It will be good news to many devotees of the deductive story – particularly the pastiche of Sherlock Holmes – that Solar Pons is back in a third major collection after a lapse of seven years. In his introduction to this collection, Mr. Smith echoes the sentiments of many readers and listeners when he says, “These pastiches come the closest of any that have been written, consistently, to capturing the true flavor of the Holmesian saga and to making its people and its places and its happenings entirely credible.”
There are 13 tales in this collection, ranging from the complex problem set forth in “The Adventure of the Lost Dutchman” to the sanguine events chronicled in “The Adventure of the Swedenborg Signatures”. Here are such provocative exploits as “The Adventure of the Penny Magenta”, “The Adventure of the Trained Cormorant”, “The Adventure of the Little Hangman”, “The Adventure of the Remarkable Worm”, “The Adventure of the Camberwell Beauty”. Here is a puzzle with supernatural overtones – “The Adventure of the Devil’s Footprints”, and here, too, another one which touches upon the early exploration of atomic secrets – “The Adventure of the Rydberg Numbers”. And one of these entertaining accounts is a double pastiche – not only of the Master of Baker Street but also of the sinister Oriental of Limehouse!
These tales will bring back long-missed Baker Street days, for, Number 7, Praed Street bears a striking resemblance to 221B Baker Street, and Solar Pons and Dr. Parker seem often interchangeable with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. No living writer has equaled August Derleth’s achievement in these pastiches, offered to listeners with no intention to deceive, but only to entertain. Here, once again, is London of decades ago, and here, once again, “the game is afoot”.