Fans of Sherlock Holmes know that the fictional detective never met a mystery he wasn't able to solve, thanks to his astute observations, magnifying glass, tweed coat — and the help of his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson. But in author Larry Millett's newest novel, "Sherlock Holmes and the Eisendorf Enigma," Holmes encounters a situation that will require the help of another doctor before he can continue solving any more "three-pipe problems."
Millett, an author from St. Paul, Minnesota, chose to make Mayo Clinic "a part of the action" in his most recent book about the celebrated sleuth. The novel begins with an aging Holmes at Mayo Clinic in the 1920s, seeking the counsel of one Henry Plummer, M.D., to help him solve something of a medical mystery (to him). Millett tells us Dr. Plummer is "one of the few real characters in the book." Millett seems to be setting the stage for Holmes to face perhaps his greatest villain yet: his own deteriorating health.
"The 'condition' as Holmes called it, had come on slowly in recent years," Millett writes. "It was like a little catch at the end of each breath, as though his lungs could not quite empty themselves of air." And when "not even the fine salty air of Sussex … proved to be an anodyne," Holmes decides to "consult the famed Dr. Henry Plummer at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota," who diagnoses the detective with emphysema. "I will be honest with you sir, there is little to be done," Dr. Plummer tells Holmes while giving his diagnosis. "Emphysema is not a death sentence. But you will certainly have to stop smoking at once."
As Millett tells us, this is not the caped investigator's first visit to Mayo Clinic. In Millet's previous book, "Strongwood," Holmes makes a covert visit to Mayo to see his friend and associate, Dr. John Watson, following Dr. Watson's gallbladder removal surgery. And while Holmes' latest visit to Mayo may cause readers to worry about the future health of their beloved protagonist, Millett tells us that's not his authorial intent. "It's just meant to humanize him," he says. "Holmes is 66 years old now in this new book, so he's getting older."
Asked why he chose to have Holmes seek treatment from Dr. Plummer, Millett tells us it goes back to another book he's written with ties to Mayo Clinic, a historical work about the "history of estates and houses in Minnesota" that includes the Plummer House in Rochester. "I thought he'd be an interesting person to bring into the book, so I sent Holmes down there for a visit," Millett says of Dr. Plummer.
To learn out if Holmes follows the good doctor's orders and puts down his pipe, you can find a clue here. Then, you can share your comments below and this story with others using the social media tools.