JULIAN SYMONS – A Three Pipe Problem. Harper & Row, US, hardcover, 1975. Collins Crime Club, UK, hardcover, 1975. Reprints include: Avon, US, pb, 1976; Penguin, US, pb, 1984.

JULIAN SYMONS A Three-Pope Problem

   A Three-Pipe Problem is a very enjoyable book! Symons’ hero is Sheridan Haynes (nicknamed Sher), an actor who portrays Sherlock Holmes in a British TV series that was once popular but is now slipping in the ratings.

   Sher demands absolute fidelity to the Holmes stories, which angers those who want to make the show more attractive to the audience by adding a love interest, etc.

   Haynes not only longs for the days when Holmes stalked London, but has even insisted on living in the old rooms in Baker street. His obsession with Holmes causes doubts about his sanity, and problems with his wife and co-workers.

   Haynes, in his role of Holmes, becomes gradually more involved in a case known as the Karate Killings, to the consternation of all. He states that Sherlock Holmes could have solved the case, then sets out to do it with the help of a Watson, and some Baker Street Irregulars (actually Traffic Wardens).

   Symons keeps the various strands of his story well in hand until they all come together on a cold and foggy London night, with Haynes/Holmes tracking the Karate Killer.

   Sher Haynes is a sympathetic character and the book, if improbable, is a lot of fun and very well done. Sherlockians should enjoy it.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 1, No. 3, May 1977.

Bibliographic Note:   Sheridan Haynes made an encore appearance The Kentish Manor Murders (Viking, 1988).