The Seven-Percent Solution: 100% fun

Sherlock with his pipe,hat, and tweed coat
Detail from David K. Stone’s cover illustration for The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is a twentieth century addendum to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, written by Dr. Watson with “editing” by Nicholas Meyer.

After he marries, Watson doesn’t see much of Holmes. One evening in April, 1891, when Watson’s wife is away, Holmes drops in, looking ill, behaving oddly, talking wildly.

Watson rightly suspects Holmes is addicted to cocaine.

Hearing that a Dr. Sigmund Freud in Vienna might be able to help, Watson invents a tale that lures Holmes to Vienna where Freud breaks Holmes of his addiction.

Holmes and Watson go along when Freud consults on a case of an attempted suicide.

Under hypnosis, the woman says she’s Nancy Slater Von Leinsdorf, wife of the recently deceased munitions king, Baron Von Leinsdorf. Holmes deduces she’s been held captive by the Baron’s no-good son and heir.

Under suspicion, the dastardly new Baron grabs his stepmother, shoves her in a trunk, and takes off by train for Germany.

Holmes foresees millions killed if the new Baron isn’t prevented from selling arms to Germany, so he Watson, and Freud commission a special train and steam off in hot pursuit.

It’s all delightful fun, even for those who are not Sherlock Holmes fans.

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution:
Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of
John H. Watson, M.D.
By Nicholas Meyer
W. W. Norton ©1974 [paper] 221 p.
1974 bestseller #9. My Grade: B+.

Cover illustration by David K. Stone on plastic-encased library copy of The Seven-Percent-Solution did not photograph well. As the saying goes, the book is better.

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni

 

The Passions of the Mind: Where’s the novel?

In The Passions of the Mind, Irving Stone presents Sigmund Freud as a family man who works hard, walks fast, and writes prodigiously while smoking expensive cigars.

The random pattern represents the Passions of the Mind
Random pattern represents the mind.

He also loves Renaissance art, collecting antiquities, and reading literature.

Freud takes a medical degree, intending to go into research instead of treating patients. Circumstances conspire against him; he ends up practicing as a neurologist in Vienna.

Freud’s inability to treat by conventional means patients whose symptoms don”t arise from physical causes lead him into what in later years would become known as psychoanalysis.

Freud is determined to have his theories accepted by the medical community. To that end, he befriends and nurtures younger analysts, several of whom he supports financially as well as emotionally.

Stone reveals Freud as frequently unaware of the import of events around him, both among fellow practitioners and nationally.

Only as the Freud family suffers deprivation in WWII Vienna and Sigmund develops cancer of the mouth does the analyst begin to seem like a real person.

Stone’s meticulous research (the novel includes a bibliography and a glossary of psychoanalytic terms) will appeal to those already interested in Freud.

Readers looking for an interesting story will be quit reading long before Freud sees his first patient.

The Passions of the Mind: A Novel of Sigmund Freud by Irving Stone
Doubleday, ©1971. [Book club edition.] 856 p.
1971 bestseller #3. My grade: C

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni