Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Adventure of Micah Clarke

Every now and then, I sort through my shelves and go, "Why do I have all these copies of Micah Clarke?"

And then I squint up my face to demonstrate that I'm thinking very hard and ask my tortured memory cells, "Did I even ever attempt to read Micah Clarke?"

More evidence for the camp that believes I might be one of the worst people in our hobby . . . well, their hobby. I'm a lovely Sherlockian, by my lights. But I suspect  a few Sherlockians also consider being a Sherlockian means being a proper Doylean, and when it comes to that? Oh, yes, I am a horrific Doylean, and I've got the spinning Doyle coffin to prove it.

So, back to Micah Clarke. I have these books for two reasons, the first being the predecessor to the information superhighway, the antique superhighway. In other words, the interstates full of antique malls that appeared across this land and then started fading fast when eBay started scooping up all the good stuff. There was a period, a lovely little period in the last century, when you could actually find Sherlock Holmes items for a buck or two at said antique malls. And if you didn't find Sherlock Holmes, you could find Conan Doyle.

And one of the most common ways to find either Sherlock Holmes or Conan Doyle was in cheap hardcover editions of pirated novels printed before all the copyright arrangements were nailed down between American and England, and Conan Doyle had proper contracts in place.

A Study in Scarlet and Micah Clarke were two well-plundered sources of pirate booty. The former was just as commonly found as the latter in the earliest antique mall days, but no Sherlockian ever stops to go "Why do I have this old copy of A Study in Scarlet?" Micah Clarke, though?

One wonders, now and again. I do need to read it one of these days, I suppose.

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