Sherlock Holmes: The Impossible Cases
Dark Regions Press
Trade Paper, 273 pages, $18.95
Review by Sheila Merritt
Sherlock Holmes: Say the name and be transported to Victorian England. There are frightening footsteps in the London fog; a gigantic hound on the Moors; a vampire in Sussex. All elementary for a detective who prides himself on rational explanations. But what of the covert cases that challenge reason? The ones defying logic, that Dr. Watson chronicled and hid. Daniel McGachey reveals these suppressed stories in Sherlock Holmes: The Impossible Cases. He relates the fantastic findings with flourish and fondness; transcribing Watson’s recordings in a manner that would please the good doctor.
“The Adventure of the Unknown Worm” unearths a repulsive creature that parasitically possesses; tapering its host horrifically. This is the first case discussed in the volume, and harbors connections to the last: “The Adventure of the Pallid Mask.” In it, a play’s the thing which creates havoc. A planned theatrical production of The King in Yellow yields mental aberrations; or perhaps malignant apparitions. The manuscript of the play is of profound interest to many; there is potential power in its pages. McGachey’s placement: His employing the two experiences as book ends, is brilliant. The pairing sets the tone of the tome: Supernatural solutions to the mysteries are suggested, but not aggressively advanced. The remembrances hint at the impenetrable while celebrating the cerebral consulting detective. To quote Dr. Watson: “For even in such dark and deadly waters as we were frequently plunged, where light, truth and sanity seemed to be in such short supply, Sherlock Holmes was capable of grasping that one strand of logical reasoning that anchored us to the world in which we trust – in most cases, at least. For sometimes in our pursuit of the truth, it was not always so easy to eliminate the impossible.”
The remaining arcane episodes compiled in the book are: “The Adventure of the Voice in the Smoke,” an enigma from beyond the grave, and “The Adventure of the Red Barrow Horror” which concerns a disturbed (and disturbing) ancient burial place. These are fine recountings of extraordinary occurrences.
Daniel McGachey deserves praise for honoring Holmes and respecting Watson’s writing. In Sherlock Holmes: The Impossible Cases, he enables the reader to be privy to a fascinating and entertaining archive. There have been other speculations about Holmes’ encounters with the occult; but in this volume, the voice of Watson loudly and clearly sets the record straight.