Sherlock WWI Parody: The Terrors of War

I’ve taken a break from publishing the 223B Casebook Series in order to work on other books in the Peschel Press line. But that doesn’t mean I’m neglecting Sherlock (as if he would let me!).

sherlock holmes parodiesToday we’re looking to the next book in the series, volume 4, covering the years 1910-1914. It’s title: “Sherlock Holmes Great War Parodies and Pastiches I,” is a little bit of a stretch, since only 1914 is included. It might be more properly called “Edwardian III,” except that it does have some Great War material in it, and I hated the idea of an asymmetrical series of titles. “Victorian / Edward I / Edward II / Great War I / Great War II / Jazz Age I and Jazz Age II” looks ever so much better.

Anyway, for the next month, we’re looking ahead to that volume, starting with this rare Sherlock WWI parody.

The 223B Casebook Series is available at all fine online book and ebook sellers, plus New York City’s Mysterious Bookshop and Harrisburg’s Midtown Scholar.

(Yes, I finally got off my duff and arranged with the Scholar to have signed copies of the entire line there, including “Writers Gone Wild.” Look for the Consignment Section in the back, one level down off the main floor.)

Want to read more parodies and pastiches? The complete list can be found here.

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The ongoing digitization of old magazines and newspapers has made it much easier for researchers to strike gold. Such is the case here, a Sherlock Holmes parody from Punch magazine that had not seen the light of day since 1914!

In the Dec. 9 issue, N.R. Martin predicted that publishers will soon roll out “war romances” featuring unrealistic examples of stiff-upper-lip derring-do at the front lines and families back home pulling together to support their soldier sons and fathers. He followed with two examples, one from the Clayhanger Family novels by Arnold Bennett, and this, putting Holmes in the field alongside Dr. Watson.

Nothing is known of Martin.

The Terrors of War

N.R. Martin

[Being privileged extracts from two of next season’s War Romances.]

From: “The Military Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes”—

I shrank down into a corner of the reserve trench. The fifteen inches of half-frozen mud caused my old wound from an Afghan bullet to ache viciously. I longed for some wounded to arrive — anything to end this chilly inactivity. A tall officer in staff uniform jumped into the trench beside me.

“You are wishing yourself back in Baker Street,” he remarked.

“How did you know?” I exclaimed. “Why, Holmes, what are you doing here?”

“Business, my dear Watson, business. Moriarty is becoming troublesome again.”

“But he was drowned.”

“Far too clever to be drowned in that pool. Merely stranded on the edge like myself. But I had made England too hot for him. You can guess his name.”

“Not the K—”

“Watson, Watson, Moriarty was my mental equal. Now he calls himself von Kluck.”

I was overwhelmed.

Just then a little group of the staff arrived. I recognised amongst them the figures of General J— and Field Marshal F—, and saluted.

“The spy in staff uniform is the third on your left, Sir,” said Holmes casually.

The Field-Marshal beckoned a firing party.

As the shots rang out I whispered, “How did you know he wasn’t English?”

“Watson, Watson, did you not see that he had no handkerchief in his sleeve?”

* * * * *

“It is all-important, Captain Holmes,” said the British Commander, “that we should ascertain what army is opposing our right wing. Our airmen are useless in this fog. I detail you for this duty.”

Holmes saluted. “Come, Watson,” he said, and led me through the fog towards the enemy’s lines. We had not walked a mile when we reached a fine chateau.

“You are cold, Watson,” said Holmes. “Light a fire in the front room whilst I scout for Uhlans.”

In a moment he returned to me after having looked round the house. It was, I think, the first time the Chateau had known the scent of shag tobacco. A glow of heat rushed through me. I felt like another man.

“Better than the trenches,” said Holmes, penetrating to my inmost thought. We sat for an hour and then I said, “Holmes, your mission.”

“Ah, I forgot. Come on.”

He led me into the thickening fog, and in a few minutes I was surprised to find myself in the British lines. The General emerged as we approached. Holmes saluted. “The Crown Prince’s army is on the enemy’s left, Sir. It is now in rapid retreat.”

The General shook him warmly by the hand.

“But, Holmes,” I said, as we went away. “We have done nothing. The lives of thousands of our men may depend on this.”

“My dear Watson,” said Holmes, tapping the dottel of his pipe into his hand. “I used my eyes. In the house we visited the silver had almost all vanished. Inference — Crown Prince. But two solid silver spoons had been left on the table. Inference — Crown Prince in a hurry. Really, I am ashamed to explain a deduction which an intelligent child could have made.”

Footnotes

[Return] Uhlans: German light cavalry regiments, mostly from Prussia, that carried 10-foot-long lances. Similar units existed in Austria-Hungarian, Polish and Lithuanian armies. After the first months of the war, it became clear that the days of mounted cavalry in the West had ended. Many regiments were shipped to the Eastern Front, while the rest were sent to the Eastern Front where they could continue to maneuver. The units were disbanded at the end of the war.