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SHERLOCK HOLMES was acquainted with many famous personages, albeit not always Canonically (i.e., not always specifically cited in Watson’s chronicles). Well researched are his interactions with the Count Vlad Dracula (Holmes vs. Dracula, edited by Loren Estleman) and Herr Doctor Privatdozent Sigmund Freud (The Seven-Per-Cent Solution: Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D. as Edited by Nicholas Meyer). Perhaps less known, but equally well documented, are his encounters with King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Doctor Fu Manchu and Arthur Foskett.
Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm, Ludwig II of Bavaria, 1845-1886, was also known as “The Swan King,” as well as “Mad King Ludwig.” You can’t please everyone.
In fact, Bavarian discord leads Prussian Prince Otto von Bismarck to summon Holmes and Watson to Sachsenwald, his north German estate. Reports are that Ludwig II’s mental competency is suspect and he’s in danger of being deposed.
The plot thickens when Ludwig and his attending physician are found floating dead—in only waist-deep water.
The book is rich with Canonical and other historical references, replete with footnotes and period illustrations. It’s even suggested how Ludwig II got his “Swan King” moniker.
Cay Van Ash, 1918-1994, was a friend of the late Sax Rohmer, who originally documented the evil doings of Fu Manchu. This Chinese archfiend and England’s most famous consulting detective are both offered respectful homage here.
Denis Nayland Smith, hero and Fu Manchu adversary, has been kidnapped. His sidekick Dr. Petrie teams up with Holmes and Watson to save him. Fu Manchu counters with his mind-altering gases, venomous creatures and world-wracking gizmos bordering on sci-fi.
Alan Coren, 1938-2007, for nine years editor of Punch magazine, was an English humorist, writer and radio/TV personality. Coren’s Arthur Foskett is a ten-year-old who manages to get himself into—and brilliantly out of—adventures documented in Railroad Arthur, Arthur the Kid, Buffalo Arthur, The Lone Arthur, Klondike Arthur and this one involving Holmes and Watson.
After an extended stay in the American west, Arthur is returning home to England aboard the S.S. Murgatroyd. Celebrated passengers also on the voyage are William S. Gilbert, Arthur Sullivan, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson.
From the book:
“Goodness me!” Sherlock Holmes exclaimed. “How in heaven’s name did you know I was a detective?”
“Well,” said Arthur, “I noticed that huge magnifying glass you have in your top pocket. You don’t use it for looking at the menu, so I knew it wasn’t for reading….”
This charming, droll adventure involves a missing manuscript for a new Gilbert & Sullivan piece. Librarians say Arthur and the Great Detective is for kids, 8-10; I say it’s good semi-Canonical fun for us all. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013