SHERLOCK SLEPT HERE by Howard Lachtman


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The man, whom his contemporary audience refused to know as anyone but the creator of what he referred to as ""rather childish"" little entertainments, visited North America four times between the close of the Victorian era and the explosion of the Jazz Age. Conan Doyle arrived not only as famous author, but as self-styled ambassador and as preacher of his ""undeniable proof"" in the existence of an afterlife. The first chapters of this eclectic work recount briefly the four excursions. Chapter Five synopsizes the plots of every story in the Final Holmes series. Chapter Six is a reprinted tale (nothing new or rare), followed by the author's own sentimental, flippant interpretation. Conan Doyle was met with a kind of Holmes-mania when he arrived here in 1894 to tackle the lecture circuit. Unable to bear such adoration, he exhausted himself dodging hungry newshounds and fans, none of whom could separate the author from his eccentric Baker Street hero. Still, he loved the Americans, and recognizing America as the world's next great empire, he worked a private mission of softening tense Anglo-American relations, mostly by the force of his genial personality and good humor. Twenty years passed before Conan Doyle returned to pass through New York on his way to tour Canada. Again, Sherlock was mobbed, from the Plaza to Coney Island to Sing Sing, where the warden gave that master of criminal science the run of the place. Conan Doyle intended during his third and fourth visits, in 1923 and 1924, to ask Americans to let the old detective rest in peace and to listen instead to evidence he himself had gathered from the spirit world. But the press wouldn't take his earnest proofs of religion seriously, and to the public he remained a sort of Victorian artifact, who had grown less real than his anachronistic, but ever-vital, fictional character. For serious Holmes fans, the book may offer some new nostalgic tidbits, but as biographical history, too glib and much too sanctifying.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1985
Publisher: Capra