Author Archives: Bob Byrne

About Bob Byrne

I have been a Sherlock Holmes fan for over three decades and I created www.SolarPons.com for The Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street. My 'The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes' appears every Monday morning at www.BlackGate.com .Christian, husband, father, and Humphrey Bogart fan.

RIP John (Watson) Hillerman

Hillerman_WatsonJohn Hillerman, best known as ‘Higgins’ on Magnum PI, passed away last week. The actor had a couple of Sherlockian ties.

The first was in the Magnum episode, Holmes is Where the Heart Is. Patrick MacNee (who himself played Watson three times and Holmes once) is David (nee, Sigerson), an old friend of Higgins. David thinks that he is Sherlock Holmes and he is out to foil a Moriarty plot. Higgins is forced to become a reluctant Watson. It’s a good episode.

Hillerman would play the real Watson a few years later opposite Edward Woodward’s Holmes in The Hands of a Murderer. That forgettable film was based on the script for The Prince of Crime, which was to be the third Ian Richardson Holmes film, before Sy Weintraub settled his lawsuit against Granada and packed up his project after two movies. (Richardson is just about my favorite Holmes).

Hillerman had a very Shakespearean voice and I would have loved to see him on stage, booming out the lines of Falstaff.

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A Nero Wolfe Newsletter? Satisfactory!

Wolfe_MurderBookHopefully, if you’re here, you are aware that I have created two free, on-line Newsletters, which I host over at my Solar Pons website. The Solar Pons Gazette is dedicated to ‘The Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street.’ Baker Street Essays is about Sherlock Holmes.

Let me give you a tip: if you want to become a professional writer, creating free, online Newsletters is NOT the way to go about it.
 
So, of course, I just created my third such one, which is why I make my living as a Fiscal Officer (we can discuss my level of ‘professional’ in that field elsewhere.

I have read (and written about) a LOT of mystery series’, but my favorite of them all is Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. I have re-read the stories in the Corpus many times and never tire of them. So, it was time to put together some of my writings about Wolfe and Archie.

If you like Rex Stout’s mismatched pair, go ahead and give it a look. And if you haven’t discovered these wonderful stories, the first essay will give you an overview of the series; with a Sherlockian perspective.

Go ahead and click on over

LA, Kershaw & The Fall Classic!

Kershaw_WSGameOneWord Series baseball returned to Chavez Ravine last night in spectacular fashion:

  • On the 45th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s passing, his son, daughter and widow threw out the first pitch;
  • Dodger greats Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe, Vin Scully, Tommy Lasorda and more were on hand;
  • It was the fastest World Series game since 1992;
  • At 104 degrees, it was the hottest starting temperature ever: higher than the last two openers combined;
  • Justin Turner, a former unwanted utility infielder, won the game with a two run homer and tied the great Duke Snider for the all time team RBI lead in the post season;
  • Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher on the planet, became only the second pitcher in World Series history to strike out 11 batters without walking any. The other: Don Newcombe!
  • The Astros, who led the majors in runs scored and fewest strike-outs, scored only one run and struck out 12 times.

When it lives up to its name, The Fall Classic is a great sporting event.

LET’S GO BLUE!!!!

Robert E Howard Wrote a Police Procedural?

BG_GodBowlComicCoverThere aren’t too many areas regarding Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Cimmerian (better known as ‘The Barbarian’) that haven’t been covered. Over at BlackGate.com this week,  I took a stab at one that posits ‘The God in the Bowl’ is an example of a pre-genre police procedural. Generally not considered a favorite among fans of the mighty-thewed sword swinger, I think it’s a better story than perceived when viewed in this light.

Head on over and see what you think!

 

 

‘From the Notebooks of Dr. Parker’ – A New Entry!

 Pons_MyLibraryAugust Derleth wrote a “From the Notebooks of Doctor Parker” piece for 1965’s Praed Street Papers, a rare little gem of Ponsiana by the author. It was reissued in a somewhat revised format in 1968 as A Praed Street Dossier and I’m fortunate to own a copy of that one (it’s the unadorned, black-covered one in the bottom row, next to an original Pontine Dossier. It’s an absolute treasure.

Derleth wrote two more sets of ‘Notebooks’ entries for early issues of The Pontine Dossier, the newsletter of The Praed Street Irregulars. Apparently not lacking in hubris, I wrote new ‘Notebooks’ entries for a few issues of The Solar Pons Gazette, my own Pons newsletter, created to fill the hole left by the cessation of The Dossier. I think I’ve written about 9,000 words of ‘Notebooks entries,’ which ain’t bad.

And, to go ahead and Play the Game… 

I was recently looking through my collection of miscellaneous papers and found a bundle of papers, mixed in with some notes on the cases of Flaxman Low. I was pleasantly surprised to discover they were as yet unread (by me) excerpts from the notebook of Solar Pons’ Boswell, Doctor Lyndon Parker! I have already published some of his Notebooks writings, but these were new to me. Here is one such entry, with a truly startling revelation! More to follow…

October 2, 1921

I was surprised at Pons’ visitor today: his younger brother, Winford. The junior is an Anglican priest! He is being sent to work in the Jamaican colonies and came by to say goodbye to his brother.

 After his departure, I observed that Winford had taken a very different path than the ones followed by his elder brothers. Pons sighed. “Indeed, Parker. As my father had little to bestow upon Bancroft, once it became obvious his faculties were rare indeed, a career in government service was sought for my older brother. There was some discussion of my entering the military, but I was determined to set out on my own path, leading me to become the private enquiry agent which you so ably assist.”

 “But from an early age, Winford felt a spiritual calling. I rely on facts, empirical data and supportable deductions as my lodestones. Winford, however, relies on an ethereal faith to guide him.”

 “But Pons,” I protested. “I have heard you say that there is more to the world than we can yet explain.”

 He waved a hand of dismissal. “Of course, Parker. We are not all-knowing. But that applies in instances that cannot be explained in a secular way. My brother does not deny logic. But that is not his foundation. His faith cannot be validated or proven. I could not practice my profession if I approached it from his vocation’s viewpoint.” He paused and shook his head. “Though there is that Irishman, Byrne, who fancies himself the world’s foremost religious consulting detective.” He gave a short, barking laugh.

 I nodded but remained silent. Pons had not even told me of a younger brother and I wanted him to continue talking about him.

 “I follow the evidence where it leads. But as Scotland Yard does all too often, Winford begins with a conclusion and looks for evidence to support it.” Pons reached out and took his pipe from the side table and busied himself with lighting it. I waited expectantly, hoping for more, but he was finished talking about his brother.

 I would only encounter Winford once more, when the tragic affair of the fiery tobacco plantation took us to Jamaica at his brother’s request.

Another Conan post over at BlackGate.com

Conan_RogueWow. I did not realize I hadn’t posted here since April! I haven’t been writing much since wrapping up The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes over at BlackGate.com in March, though I have been reading a LOT.

Lately, it’s been another visit to Hyboria and the world of Conan the Cimmerian. Better known as ‘The Barbarian.’ Which gave me the itch to write something for Black Gate again. So, I did! Click on over for my thoughts on the Tor pastiches that were a very mixed bag.

After reading several pastiches, I pulled the first Del Rey Conan book from the shelf and was again awed by Robert E. Howard’s amazing writing.

A Nero Wolfe Simulation – #1

Having wrapped up my ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column at BlackGate.com and deciding to take a break from the entire Holmes world, I’ve immersed myself in Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books. It’s my favorite series. And I’ve been writing some scenes featuring Wolfe and/or Archie Goodwin. Eventually I’ll be plotting out and writing a couple of short stories, but for now, I’m just working on emulating Stout’s voice as best I can. I will say, writing Wolfe and Archie is a ton of fun!

I was sitting at the little table in the kitchen of the brownstone on West 35th Street, eating wheat cakes with maple syrup. Fritz stood at the stove, eyeing my progress, gauging when to start another. I had The Times open before me and didn’t mind that the agreeable weather would be continuing for a few more days. Having grown up in Ohio, I had adapted to Fall in New York City with no difficulties at all. “How is he?” Fritz asked, breaking our comfortable silence.

He was referring of course, to our employer, Nero Wolfe: The man who took following a routine to levels never before aspired to by mortal man. But on this particular Tuesday morning, he had awoken to a coughing fit and complained of a sore throat.

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