Solar Pons

Created by August Derleth (1909-71)

"How many budding authors, not even old enough to vote, could have captured the spirit and atmosphere with as much fidelity?"

-- Ellery Queen on "The Norcross Riddle"

One of the better-received -- and certainly the longest-running -- Sherlock Holmes pastiches comes from the heart of the American Midwest. When he was still a teenager, August Derleth impetuously wrote Arthur Conan Doyle a fan letter and asked, since Doyle would apparently not be producing any more Holmes work, if he could pick up the mantle.

The reply from Doyle, while encouraging, left little doubt that his literary creation would remain retired and tending to his beehives in Sussex. Undeterred, Derleth created an homage to Holmes in the phonetically similar SOLAR PONS, a professional detective every bit the equal of Holmes -- some have dubbed Pons "The Great Pretender" -- and soon began cranking them out.

Following the rules of the pastiche, his assistant was Dr. Lyndon Parker (in the Watson role); their long-suffering landlady was Mrs. Johnson (instead of Hudson); he has a smarter, albeit lazy brother Bancroft (in the place of Mycroft) in the foreign service and Pons and Parker reside at 7B Praed Street. Pons' London is between the two World Wars, and all stories take place between 1921 and 1939, and (unlike Holmes) Pons makes use of all the technology available to him -- including telephones, aircraft and automobiles.

He is certainly more upbeat than the phlegmatic Sherlock Holmes, and in a nice (and somewhat cheeky) turn, the literary characters of Holmes (not to mention Fu Manchu and Hercule Poirot, all in slightly disguised form) inhabit the Pons universe.

The Pons stories and novellas began to appear in various pulp magazines in the late 1920s, and were later compiled into book form, and Derleth continued to write them right up to his death in 1971.

As pastiche goes, they're generally considered quite good -- rarely do such obvioius copies of an original have so many impressive followers. Solar Pons can count among his fans the likes of Ellery Queen, Vincent Starrett and Anthony Boucher. Certainly, there are some inadvertent and amusing errors in language, grammar, spelling and geography stemming from an American author from the midwest trying to write in the voice of a 1920's Londoner (Derleth rarely left the confines of his beloved Sauk City, Wisconsin), but these creeping "American-isms" were explained away by having the Parker character living in the USA for a time, which had apparently influenced his speech and writing. At their best, Derleth's Pons stories are as good as Doyle's Holmes.

The "official" count of Derleth's Pons short stories is somewhat contestable-- certainly there are 67 short stories and one in novel in the "Pontine Canon," as it's known. Two additional stories were co-written with science fiction writer Mack Reynolds, one story was co-written with editor Peter Ruber and a posthumous collection of found and largely unedited stories was released in 1998 with the blessing of the Derleth estate. The seven "official" Derleth collections were reprinted as mass market paperbacks by Pinnacle Books in the mid-late 1970's to a good degree of success and used copies can be easily found online. A small Canadian imprint continues to publish these same books as well as the 1998 posthumous collection to this day.

The series was even continued after Derleth's death in 1971. The estate handpicked successor crime writer Basil Copper (author of the Mike Faraday private eye novels) as Derleth's successor. Copper wrote a total of eight Solar Pons books from 1979-2004, and while these are certainly solid and enjoyable outings, they lack, in my opinion, the snap of the originals.

Derleth went on to become a very prolific author and anthologist, penning historical fiction, poetry, children's tales and science fiction. He was one of the first to publish horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, and went on to found Arkham House, one of the first hardcover publishers of supernatural fiction in the US.

SHORT STORIES

  • "The Adventure of the Black Narcissus" (February 1929, The Dragnet)
  • "The Adventure of the Missing Tenants" (June 1929, The Dragnet)
  • "The Adventure of the Broken Chessman" (September 1929, The Dragnet)
  • "The Adventure of the Late Mr. Faversham" (December 1929, The Dragnet)
  • "The Adventure of the Limping Man" (December 1929, Detective Trails)
  • "The Adventure of the Black Cardinal" (March 1930, Gangster Stories)
  • "The Adventure of the Norcross Riddle" (1944, The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes)
  • "The Adventure of the Frightened Baronet" (1945, Re: Sherlock Holmes)
  • "The Adventure of the Lost Holiday" (1945, Re: Sherlock Holmes)
  • "The Adventure of the Man with the Broken Face" (1945, Re: Sherlock Holmes)
  • "The Adventure of the Purloined Periapt" (1945, Re: Sherlock Holmes)
  • "The Adventure of the Retired Novelist" (1945, Re: Sherlock Holmes)
  • "The Adventure of the Seven Passengers" (1945, Re: Sherlock Holmes)
  • "The Adventure of the Sotheby Salesman" (1945, Re: Sherlock Holmes)
  • "The Adventure of the Three Red Dwarfs" (1945, Re: Sherlock Holmes)
  • "The Adventure of the Circular Room" (July 1946, The Baker Street Journal)
  • "The Adventure of the Six Silver Spiders" (October 1950, EQMM; aka "The Six Silver Spiders")
  • "The Adventure of the Perfect Husband" (1951, Illustrious Client's Third Case-Book)
  • "The Adventure of the Tottenham Werewolf" (1951, The Memoirs of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of Ricoletti of the Club Foot" (1951, The Memoirs of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Dog in the Manger" (1951, The Memoirs of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Five Royal Coachmen" (1951, The Memoirs of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Lost Locomotive" (1951, The Memoirs of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Paralytic Mendicant" (1951, The Memoirs of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Proper Comma" (1951, The Memoirs of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Camberwell Beauty" (1952)
  • "The Adventure of the Remarkable Worm" (1952)
  • "The Adventure of the Rydberg Numbers" (1952)
  • "The Adventure of the Snitch in Time" (July 1953, F&SF; co-written with Mack Reynolds)
  • "The Adventure of the Swedenborg Signatures" (June 1954, Nero Wolfe Mystery Magazine; also as "The Swedenborg Signatures")
  • "The Adventure of the Penny Magenta" (November 1954, The Saint)
  • "The Adventure of the Lost Dutchman" (January 1955, Pursuit; aka "The Case of the Lost Dutchman")
  • "The Adventure of the Ball of Nostradamus" (June 1955, F&SF; co-written with Mack Reynolds)
  • "The Adventure of the Mazarine Blue" (June 1956, Hunted; aka "The Thirteenth Coffin")
  • "The Adventure of the Trained Cormorant" (October 1956, The Saint)
  • "Adventure of the Grice-Paterson Curse" (November 1956, Pursuit)
  • "The Adventure of the Devilís Footprints" (1956, Double-Action Detective and Mystery Stories #4; aka "The Devil's Footprints)
  • "The Adventure of the 'Triple Kentî'" (April 1957, The Saint)
  • "Adventure of the Little Hangman" (September 1957, The Saint)
  • "The Adventure of the Dorrington Inheritance" (March 1958, The Saint; aka "The Dorrington Inheritance")
  • "The Adventure of the Stone of Scone" (1958, The Return of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Hats of Mr. Dulac" (January 1959, The Saint; aka "The Adventure of the Stolen Hats)
  • "The Adventure of the Mosaic Cylinders" (Aug 1959, The Saint)
  • "The Adventure of the Cloverdale Kennels" (June 1960, The Saint)
  • "The Adventure of the Troubled Magistrate" (February 1961, AHMM; aka "Others Deal in Death")
  • "The Adventure of the Blind Clairaudient" (June 1961, The Saint [UK])
  • "The Adventure of the Praed Street Irregulars" (1961, Reminiscences of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Sussex Archers (October 1962, AHMM)
  • "The Adventure of the Fatal Glance (February 1963, The Saint [UK])
  • "The Adventure of the Whispering Knights" (September 1963, The Saint)
  • "The Adventure of the Haunted Library" (November 1963, AHMM)
  • "The Adventure of the Intarsia Box" (March 1964, AHMM)
  • "The Adventure of the Crouching Dog" (July 1964, The Saint)
  • "The Adventure of the Amateur Philologist" (September 1964, AHMM; aka "The Amateur Philologist")
  • "The Adventure of the Spurious Tamerlane" (December 1964, The Saint)
  • "The Adventure of the China Cottage" (March 1965, AHMM; aka "The China Cottage")
  • "The Adventure of the Missing Huntsman" (August 1965, The Saint [UK])
  • "The Adventure of the Orient Express" (1965)
  • "The Adventure of the Ascott Scandal" (1965, The Casebook of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Innkeeper's Clerk" (1965, The Casebook of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Red Leech" (October 1966, AHMM)
  • "The Adventure of the Unique Dickensians" (1968)
  • "The Adventure of the Bookseller's Clerk" (1968, A Praed Street Dossier)
  • "From the Notebooks of Dr. Lyndon Parker (1968, A Praed Street Dossier; "article")
  • The Adventure of the Aluminium Crutch" (1973, The Chronicles of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Benin Bronze" (1973, The Chronicles of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Bishop's Companion" (1973, The Chronicles of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Golden Bracelet" (1973, The Chronicles of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Seven Sisters" (1973, The Chronicles of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Shaplow Millions" (1973, The Chronicles of Solar Pons)

  • By Basil Copper
  • "The Adventure of the Crawling Horror" (1979, The Secret Files of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Anguished Actor" (1979, The Secret Files of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Anguished Actress" (1979, The Secret Files of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Ignored Idols" (1979, The Secret Files of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of Buffington Old Grange" (1979, The Dossier of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Hammer of Hate" (1979, The Dossier of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Ipi Idol" (1979, The Dossier of Solar Pons
  • "The Adventure of the Perplexed Photographer" (1979, The Dossier of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Six Gold Doubloons" (1979, The Dossier of Solar Pons)
  • "The Sealed Spire Mystery" (1979, The Dossier of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Singular Sandwich" (1980, The Uncollected Cases of Solar Pons)
  • The Adventure of the Defeated Doctor" (1979, The Further Adventures of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Missing Student" (1979, The Further Adventures of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Shaft of Death" (1979, The Further Adventures of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Surrey Sadist" (1979, The Further Adventures of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Haunted Rectory" (1980, The Uncollected Cases of Solar Pons)
  • "Murder at the Zoo" (1980, The Uncollected Cases of Solar Pons)
  • "Mr. Fairlie's Final Journey (1982, The Solar Pons Omnibus, Volume Two)
  • "The Adventure of the Frightened Governess" (1987, Further Adventures of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Callous Colonel" (1993, The Exploits of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Phantom Face" (1993, The Exploits of Solar Pons)
  • The Adventure of the Vergerís Thumb" (1993, The Exploits of Solar Pons)
  • "Death at the Metropole" (1993, The Exploits of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Green Stars" (1994, The Unpublished Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Muttering Man" (1994, The Unpublished Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Sinister House" (1994, The Unpublished Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of the Viennese Musician" (1994, The Unpublished Solar Pons)
  • The Adventure of the Singular Sandwich" (1995)
  • The Adventure of the Cursed Curator" (1995, The Recollections of Solar Pons)
  • The Adventure of the Hound of Hell" (1995, The Recollections of Solar Pons)
  • The Adventure of the Mad Millionaire" (1995, The Recollections of Solar Pons)
  • The Adventure of the Singular Sandwich" (1995, The Recollections of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of Gresham Old Place" (1998, The Final Adventures of Solar Pons)
  • "The Adventure of The Burlstone Horror" (1998, The Final Adventures of Solar Pons; later version of "The Adventure of the Sinister House")
  • "The Adventure of the Extra-Terrestrial" (1998, The Final Adventures of Solar Pons; co-written with Mack Reynolds)
  • "The Adventure of the Nosferatu" (1998, The Final Adventures of Solar Pons; co-written with Mack Reynolds)
  • "More from Dr. Parker's Notebooks" (1998, The Final Adventures of Solar Pons)
  • "Terror Over London" (1998, The Final Adventures of Solar Pons)

COLLECTIONS

  • Re: Sherlock Holmes: The Adventures of Solar Pons (1945)
  • The Memoirs of Solar Pons (1951)
  • Three Problems for Solar Pons (1952)
  • The Return of Solar Pons (1958)
  • Reminiscences of Solar Pons (1961)
  • The Casebook of Solar Pons (1965)
  • Praed Street Papers (1965)
  • A Praed Street Dossier (1968)
  • The Chronicles of Solar Pons (1973)

  • By Basil Copper
  • The Dossier of Solar Pons (1979)
  • The Further Adventures of Solar Pons (1979, 1987)

Reprinted in 1987 with stories presented as the author wrote them, i.e., free of the unauthorized revisions incorporated in the original 1979 printing.

  • The Secret Files of Solar Pons (1979)
  • The Uncollected Cases of Solar Pons (1980)
  • The Solar Pons Omnibus, Volume One (1982)
  • The Solar Pons Omnibus, Volume Two (1982)
  • The Exploits of Solar Pons (1993)
  • The Unpublished Solar Pons (1994)
  • The Recollections of Solar Pons (1995)
  • The Final Adventures of Solar Pons (1998)

NOVELS

  • Mr. Fairlie's Final Journey (1968)
  • Solar Pons and the Devil's Claw (2004)

Report respectfully submitted by Gregg Zullo, with additional research by Kevin Burton Smith.


| Home | Detectives A-L M-Z | Film | Radio | Television | Web Comics | Comics | FAQs | Search |
| Trivia | Authors | Hall of Fame | Mystery Links | Bibliography | Glossary | Advertising |
| This Just In... | Word on the Street | Non-Fiction | Fiction | Staff | The P.I. Poll |

Drop a dime. Your comments, suggestions, corrections and contributions are always welcome.
"...and I'll tell you right out that I'm a man who likes talking to a man that likes to talk."

Copyright 1998-2017, thrillingdetective.com. All rights reserved.
Web site by The Thrilling Detective Web Guy