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Meyer came up with a different way to make creative use of Holmes after a fellow student asked whether his father followed Freud’s methods. Not knowing anything about Freud, Meyer came home and posed that question to his father. “He told me that it’s no more possible to discuss psychology without discussing Freud than it is to discuss the discovery of America without discussing Columbus.” When the older Meyer explained that his work involved listening to both what his patients said, and how they said it, in order to find clues about what was at the heart of their problems, Meyer piped up: “That sounds like being a detective.” When his father concurred, a light bulb went off in Meyer’s head—he realized that Holmes had always reminded him of his father.

That epiphany led Meyer to learn about Freud. “His narrative voice was reminiscent of Watson’s, and, at one point, Freud himself described his following the labyrinth of a patient’s mind as being ‘Sherlock Holmes-like.’?” Given that Freud and Conan Doyle were contemporaries who had both written about cocaine, Meyer wondered whether they had known each other. Once Meyer learned that Conan Doyle had studied ophthalmology in Vienna for six months, he was convinced he was on to a good idea.

But that idea remained undeveloped for years, until after Meyer had moved to California to try his hand at screenwriting. The 1973 Writers’ Guild strike left him with a lot of free time, and friends encouraged him to get going on the Holmes-Freud novel he’d been talking about.


    -PROFILE: Nicholas Meyer Puts Sherlock Holmes on the Couch: Nicholas Meyer returns with The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols, his first Sherlock Holmes novel in 26 years (Lenny Picker, Aug 30, 2019, Publishers Weekly)

It is easy now to forget that there was a time when Sherlock Holmes had faded somewhat from popular culture. Sure, we still got the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce films on stations like Channel 9 in NYC, but the last of those was released in 1946. Meanwhile, Billy Wilder's Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) and the Quixotic They Might Be Giants had more or less flopped and the PBS Mystery! adaptations of the original stories, starring Jeremy Brett David Burke/Edward Hardwicke, wouldn't begin until the mid-80's. In the mind's eye, I still she Christopher Lee as Holmes filling the void, but the reality is that even he had near a 30-year hiatus between turns as the great detective. In the midst of this great drought a young screenwriter was looking to do something productive during a guild strike and Nicholas Meyer's resulting novel ended up spending almost a year on the NY Times best-seller list, spawning several sequels and a hit movie adaptation, from the author's own screenplay. Today Mr. Meyer is credited, in large part, with the Holmes revival. Indeed, the manner in which the book manages to be respectful to the canon while also re-imagining aspects of the characters and introducing historical characters would become a template for much that would follow.

The title of the book refers to Holmes's preferred dose of cocaine and the story centers on Watson's efforts to free him from addiction and a deepening obsession with Professor Moriarity. Upon meeting the rather harmless Moriarity, Watson enlists Mycroft and the three conspire to use the academic as bait to lure Holmes to Vienna where--big reveal!--a controversial Jewish doctor has been having some success in treating cocaine abuse. Sigmund Freud probes Holmes's mind in much the way Holmes has always probed more material mysteries and a respectful relationship is born. But in scenes reminiscent of The French Connection II, Holmes ultimately has to go cold turkey. Meanwhile, Watson gets an up-close look at the anti-Semitism that Freud faces in Viennese society. In one great scene, Freud fights a "duel" not with swords or pistols but on a tennis court.

The author also gives us a Doyle-esque mystery for Holmes to solve, involving an amnesiac medical patient at the heart of a conspiracy that cold rock all of Europe! But the real mystery here is the mind of Holmes and Mr. Meyer's offers an ingenious solve for why Moriarity is such a menacing figure in the detective's mind and why Holmes's relations with others are always so distant.

I'd not read the book in over thirty years when I found it at a thrift store recently and was gratified that it holds up pretty well. Mr. Meyer has just published a fourth installment in the series after a quarter-century hiatus and it's getting good notices, a welcome return.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B+)


Websites:

See also:

Mystery
Nicholas Meyer Links:

    -Nicholas Meyer (Wikipedia)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Nicholas Meyer (IMDB)
    -The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (Wikipedia)
    -The Seven-Per-Cent Solution [film] (Wikipedia)
    -The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) (IMDB)
    -The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (Book) (Baker Street Wiki)
    -PROFILE: Nicholas Meyer Puts Sherlock Holmes on the Couch: Nicholas Meyer returns with The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols, his first Sherlock Holmes novel in 26 years (Lenny Picker, Aug 30, 2019, Publishers Weekly)
Meyer came up with a different way to make creative use of Holmes after a fellow student asked whether his father followed Freud’s methods. Not knowing anything about Freud, Meyer came home and posed that question to his father. “He told me that it’s no more possible to discuss psychology without discussing Freud than it is to discuss the discovery of America without discussing Columbus.” When the older Meyer explained that his work involved listening to both what his patients said, and how they said it, in order to find clues about what was at the heart of their problems, Meyer piped up: “That sounds like being a detective.” When his father concurred, a light bulb went off in Meyer’s head—he realized that Holmes had always reminded him of his father.

That epiphany led Meyer to learn about Freud. “His narrative voice was reminiscent of Watson’s, and, at one point, Freud himself described his following the labyrinth of a patient’s mind as being ‘Sherlock Holmes-like.’?” Given that Freud and Conan Doyle were contemporaries who had both written about cocaine, Meyer wondered whether they had known each other. Once Meyer learned that Conan Doyle had studied ophthalmology in Vienna for six months, he was convinced he was on to a good idea.

But that idea remained undeveloped for years, until after Meyer had moved to California to try his hand at screenwriting. The 1973 Writers’ Guild strike left him with a lot of free time, and friends encouraged him to get going on the Holmes-Freud novel he’d been talking about.

    -INTERVIEW: Interview with Nicholas Meyer (Brad S. Ross, 6/20/18, arts Comment)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: The Holmes Behind the Modern SherlockThe Holmes Behind the Modern Sherlock (Mike Hale, Jan. 25th, 2013, NY Times)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Sherlock Holmes meets Sigmund Freud in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (J.R. Jones, 01.29.13, Chicago Reader)
    -ESSAY: The Return of Sherlock Holmes: Is it inevitable, my dear Watson? (Lenny Picker, Jan 18, 2010, Publishers Weekly)
    -ESSAY: My immortal Holmes (Simon Guerrier, February, 2015, The Lancet Psychiatry)
    -ARCHIVES: sherlock holmes (The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of The Seven-Percent Solution by Nicholas Meyer (Better Holmes & Gardens)
    -REVIEW: of The Seven-Percent Solution (Mark Wallace, Victorian Sage)
    -REVIEW: of Seven-Percent Solution (TV Tropes)
    -REVIEW: of Seven-Percent Solution (Phil Giunta)
    -REVIEW: of seven-Percent Sloution (Evan Lewis, Davy Crockett's Almanack)
    -REVIEW: of
   
-GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: of SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION #1 by David & Scott Tiption and Ron Joseph (Comicsverse)
    -STAGE REVIEW: of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (ZACH BARR, New City Stage)
    -REVIEW: of The Canary Trainer: From the Memoirs of John H. Watson Nicholas Meyer, Editor (Publishers Weekly) FILM:

    -FILMOGRAPHY: Nicholas Meyer (IMDB)
    -REVIEW: of The Seven-Percent Solution (Vincent Canby, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Seven-Percent Solution (Budd Wilkins, Slant)
    -REVIEW: of Seven-Percent Solution (Glenn Erickson, DVD Talk)
    -REVIEW: of Seven-Percent Solution (Peter Martin, screen Anarchy)
    -REVIEW: of Seven-Percent Solution (AFI Catalog)
    -REVIEW: of Seven-Percent Solution (Sarah Boslaugh, PopMatters)
    -REVIEW: of Seven-Percent Solution (Richard T. Jameson, January 1977, Movietone News 53)

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