You might like this book. There's a new edition out, and 8 of 10 people on Amazon gave it favorable reviews.
I wanted to like it. Maybe I did when I read it back in 1975. But this time it struck me as a perfect example of how NOT to turn a short story into a novel.
According to the Intro, the idea to team up Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger during the Martian invasion began with Wade Wellman, a poet, who took it to his pop, the well-known Manly Wade. Together, they sold a short story to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. When it was well-received, they wrote a sequel. Those two tales, told by Dr. Watson, form the last quarter of this book, and they're not bad. Not much really happens, but it's interesting to see these two fictional minds ponder the problem of the invaders. The sad thing is, these two stories are the best part of the book, but they're so undermined by all that comes before that it's hard to appreciate them.
The book leads off with a tale called "The Adventure of the Crystal Egg," based on a story by H.G. Wells. This one (along with the next two Parts) is told in third person by Edward Dunn Malone, the journalist who is the narrator of the Professor Challenger books. The story has elements of interest. We see how Holmes comes into possession of the egg and meets Challenger, which is pretty good stuff. Then they sit around gazing into the egg, seeing things taking place on Mars, and theorizing about it. But that's all that happens. There is no "Adventure." Though they are the first to know that ships are coming from Mars, they do nothing about it, and simply part ways, which sets up the next two segments of the book.
Part II, called "Sherlock Holmes versus Mars," is another misnomer. Holmes wanders around, sometimes witnessing events and sometimes gathering hearsay. Eventually he has a brief but inconsequential encounter with an invader. Ho hum. The most interesting part was seeing him walk from the village of Ware, north of the city, back to his digs at Baker Street. This was interesting only because my step-daughter once attended college in Ware, and my wife and I made the drive from London to visit her. It was a long and hairy drive.
In effect, Parts II and III served no purpose at all, save to fill in the time (and the book) between the crystal viewing and the arrival of Challenger at Baker Street, where the first magazine story begins. That tale, by the way, is the most misnamed of all. "The Adventure of the Martian Client," has no adventure, and there is no Martian client. Worst of all, it is now relegated to a recap of what little has happened in the first three parts.
Thankfully, the final segment, "Venus, Mars and Baker Street," is aptly named, presents new information, and actually tells a story. Hallelujah. The book ends on a positive note.
But here's the bottom line: If you already own this, or insist on buying it, read the last two stories first. Then proceed, if you wish, to the stuff about the egg. And then, and only then, if you are so inclined, delve into Parts II and III.
PLEASE NOTE: This week, Patti Abbott's Forgotten Book shoes are being filled by George Kelley, and I'm sure he looks absolutely fabulous in them. Find out HERE.
TOMORROW! Direct from the hallowed pages of DAPA-EM comes the Worst Short Story of 1982 - - - "A Bullet for Bouchercon." It's stuffed to the gills with such fictional heroes and villains as Art Scott, Bob Napier, Bill Crider, Walter Albert, John Nieminski, Dorothy Nathan, Kathi Maio, Steve Stilwell and Marv Lachman, with a cameo appearance by Robert B. Parker. Be afraid!