I was talking to a friend who agreed with me that Holmes's voice was not quite right in this story. We identified the issue as over-exuberance. Unfortunately, a less exuberant Holmes made for a less funny story. Since there are things to be said for each version, I am posting both. Here is the better characterized, but less entertaining Holmes:


It was December of 1881, several months after the successful conclusion of the events I have since narrated as "A Study in Scarlet," and Sherlock Holmes and I were lounging by the fire, both unemployed and very bored. He reclined in his chair, a pipe hanging out of his mouth, his feet on the ottoman, and his eyes closed, completely surrendered to ennui. I, on the other hand, was at least attempting to occupy my mind. I was rereading my favorite novels, particularly the ones I had collected in serial form. I had just come to the end of an installment dated September 1870. I threw down the much-thumbed magazine with a sigh, as I had so many times since I first learned that it would never be followed up. I admired the author immensely, and was still unreasonably disgusted that he had left this story unfinished.

"Why couldn't he have finished it!" I huffed.

"There are many reasons for not finishing a narrative, doctor. Particularly one of…Ah!" (he had opened one eye to peer at the cover of the magazine now lying on the floor) "a mystery, I perceive." And he sat up, suddenly alert. "In the annals of crime there are many instances of potential informants being hindered at the last moment, either by blackmail or by threats of physical violence. But we should not theorize about the case of…" He looked again at the cover "…Mr. Charles Dickens prematurely. What facts do we—"

"He's dead, Holmes."

"Oh." He slumped back in disappointment. "Then why did you ask? You know full well why he did not finish it."

"I wasn't looking for an answer; I was just complaining."

He shot me an irritated look, but after a moment straightened up again, the thrill of the chase rekindled in his eyes. "Nevertheless, this may still prove to be a case of some interest. Is it not curious that a man in the midst of publishing an account of a mystery—the murder of Edwin Drood?—should be cut off before the murderer is revealed? I will search the account for clues, and then pursue the case myself. Justice will not be thwarted!"

At this grandiose statement I burst into laughter. "Holmes! I know you don't keep up with modern literature, but do you honestly not know that Charles Dickens was a famous novelist who died of natural causes about ten years ago? This is a work of fiction!"

He never liked to be laughed at, and he was obviously disgusted that this was not a new case for him, so he turned away from me pointedly. "If it is fiction, then it is of no consequence to me. Finish it yourself! Don't bother me with your absurd complaints." With that he settled back in his chair and closed his eyes.

I stared at him for a few moments, torn between annoyance and amusement. "I'm a doctor, not a writer!" I muttered as I got up to find another book.