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The Maniac Collector's Inbox
No. 504, February 5, 2012

Sherlockian Popourri
By Don Hobbs, BSI

The House of Silk: A Review: I know that the new pastiche by Anthony Horowitz has already been reviewed on this website but I want to put in my two-cents worth. I found the book well written and yet the way it was written bothered me. So many pastichers fail to capture the elegant simplicity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and this one is no different. There are times when is does, but more often it does not succeed.

Why do writers of pastiches insist on clarification of things they write? In passing, a character with red hair is thought a perfect candidate for the Red-Headed League. Sherlockians already know about the Red-Headed League and will make their own assumptions and those new to the world of Sherlock Holmes will not understand this oblique reference. There are plenty of examples where Watson refers to other tales. It is as though Mr. Horowitz is begging for acceptance from the Sherlockian world.

I also found it distracting that the premise that the story is only being published before of the death of Sherlock Holmes. We know this is a blatant error. He just celebrated his 158th birthday. Finally, the twist at the end of the story and the crimes are extremely disturbing and concerning. The plot twist and other construction were a nice touch but coming after the revelation of such a disturbing crime still left me a bit uneasy. All of this being said, I still read the book in just a few hours, which is amazing for me. I usually take a lot longer to finish a book It is a pastiche so to each his own but if you decide to read it be prepared and forewarned.

Sherlocking in Buffalo, NY: I was in Buffalo, New York for work last week. I arrived at my hotel and had just checked into my room when my phone rang. These hotel chains have an annoying habit of an automated telephone greeting as soon as you check in. I was prepare this time as I snatched the phone off of its cradle and snapped ‘What?’ Much to my surprise, it was not an automated voice on the other end but the voice of Donny Zaldin, BSI. “John Hectar McFarland calling for Inspector Lestrade,” the voice said. He had driven down from his home in Toronto to see me. Donny and I received our investitures together in January and now we are the Dons of Sherlockiana. It was such a pleasant surprise and we had a marvelous 3 ½ hour together at dinner. I am scheming to find a way to get Donny and his wife, Barbara Rusch, to Texas and so far no firm ideas have come to mind.

Books, Books, and more Books: Normally when I have been away, I come home to a pile of mail that usually contains some new books. When I got home Friday night, there was zero amount of mail waiting for me let alone any new books. My lovely post girl made up for it on Saturday when she delivered three parcels with more than 35 new (old) books. First was a set of 27 Chinese books listed in De Waal as C2414. These are a set of singles stories in each volume with great cover illustrations. I bought them on eBay from a bookshop in Connecticut. The seller had no further information on the books but they must have been owned previously by a Sherlockian because each edition has the Canonical title penciled in on the first page. Several have additional notations stating that the cover illustration looks to be from a different story. I have included a cover scan of “The Reigate Squire” and it is noted on the front that the illustration appears to be from “The Musgrave Ritual.”

The next box was from Yuichi Hirayama, BSI and it was full of a dozen Japanese editions. Through my friend and fellow collector, Takahiko Endo, I have nearly 300 Japanese translations of the Canon but the books Yuichi sent were all missing editions from various sets. One series in particular is Holmes ha Meitantei and is a 28-volume set published in the late 1990’s by Iwasaki Shoten. I was missing nine volumes until Saturday. That is when I opened Yuichi’s parcel with all nine missing volumes. This is just one of the many, many reasons being a Sherlockian is so wonderful, the friendships that are forged will last a lifetime. The final package included the latest in a Spanish series that my friend Joan Proubasta has been sending to me when they are published. Joan just donated his entire collection, 50 plus years in the making, to the Biblioteca Arús in Barcelona.

Happy Collecting!!

“The Reigate Squires” with MUSG illustration.



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Past 2012 Columns

January 1, 2012

January 8, 2012
The Good Sherlockian

January 15, 2012
The OMG NYC Moment

January 22, 2012
Allen Reads

January 29, 2012
The Ups and Downs of Being a Sherlockian

February 2, 2012
Sherlockian Potpourri