The Reminiscences of Solar Pons by August Derleth The Reminiscences of Solar Pons by August Derleth
Published by Pinnacle Books on January 1, 1975 (first published 1961)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery, Short Story
Pages: 211
Format: Paperback
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four-stars

Once more the most successful of pastiche-detectives, Solar Pons, walks on stage with a new sequence of adventures. In this fourth major collection, Solar Pons is engaged with an intriguing variety of problems — the curious puzzle of the antique sovereign boxes narrated in the novelette, "The Adventure of the Mosaic Cylinders"; the sanguine riddle of the body in the thirteenth coffin told in "The Adventure of the Mazarine Blue"; the perplexing matter of the man devoted to British bowlers — "The Adventure of the Hats of M. Dulac"; the incredible plot to foment a religious war — "The Adventure of the Black Cardinal"; the disturbing facts in the murder of a psychic client — "The Adventure of the Blind Clairaudient" — and others. Solar Pons has won a place for himself among the outstanding exponents of the deductive. Almost two decades ago Vincent Starrett hailed his initial adventures as "the best substitutes for Sherlock Holmes known to this reviewer." The stories in this book — like their predecessors — are, as Ney MacMinn put it in The Chicago Tribune, much more than imitations — "an excellent series of adventures in detection in their own right." Here once again is the atmosphere of Baker Street and the London of Sherlock Holmes.

I love a good Sherlock Holmes pastiche. I picked up The Reminiscences of Solar Pons at a used book store based on the cover alone: “If there’s ever to be another Sherlock Holmes, it’s Solar Pons. ‘Readers with a taste for genteel crime . . .could hardly do better.” Solar Pons is undeniably and unapologetically based on Sherlock. When Derleth asked permission from Conan Doyle to take over the writing of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Conan Doyle declined. Derleth then created a clone of Holmes with Solar Pons, Dr. Parker his chronicler, Mrs. Johnson the landlady, Inspector Jamison of Scotland Yard, older brother Bancroft who works for the government, and the Praed Street Irregulars. This is the fourth collection of stories, but the first I’ve read. I definitely need to go back and read the others. I’m happy to see they’re available as ebooks in case I can’t find print copies.

Solar Pons, like his predecessor, has excellent powers of observation and a logical mind. He smokes a pipe and wears a deerstalker. He frustrates Parker by seeing things that the doctor doesn’t. The actual Sherlock Holmes also exists in Pons’ world: Pons and Parker are aware of the famous detective and hold him in high regard. Pons does have his own personality though. he’s not as brooding as Homes, more personable. I think it would be easier to actually spend time with Pons if he were a real person than it would be Holmes. I love Holmes, don’t get me wrong, but you have to admit it would be tough to be his friend.

The stories in this collection are varied, as you can see from the blurb. Overall, they’re compelling tales with satisfying solutions. I thoroughly enjoyed the settings, the characters, the bad guys, and the mysteries.

About August Derleth

August William Derleth (February 24, 1909 – July 4, 1971) was an American writer and anthologist. Though best remembered as the first book publisher of the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, and for his own contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos and the cosmic horror genre, as well as his founding of the publisher Arkham House (which did much to bring supernatural fiction into print in hardcover in the US that had only been readily available in the UK), Derleth was a leading American regional writer of his day, as well as prolific in several other genres, including historical fiction, poetry, detective fiction, science fiction, and biography.

A 1938 Guggenheim Fellow, Derleth considered his most serious work to be the ambitious Sac Prairie Saga, a series of fiction, historical fiction, poetry, and non-fiction naturalist works designed to memorialize life in the Wisconsin he knew. Derleth can also be considered a pioneering naturalist and conservationist in his writing.

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