The Brook Street Mystery Unraveled

In 1972, while still an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, I wrote a lengthy piece of Sherlockiana — titled The Brook Street Mystery Unraveled and subtitled "Being Certain Revelations Regarding Dr. Percy Trevelyan and Mr. Sherlock Holmes" — in which I "proved" that Holmes, the world's foremost private consulting detective, had proposed an incorrect solution to the adventure chronicled by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as "The Resident Patient." An incorrect solution, but not a mistake....

Holmes' explanation of the murder of the elderly Blessington was that he was in reality a bank robber named Sutton who'd changed his identity to hide from his former partners in crime, the Worthingdon gang, who he'd long ago ratted out and sent to prison. The gang, Holmes claimed, had finally been released, and had murdered "Blessington" to avenge his betrayal. But, by the time Holmes figured this all out, the Worthingdon gang had vanished — making this one of the rare occasions when Holmes failed to bring the criminals to justice.

My monograph was divided into five sections:

1. I ripped Holmes' "solution" apart, showing that, based on the facts of the case as presented, it was clearly false.

2. I used the evidence contained in the story to offer a better solution: that the murder was in fact committed by Holmes' client, Percy Trevelyan, Blessington's doctor.

3. I offered the theory that Holmes knew Trevelyan was guilty, but blamed the crime on the Worthingdon gang — whose members he knew were already far beyond the reach of the law — to protect the doctor from being punished for the murder. Why? Because, Holmes realized, Percy Trevelyan was in fact Holmes' long-lost fraternal twin brother!

4. I crafted a "nonfiction" account of the events leading up to the birth of Sherlock and Percy, and an explanation of their having been separated as newborn infants.
5. I tacked on a lighthearted appendix, "Being an Entirely Superfluous Discussion of the Addresses of Sherlock Holmes and Percy Trevelyan."

The finished product was way too long for the Baker Street Journal or any other magazine to use, so I decided to publish it myself. I typed it up extraordinarily carefully — it ran 33 double-spaced pages, not counting title page, copyright page, and errata page (necessary since, extraordinarily careful as I was, I still managed to make five errors and didn't feel like typing the four imperfect pages over again) — had 200 copies printed, numbered them, and advertised them for sale in various Sherlockian publications. (Sold quite a few of them, too!) At the bottom of the front cover, this text appears:

THE 0.06976 PRESS

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a total of four Holmes novels and 56 short stories. One of the novels is titled The Sign of Four (often misquoted as The Sign of the Four). My intellectual West Quad dorm friend Jay Dillon did the trigonometry, and informed me that the sine of 4 is 0.06976. Elementary, my dear Watson!

I no longer have an original copy of The Brook Street Mystery Unraveled, but in 1999 I Googled long-time Sherlockian scholar Peter Blau and found an email address for him, wrote him and asked him to send me a photocopy of his copy (#11). He graciously did, so I was able to reread the monograph almost 30 years after writing it. It's pretty good!

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