The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols

There are so many pastiches and parodies of Sherlock Holmes stories about that it is a welcome change to find one that appears, on first glance, to actually be based on my notes from one of Holmes’ cases.

The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols is by Nicholas Meyer, whom you may remember also wrote The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, and the author also wrote the screenplay for the film version with Robert Duvall as me and Nicol Williamson as Holmes. I will leave any review of that film until a later date except to state that its premise is somewhat flimsy.

Meyer is on safer ground with this story being based on notes from my diary of 1905. The reason it has not appeared before now is the involvement of the Secret Service (we were brought into the case by Holmes’s brother Mycroft) and I put the notes into the safety deposit box at my bank at the 16 Charing Cross branch of Cox and Company in London. That bank eventually became part of Lloyds Bank which, coincidentally also swallowed up the Capital and Counties Bank, where Holmes had his account at 125 Oxford Street, London. But I digress . . .

Let’s get some inaccuracies out of the way first. I am not sure on what evidence Meyer names my second wife as Juliet Garnett, sister of Edward Garnett, the English writer, and sister-in-law of Constance Black (Edward’s wife). It is possible that he has misread some remarks in my diary. In his defence, he does indicate the fragility of the diary in “A Word of Explanation” at the beginning of the book.

Putting all that aside, Meyer’s screenwriting prowess shows as he weaves some historical facts into my diary notes to produce a short story that could move readily onto the silver screen. He has, in some places, embellished the tale with Sherlockian ephemera in an attempt to give it authority, but this is done to good effect. Holmes not only outwits the Russian secret service but, as is often the case, yours truly.

This case, as Meyer relates it, took place shortly before Holmes’ retirement and, though Mycroft considered it a failure, his brother had done exactly what he had asked and we were both honoured by His Majesty at its conclusion.

For those looking for a new case of ours to read, this would fill that nice little gap on your bookshelf, and would only take up an afternoon to read.

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