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Friday, June 27, 2014
Returning to Solar Pons
The increased attention and interest given to Sherlock Holmes in recent years has resulted in an avalanche of new books, many of them by London-based MX Publishing (my own publisher).
And yet, I am reading (or re-reading in some cases) the decades-old adventures of Solar Pons, who is - but also is not - Holmes under another name.
There's a reason for that.
One of my joys in going to Sherlock Holmes conferences is the opportunity to add to my librarian of Sherlockiana. Among the purchases I made from Kathy Harig of Mystery Loves Company at A Scintillation of Scions earlier this month was a set of the Pinnacle paperback editions of the Solar Pons books.
The set included eight books - all seven of the original books by August Derleth and a collection of Pons pastiches by Basil Copper. I knew that I already had four of the books, but I liked the idea of buying the entire set so that I could look at them on my shelves and remember the day I bought them.
Turns out, that was a very good decision. The books are in better shape than the ones I already had, even though some of them area earlier editions.
I wrote about Pons on this blog about three years ago. (Check it out.) As I read my way through the stories, I have just a few additional observations.
More proof that Pons is not exactly Holmes (even though Derleth said he was) is that he's referred to as the Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street within the stories themselves. The stories are also set in a later time period - just after Holmes fades from the scene.
But echoes of Holmes redound throughout the Pons canon in lines like "You know my methods; apply them" and "elementary." Many of the plots even echo Sherlock Holmes stories - but then, so do the plots of several later Holmes stories repeat plots of earlier ones! They are great stories nonetheless.
Baron Kroll is a Moriarty-like figure. Could he actually be Von Bork under another name?
Most intriguing to me is Pons's habit of pushing his lips in and out as he thinks. This is reminiscent not of Sherlock Holmes but of his rumored son Nero Wolfe. And, as Bob Byrne pointed out to me, Pons also pulls his ear like Humphrey Bogart!
Reading Solar Pons is great fun. It's even more fun to know that I own them all.
Posted by Doctor Dan at 12:00 AM