22 Jun 2016
Today’s entry from the 223B Casebook series of parodies and pastiches is actually a Sherlock Holmes puzzle. It was part of a series that ran from 1900 to 1901 in the Sunday supplement of the Philadelphia Press.
These puzzles were created by John French Sloan. A member of the realist Ashcan School, Sloan’s best works depicted New York City street life. He is best known for “McSorley’s Bar” (1912).
Each puzzle consisted of a large colorful image with a set of simple rules for solving it. The answer could require the reader to fold the image back on itself, solve a maze, find the hidden image, or, as in this Sherlockian puzzle, decode a message. Readers would compete for a $10 prize.
In the puzzle below, the conditions read: “Sherlock Holmes is trying to solve the problem of the paper on the floor. He cannot do it. Can you?” I altered the color in an attempt to make the newsprint white, in the belief (probably in vain) that it would look fresher.
If you want to tray a hand at solving it yourself, here’s a close-up of the paper at the bottom of the page. Don’t scroll up too high, because the answer’s coming.
While this puzzle is not in any of my books (at least those that are out there now), before we get to the answer, let’s drop in a little ad.
“Sherlock Holmes Edwardian Parodies and Pastiches I: 1900-1904” is available at all fine online book and ebook sellers, plus New York City’s Mysterious Bookshop (and soon at Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg).
Want to read more parodies and pastiches? The complete list can be found here.
Are you still here? Right. Let’s drop an image of the answer to the Sherlock Holmes puzzle. Yes, it’s not a code or a math problem. It’s a reversible message that the reader had to either hold up to a mirror or look at it from the next page.
Here’s the image: