The Casebook of Solar Pons

ImageFollowing Pinnacle’s The AdventuresThe Chronicles and The Memoirs;  next out was The Casebook of Solar Pons. It was issued in April of 1975 – only two months after The Memoirs

There’s a neat aspect to this particular Pinnacle edition.The first inside page is a full-page, all text promo for The Praed Street Irregulars. It even quotes Alvin Germeshausen from a toast at a PSI Dinner (I think…). It’s a very neat piece, comparing the PSI to the Baker Street Irregulars. And it references the very last page of the book. Which includes a membership application with some more about the PSI. This isn’t some Society-publication. We’re talking about a major publisher’s paperback edition. It shows the relevance of the PSI back in the day.

The dedication reads, “for Michael Harrison – who more than any other has kept alive the London of Sherlock Holmes…”

Harrison (also a BSI) was one of the pre-eminent members of the PSI and contributed several pieces to the Pontine Dossier. His essay on Dr. Parker follows the Foreword in this edition. Among his excellent Sherlockian writings are In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes and The World of Sherlock Holmes.

There is an Afterword from Derleth himself looking back at the creation and history of his Pons writings. This is the fifth collection and he ends with, “I cannot promise to write no more of them.” Love it!

Finally, there is The London Map of Solar Pons, by Luther Norris. Norris founded the Praed Street Irregulars and remains the pre-eminent Pons fan of us all. The map places the twenty-seven cases that took place in London. It is spread over two pages and cut down the center: I still don’t have a decent picture of it to reproduce after all these years.

Text from the back cover: “Whatever your fancy in the polished world of deductive cunning – a mummified hand conspicuously resting in an intarsia box, a haunted moonlit library, a tattered corpse caught up in a rapacious invincible curse – Solar Pons will quickly capture your curiosity and leave you hungering for more. Soon you will find yourself a regular visitor at No 7B Praed Street, eagerly peering into the mind of the contemplative Pons, slouched in the cozy cavern of his armchair. And as you faithfully follow the master about charming, chilling fin-de-siecle London, discreetly clutching and unclutching your hands between counterplots and climaxes, you know that you have found a lifelong companion – the incomparable and brilliant Solar Pons, heir to the genius that was once uniquely Sherlock Holmes.

There was also a blurb from Time on the back: “This literary descendant of the Master deserves the nostalgic sighs his exploits will bring from the most dyed-in-the-red Baker Street Irregulars”

The contents of The Casebook:

  • Introduction by Vincent Starrett
  • Cuthbert (Lyndon) Parker by Michael Harrison
  • The Adventure of the Sussex Archers
  • The Adventure of the Haunted Library
  • The Adventure of the Fatal Glance
  • The Adventure of the Intarsia Box
  • The Adventure of the Spurious Tamerlane
  • The Adventure of the China Cottage
  • The Adventure of the Ascot Scandal
  • The Adventure of the Crouching Dog
  • The Adventure of the Missing Huntsman
  • The Adventure of the Whispering Knights
  • The Adventure of the Innkeeper’s Clerk
  • Afterward
  • Endpaper Map by Luther Norris

See pages five and seven for newspaper coverage of The Crouching Dog

The Whispering Knights involves mummery, an old British tradition unfamiliar to most Americans (including me!)

Nine of the eleven stories contained in this collection had made their initial appearances in magazines with three years of the original publication (1965) of The Casebook. The collection represented August Derleth’s most concentrated attention and production of Pons since the original creation: probably even greater than then. 

It was the last collection of Pons stories published before his death. The Reminiscences of Solar Pons was posthumous. 

Visit SolarPons.com to learn more about The Casebook, including commentaries for every case and the Foreword.

Bob Byrne, PSI

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