One of the most intriguing books that's come my way lately is a book about a book.
At the end of each of our Enoch Hale historical mysteries, Kieran McMullen and I have included several pages of "Notes for the Curious" to separate fact from fiction for the readers. Jon Lellenberg has done something similar on a grand scale in Sources and Methods. In a 154-page book with 32 photographs, he basically annotates his own novel, Baker Street Irregular.
Long-suffering readers of this blog (and there are a few) may recall that I was much taken by that novel. I wrote about it here in mid-2012 quite favorably. I found it an extraordinarily skillful work of fiction, accessible to anyone but of particular interest to the friends of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. It's a spy story, a love story, and a solid historical novel about the early days of the Baker Street Irregulars.
"Baker Street Irregular is a work of fiction, but every word of it is true," Lellenberg says.
Those are the closing words of the forward to his long-promised book that explores factual underpinnings of the fiction. Lellenberg explains the title in his introduction:
This may wind up being one of the rarer volumes in my library, with only 250 copies in print. You can order a copy for $20, postage paid in the U.S., from Hazelbaker & Lellenberg Inc., P.O. Box 32181, Santa Fe, NM 87594. If you know the author's e-mail address, you can also send the money by PayPal.“Sources and Methods” is a term in the intelligence community that also took shape in those years, whose formative stages provide part of the novel’s story line. Sources and Methods are critical to collection of raw intelligence and its analysis into useful product to inform policy; and in wartime, strategy and operations. They normally must be kept secret—but not here. I want instead to disclose the sources and methods behind Baker Street Irregular for readers who’d like to know more about the personalities, institutions, and events in it. And for the sake of the historical record, since I spent thirty-five years in the kind of work that Woody Hazelbaker, the novel’s protagonist and narrator, goes to Washington in 1940 to do, in the novel's Ch. 12.