Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars

A few months ago I read The Sherlockian, courtesy of our son Mike, who did not take it with him to Afghanistan. As you may know, the novel intertwines two story lines – one involving a youthful member of the current-day Baker Street Irregulars (the American Sherlockians) and the other featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker.

Overall, I liked the book very much.

Although I thought the characters and their actions seemed more true to life in the historical sections, the Baker Street Irregulars chapters have preyed on my mind because they reminded me of a book I read years ago, Anthony Boucher’s The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars. Finally this week I had a chance to re-read the older book.

The Boucher novel is similar to The Sherlockian only in the sense that it involves members of the B.S. I. It’s a much more light-hearted book, enjoyable and easy to read. The edition in my library, published in 1980 by Gregg Press, contains an introduction by the great Otto Penzler. It says in part:

At the time of the book's publication, 1940, the last Sherlock Holmes story by Dr. Watson was only 13 years old. Since it was published there have been scores -- no, hundreds -- of imitations, but few rank as highly as this for ingenuity.

The story takes place in Hollywood. Members of the Baker Street Irregulars are in an uproar because a hardboiled detective story writer (and noted lecher) has been hired to script a new film version of “The Adventures of the Speckled Band.” The movie studio decides to harness all that negative energy by bringing in the Irregulars as consultants to the film. Chaos ensues, of course.

This is a classic detective story with a satisfying solution, while at the same time "a cheerful Sherlockian frolic" (as critic James Sandoe called it) with lots of references and connections to delight those of us who know our Holmes. And for me the pre-World War II setting – a more innocent time, even in Hollywood – added another level of pleasure. If you have not read it, I urge you to see if your public library has a copy.

I’m in the final stages of writing my own Sherlockian romp of a mystery novel with a full cast of unusual personalties, not least among them the amateur sleuth protagonist. I hope readers will find that fun as well.

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