Re-reading is a good thing. Good books only get better the 15th time around. That’s why devotees of Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, and a select few other characters read their adventures again and again.
Rex Stout once said that one-third of his reading was re-reading. I don’t do that, but maybe I should. Recently I had the pleasure of re-reading The War of the Worlds Mystery by Philip A. Shreffler, former editor of the Baker Street Journal.
The novel, published in 1998, has been in my library for years. I don’t know what prompted me to open it again, but I’m glad I did. It’s a wonderful mystery that takes place around Orson Welles’s famously panic-inducing Halloween 1938 radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds.
In the world imagined by Shreffler, Christopher Morley and other members of the first-generation Baker Street Irregulars get sucked into the case of a missing actress because they had been consultants to Welles’s earlier radio adaptation of William Gillette’s Sherlock Holmes.
The characters, including Welles at points, make their way through Morley’s favorite haunts, including the Algonquin Hotel and McSorley’s Ale House. These locations have a resonance for me that they didn’t have when I first read the book. They have since become among the highlights of our visit to Manhattan each January for the Baker Street Irregulars & Friends Weekend.
Imagining Morley in these places is easy, especially at McSorley’s where his painting hangs above the table where a group of us gather. Last year when we entered, the server said, “Is it that time already?”
But you don’t have to have been there to go there in The War of the Worlds Mystery.
|McSorley's Ale House, 2018|