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"what do the public, the great unobservant public...care about the finer shades of analysis and deduction!" [COPP]

I really don't have time for this. My second daughter Esther was born the day before yesterday, and right now I have to spend the rest of my spare time finishing the English version of my book From Holmes to Sherlock. So you will all understand that I have plenty of important things to do - and writing this blog post was definitely not on that list.

However, that British newspaper The Sunday Times makes it impossible for me not to react. Today they published the utmost rubbish ("Literary sleuth unmasks Conan Doyle as plot thief" [paywall] regarding Conan Doyle, and I just get so annoyed. It seems that anyone can claim whatever they want about Conan Doyle – and the newspapers will believe it. Even The Sunday Times.

We have seen it so many times before. Just mention Conan Doyle's name, and the journalists will lose all interest in checking the credibility of the source. Especially if the source is not at all a Conan Doyle expert. In the newspaper world anyone saying anything about Conan Doyle is an expert. In the case of the Scottish man who found a short story last year that he thought was written by Conan Doyle, he even said himself that he was no Conan Doyle expert, yet the newspapers treated his views on the authenticity of the story as the views of an expert. And they saw no need to contact a real Conan Doyle expert before spreading the extraordinary news over the world. (The Scottish man was wrong, of course.)

This time it's Harper Collins that just want publicity for a forthcoming anthology. So they contacted The Sunday Times. On June 16 they will publish The Crime Club – and this is how they describe the book on their web site: 
"The Detective Story Club’s first short story anthology is based around a London detective club and includes three newly discovered tales unpublished for 100 years, plus a story bearing an uncanny resemblance to a Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes story but written some seven years earlier."
The story with the "uncanny resemblance" is a short story from 1915 with a plot that is extremely close to the plot of "The Problem of Thor Bridge", which Conan Doyle wrote in 1921 and published in 1922. According to The Sunday Times it was the proof reader Hugo Lamb who noticed this resemblance, and David Brawn at Harper Collins "has no doubt that Lamb has solved a literary crime." Brawn concludes, "It's real plagiarism."

Oh, please. Why not take the time to do some research before you contact The Times? Or here's a stretch: how about a good old fashioned Google search? I tried – it took me two minutes to search for "thor bridge plot origin", which led me to search for "thor bridge hans gross" – and then I had all the material I needed.

This is no secret – anyone can find it in e.g. Leslie S. Klinger's The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes (published by W.W. Norton). It was Conan Doyle's editor at the Strand Magazine, H. Greenhough Smith, who gave Conan Doyle the plot idea for this story. Smith had found it – an authentic crime case – in Dr Hans Gross' Criminal Investigation – A Practical Handbook, published in English in 1906, and in German already in 1893. Since the authors of the 1915 story were a superintendent and a police historian, they had of course read the same non-fiction book, and based their story on it.

What really bothers me is not only this article in The Sunday Times, but the fact that Harper Collins, according to their presentation of the book, seems to make a mystery of something that is not a mystery, and while doing so are making accusations against Conan Doyle that are totally unfair and false. 

However, anyone can be a Conan Doyle expert. Just go ahead and claim whatever you want. People will publish it. And I will – again – waste my time on complaining about it.

Finally, I want to apologize to my family and to my American publisher Otto Penzler for having written this blog post. I had no choice.

[Editor's note: Mattias Bostrom, BSI ("The Swedish Pathological Society") is the author of Från Holmes Till Sherlock and writes for I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere typically only under duress.]