The West End Horror
A Posthumous Memoir of John H. Watson, M.D.
Coronet, London, 1977
dedication: For Elly and Leonore
The blurb on the back:
'As authentically, irresistibly gripping as anything Conan Doyle ever wrote. The West End Horror is sterling, civilised entertainment, as eerie as the gas lamps flickering in the fog. DON'T MISS IT' - Cosmopolitan
Fresh from his publishing triumph with The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Meyer couldn't resist having another go at Holmes, but one rather wishes he had.
Not that there's anything particularly disastrous about The West End Horror. In fact the setting is inspired: London's theatrical world in the mid-1890s was a fascinating place, with the likes of Gilbert & Sullivan, Henry Irving and Oscar Wilde at the height of their powers, and with Bernard Shaw fast emerging as the country's greatest drama critic. Holmes, of course, knows nothing about this world, but he's drawn into it by a murder case that challenges even his... &c. &c.
All the above-mentioned get a look-in - together with Frank Harris, Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker - with varying degrees of success:
The real trouble is that the story's just not up to it, and no amount of pissing around with historical personages is gonna change that. Maybe if - like some of the others here, including The Seven-Per-Cent Solution - the novel had some fun with Doyle's creation rather than with outsiders, we'd be on to something.