cover image The Canary Trainer: From the Memoirs of John H. Watson

The Canary Trainer: From the Memoirs of John H. Watson

. W. W. Norton & Company, $19.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-393-03608-4

The third of the versatile Meyer's canny Conan Doyle pastiches (following the bestselling Seven-Per-Cent Solution and The West End Horror ) takes Sherlock Holmes into new and fanciful terrain with an elaborate romp that embroils him with Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera. Moonlighting incognito as a violinist with the Paris Opera, Holmes again encounters American singer Irene Adler, the only woman who ever outwitted him. She enlists his aid to protect a young soprano from the mysterious and increasingly macabre shenanigans around her--and the game's afoot. Purists may balk at Meyer's rather voluble, emotional Sherlock, but adepts and novices alike will relish the author's adroit mimicry of the narrative conventions of Victorian melodrama and his eye for period detail, including his trademark conceit of slipping historical figures--here Degas, Freud and Leroux himself, among others--into the margins of his tale. Doyle's austere detective sometimes seems a little at sea amidst the florid atmospherics of fin de siecle Paris, and Meyer's casual plotting (piggybacking on the over-familiar Phantom outline) sinks on occasion into travelogue and affords Holmes little opportunity to flex his deductive muscles. But overall, Meyer treats his readers to a lively and entertaining, if undemanding ride. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (Sept.)