Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rohase Piercy's "My Dearest Holmes"

I finished reading Piercy's book, and it was excellent. Had I known that it was this excellent, and so easily ordered from Alibris, I would have got it years ago. But for a long time I just couldn't find it at my local bookstores and figured that it was too much trouble to hunt down something so obscure elsewhere.

This is the book that deserves to be cited by every damn Sherlockian, not Townsend's book! By citing gay porn instead of true slash, they are deliberately giving a skewed view of what Holmes/Watson fans are about. Piercy's book only obliquely references sex at all; instead it is seeped in angst and love and affection and arguments and finally sweetness, as great romance should be.

You know what, I think that My Dearest Holmes is a better pastiche than some straight pastiches I've read. Certainly better than Nicholas Meyer at keeping Watson's voice and not interrupting for stupid, whiny defenses about telegrams and the London Underground. The mystery plot even made sense and did not go into crap about foreshadowing World War I. It was a simple missing persons case that turned out to involve blackmail and have a personal twist at the end.

Piercy also made good use of Mrs. Cecil Forrester, and neatly explained why Mary called Watson "James." She seamlessly wove snatches of the canon with her new material, and Holmes was astonishingly in character. Best of all, Piercy convincingly managed a good rewrite of FINA and EMPT, letting the reunion play out much more tenderly and sweetly than I expected. Holmes finally had a good explanation for why he didn't contact Watson sooner, and he also said that he was passed out on the hidden ledge when Watson returned to the Reichenbach Falls. Somehow, thinking that Holmes was merely unconscious from all his exertions is much more comforting than the thought that he coldly watched Watson mourn him and sneered at the experts who examined the scene. That's one of the most infuriating parts of his tale in EMPT. Of course, this doesn't quite explain why Moran didn't take the opportunity to kill Holmes in the meanwhile, but that's a fault of Conan Doyle. Why on Earth should Moran be so far away from the fatal scene, and why should he throw rocks instead of using his air-gun?

Another minor fault is that Watson sets the first part of his story in January of 1887, "a few months" before SIGN. Even if we accepted moving SIGN from 1888 (which is possible), there's also the fact that a few characters mention having read Watson's account of the Jefferson Hope case. STUD wasn't published until Dec 1887. And there's some issue about when Watson published his short stories, since Mycroft tells Watson not to write anymore cases, but all the Adventures and the Memoirs were published from July 1891 until FINA in Dec 1893. But again, that's the fault of Conan Doyle for his cruel trick of backdating Holmes's death to 1891. Chronology problems like these can be ignored for the great depth of emotion and skill displayed in so fine a book.

Edited to add: I just googled Rohase Piercy, and found her site. She says that she has recently republished the book after it went out of print. No wonder I found it so easily on Alibris! I believe it was originally published in 1988, though I'm not entirely sure on that.

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