For every Sherlock Holmes story written by Arthur Conan Doyle, there have been innumerable pastiches of his (or Doctor Watson’s?) style. I confess to having been responsible for several myself. As a Holmes fan since my schooldays, I have always admired the great consulting detective, as well as Conan Doyle’s sharp, atmospheric writing. Many of the best crime writers have tried their hand at Sherlockian stories and Robert Richardson and Laurie R. King, for instance, have cleverly introduced their pastiches into novels featuring their series detectives, Augustus Maltravers and Kate Martinelli, in The Book of the Dead and The Art of Detection respectively.
Ellery Queen (the famous pseudonym concealed the identities of cousins Manfred Lee and Fred Dannay) was not just, arguably, the finest American writer of Golden Age detective fiction, but also a notable anthologist. This collection of pastiches was one of Queen’s most impressive achievements; contributors included Mark Twain, O. Henry, Agatha Christie, Stephen Leacock and J.M.Barrie. But the Conan Doyle estate, famously sensitive, objected to the book and it was quickly withdrawn. In the finest traditions of popular, suppressed books, however, a number of copies escaped into circulation and this is one of them, number 31 of 125 copies signed by Fred Dannay as Ellery Queen for presentation to friends and admirers of Holmes at the Sherlock Holmes Dinner held on 31 March 1944 at the Murray Hill Hotel in New York City.