By Barrie Roberts.
THE STRAND online.
Some [stories], and not the least interesting, were complete failures, and as such will hardly bear narrating, since no final explanation is forthcoming. A problem without a solution may interest the student, but can hardly fail to annoy the casual reader. Among these unfinished tales is that of Mr. James Phillimore, who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world. — From "The Problem of Thor Bridge" (1922)
"Here we are, Watson, from July of 1903: 'The City of London is still disturbed by the disappearance five days ago of Mr. James Phillimore, the proprietor of Phillimore's Commercial Bank. It will be recalled from our earlier accounts that Mr. Phillimore set out from his home, in company with his mother, at about 11 o'clock last Wednesday. Turning back on some trivial pretext, he ...' "
My mind raced back twenty years to 1903.Phillimore's fate has intrigued other mystery writers, such as Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr in "The Adventure of the Highgate Miracle" (1954) and Ellery Queen in "The Disappearance of Mr. James Phillimore" (1944), nor should we forget August Derleth's Holmes doppelganger Solar Pons: "The Adventure of the Late Mr. Faversham" (1929). For a discussion of some of these pastiches/parodies, go to Chapter 1 of THE ALTERNATIVE SHERLOCK HOLMES (2003), pages 55-62.
Category: Detective fiction