The Last Sherlock Holmes Story

Faber and Faber

Artikel angeboten seit:
Shocking and interesting
There is a long and honoured tradition among mystery writers and fans of the Sherlock Holmes tales of writing one's own mystery. This can take one of several starting points - to take a detail in the canonical stories and develop it more fully (there are a lot of dangling pieces in there), to take the characters of Holmes and Watson (and perhaps others) and involve them in completely new fictional scenarios, or, as author Michael Dibdin does here, involve the characters in actual historical events. Dibdin is not the first to pit Holmes against the murderer of Whitechapel, whom history has come to know as 'Jack the Ripper'. Indeed, if there was one case upon which the Holmesian skill was needed in London a hundred years ago, it was that case, still unsolved by the authorities.
Dibdin, however, does a twist to this. Holmes is involved in solving the case, but even he cannot do it. This, we discover in the course of things, is because of a very dark secret indeed. Holmes is known from the canonical stories to be a cocaine addict, a seven-percent solution being his favoured dose. Dibdin set the premise that this has caused Holmes to have a split personality, and that his nemesis Moriarty is in fact Holmes himself. This is an overlay of the idea of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, a story contemporary with Conan Doyle's canon, and also one involving drug transformation.
This is a story for the true Holmes fan. As another reviewer has commented, those who are not intimately familiar with the Holmesian canon are likely going to be lost in many of the details and get a vastly distorted picture both of the detective and his arch-enemy. This is a flight of pure fancy, a 'what if?' very well crafted and executed, but rather far from what the traditional Holmesian and Sherlockian followers will accept.
Dibdin does write in an engaging style, and sets this up as a Watsonian narrative buried for a period to permit the Holmes legend to rest secure before being savaged. Of course, that legend is secure, as countless pastiches that have warped Holmes into every conceivable type of person and placed him in ever more diverse setting have been unable to shake - indeed, their continued production only serves to solidify that prominence. Dibdin's contribution is a welcome, if shocking, contribution to this body of work.
Few who read it will ever forget it.

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