Prolific screenwriter, showrunner, and sometime Sherlock-ian Meyer (The Canary Trainer, 1993, etc.) returns to update the Sacred Canon once more with a previously undiscovered adventure from 1905 that might just as well have stayed hidden.
As so often in latter-day Holmes pastiches, the great detective’s brother, Mycroft, drags him into this one. Popping up at a dinner Dr. John Watson gives for Sherlock’s 50th birthday, Mycroft quietly demands a meeting the next morning at the Diogenes Club, where he shows his brother a single bloodstained page of a manuscript so incendiary that it’s already provoked the murder of Manya Lippman, Mycroft’s colleague in the Secret Intelligence Service. The manuscript, written in French, is The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a forged plan for world domination designed to stoke anti-Semitism that Mycroft’s determined to suppress or discredit before it can metastasize and turn a generation yet unborn against the Jews. Since the Protocols are a real-life phenomenon, not so much peculiar as monstrous, that would ultimately travel the world to be embraced by parties from Hitler to Hamas, it’s no surprise to read in Meyer’s introductory note that this adventure marks “the biggest and most consequential failure of the detective’s entire career.” But that’s not for lack of trying. Tracing the source of the monstrous hoax to Russia, Holmes travels with Watson and American translator Anna Walling across Europe to the czar’s kingdom, quickly identifies the manuscript’s vengeful creator, and extracts a written confession that it’s a forgery and a plagiarism to boot before returning on the Orient Express for a climactic episode cribbed, as Meyer’s closing Acknowledgments cheerfully admit, from Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Lady Vanishes. So many historical figures, from translator Constance Garnett to future Israeli president Chaim Weizmann, put in appearances that only the canniest readers will spot the few characters who are actually invented rather than summoned.
The mystery is slight and the frequently coy footnotes annoying, but there’s sturdy adventure for Sherlock-ians whose appetites remain unsated.