Holmes Book Cover 9

The West End Horror – by Nicholas Meyer – Hodder and Stoughton 1976

From the blurb:

In 1974, readers were enthralled when Sherlock Holmes met Sigmund Freud in The Seven-Per Cent-Solution, one of the big best sellers of the year. In The West End Horror, Nicholas Meyer has brought to light another previously unpublished episode in the career of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes as recorded by his close associate and friend Dr John H. Watson.

March 1895. London. A month of singular occurrences in the West End. First there was the bizarre murder of theatre critic Jonathan McCarthy; the police were baffled. Then came the law-suit against the Marquis of Queensberry for libel; the public was scandalised. And what of the ingénue at the Savoy, discovered with her throat slashed? Or the police surgeon who disappeared taking with him two corpses from the mortuary?

Some of the theatre district’s most fashionable and creative luminaries (as well as a number of more marginal participants) were involved or effected by these events; a penniless stage critic and writer named Bernard Shaw; Ellen Terry, the gifted actress and the loveliest woman in London; Gilbert and Sullivan; a suspicious box office clerk named Bram Stoker; an aging matinee idol, Henry Irving; an unscrupulous publisher calling himself Frank Harris, and a controversial wit by the name of Oscar Wilde.

Scotland Yard is mystified by what appear to be unrelated cases, but to Holmes the matter is elementary; a maniac is on the loose.

John Hamish Watson was born in England in 1847. After a childhood spent abroad, he returned in 1872 and enrolled in the University of London Medical School, where he took his degree six years later. After finishing the course at Netley prescribed for Army surgeons, he was attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers and sent to India. Severely wounded by a Jezail bullet at the Battle of Maiwand during the Second Afghan War, in 1880 he returned to England, his health ruined, with no specific plans other than to live as best he could on his Army pension. In January of the following year, quite by accident, he met Sherlock Holmes, who was then looking for someone to share his lodgings. The ensuing friendship, which lasted until Holmes’ death, found Watson his niche as the great detective’s biographer through more than sixty cases. In his spare time he resumed his practice of medicine. In 1889 he married Mary Morstan. He died in 1940.

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