THE PROBLEM OF THE EVIL EDITOR by Roberta Rogow
St. Martin's Minotaur, June 2000
What if Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland) and Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the Sherlock Holmes series) became friends with Dodgson attempting to help Doyle's career? This is the premise of Roberta Rogow's THE PROBLEM OF THE EVIL EDITOR. Dodgson introduces Doyle to the Samuel Bassett, publisher of a magazine aimed at children only moments before Bassett ends up dead. Now it is up to Dodgson, assisted by Doyle, to determine who has committed the murder.
Unfortunately for both Bassett and the amateur sleuths, Bassett has no end of enemies. In the few minutes in which Doyle and Dodgson visit him, he admits stealing a story idea from his deputy, fires his clerk, refuses to heat the offices of his printers, mocks his assistants, and insults the efforts of Doyle and a young woman who has been typing for his company. Doyle knows he didn't do it, but did one of the others? Or could it have been a random act of violence. London in 1888 totters at the edge of riot, with a hard winter accompanied by vast chasms between the rich and poor.
Rogow's notion that Doyle's Sherlock Holmes writing is based on Doyle's own adventures with Dodgson form an amusing counter-point to this cozy mystery. Dodgson acts as the Holmes character, uttering phrases such as 'elementary,' while Doyle bumbles about. A wealth of historical data about London during the 1880s adds to the interest, as do such cameo characters as Oscar Wilde, Beatrix Potter, and Whistler. The mystery itself is well presented, with ample red herrings and even hints of romantic interest.
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