Friday, April 16, 2021

"The Canary Trainer" by Nicholas Meyer

For years, I have wanted to read a book that inserts Sherlock Holmes into The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux.  Why?  Because the edition of that book I first read, way back in 1999, mentioned that some people suggest that the "Rat Catcher" character might actually be Sherlock Holmes in disguise.  I have since learned that Leroux was actually a HUGE fan of Sherlock Holmes, and it's very possible that he meant the Rat Catcher to be Holmes in disguise.  

Well, what Holmesian wouldn't want to read a version of it where that's really Holmes?

So, I was excited to learn that Nicholas Meyer had written a book that mashed the two together.  I've long been a fan of Meyer's book The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and hoped he would do the story justice.  And, for the most part, he did.  Holmes was very Holmes-esque, I like that Irene Adler got to play a part that didn't involve her trying to seduce Holmes (because I'm tired of pastiches that use her that way), and I liked seeing the events of The Phantom of the Opera from a different perspective.

But Holmes isn't the Rat Catcher.  In fact, the Rat Catcher never shows up at all.  I mean, I guess you could say Holmes kind of steps in to take his place in a way?  But... it wasn't how I was hoping, so... I will have to reread this sometime without my expectations in the way, and I think I will be even more pleased with it then.  Which doesn't mean I didn't like it now, because I did!  A lot.  Enough to keep it on my shelves.

Particularly Good Bits:

It is often so with human nature; we take for granted and disparage our greatest gifts and years to be accepted in capacities for which others might be better suited.  Clowns long to enact Hamlet, doctors to write novels, and in my case here was a detective determined to play the violin (p. 46).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG for some mild innuendo, peril to many characters, and several fairly creepy scenes, as befits anything about the Phantom of the Opera.

This is my 17th book read from my TBR shelves for #TheUnreadShelfProject2021.


  1. This is one of Nicolas Meyer's books I haven't read, but as a huge fan of his work, this sounds really cool. I'm honestly not sure I've heard of this one, or if I have, it was a long time ago. Sounds like a perfect combo of things to mash up!

    1. DKoren, I reeeeally liked it, if you can't tell. Much better than The West End Horror... but not quite as much as 7%.

  2. Replies
    1. Skye, I had a good time with it! Not what you'd call Fine Literature, but definitely enjoyable :-)

  3. Huh, I NEVER would've thought of Sherlock Holmes and The Phantom of the Opera being connected in any way, so this sounds cool!


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