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Josh Reviews Sherlock Holmes and The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols

In Nicholas Meyer’s wonderful new Sherlock Holmes pastiche (a novel structured to imitate the Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols, the great detective Sherlock Holmes and his comrade Dr. Watson are tasked with investigating the origins of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  The Protocols actually existed; this hateful, anti-Semitic text asserts that a secret cabal of Jews secretly control the world.  This might sound ludicrous to any reasonably intelligent person, but these fabricated texts (designed to inflame Jew-hatred) not only existed, but continue to be spread to this day.

I became a huge fan of Nicholas Meyer from his incredible work with the Star Trek franchise. He wrote and directed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; he wrote most of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (he wrote everything set in the 20th century, after Kirk & co. travel back in time), and he wrote and directed Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  After more than fifty years of Star Trek’s existence, Mr. Meyer’s contributions remain my very favorite versions of Trek.  Mr. Meyer also wrote several previous Holmes novels.  His first, The Seven-Per-Cent solution, is a terrific novel that was adapted in 1976 into an also-terrific movie.  Mr. Meyer also wrote and directed the 1979 film Time After Time, in which Sherlock Holmes duels with Jack the Ripper.  (Allow me to also recommend Mr. Meyer’s memoir The View From the Bridge, which is a fantastic read for anyone interested in a behind-the-scenes look at how Hollywood works.)

I was immediately intrigued when I read the plot synopsis of Mr. Meyer’s new Holmes novel.  Taking the fictional character of Holmes and combining him with a very real anti-Semitic incident seemed like a risky proposition.

But I found that, under Mr. Meyer’s skilled hands, The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols was a complex and compelling tale.

Mr. Meyer writes a great mystery/adventure, and he has a firm grasp on the characters of Holmes and Watson.  Both men come to vivid life in these pages, and their depictions feel perfectly correct and in-character.  Same goes for Sherlock’s brother Mycroft (who has a significant role to play in the novel).

The novel also features a wonderful new female character, Anna Strunsky Walling.  This intelligent, competent woman winds up accompanying Holmes and Watson for much of their adventure.  It’s terrific to have a major female character added to the mix, and I quickly grew to love this heroine.  (I do wish Mr. Meyer hadn’t allowed Anna to get into “Damsel in Distress” peril towards the book’s climax.)

As he did in his previous Holmes novels, Mr. Meyer writes this book as … [continued]