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The Canary Trainer: From the Memoirs of John H. Watson Hardcover – September, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 1st edition (September 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393036081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393036084
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #328,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The third of the versatile Meyer's canny Conan Doyle pastiches (following the bestselling Seven-Per-Cent Solution and The West End Horror ) takes Sherlock Holmes into new and fanciful terrain with an elaborate romp that embroils him with Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera. Moonlighting incognito as a violinist with the Paris Opera, Holmes again encounters American singer Irene Adler, the only woman who ever outwitted him. She enlists his aid to protect a young soprano from the mysterious and increasingly macabre shenanigans around her--and the game's afoot. Purists may balk at Meyer's rather voluble, emotional Sherlock, but adepts and novices alike will relish the author's adroit mimicry of the narrative conventions of Victorian melodrama and his eye for period detail, including his trademark conceit of slipping historical figures--here Degas, Freud and Leroux himself, among others--into the margins of his tale. Doyle's austere detective sometimes seems a little at sea amidst the florid atmospherics of fin de siecle Paris, and Meyer's casual plotting (piggybacking on the over-familiar Phantom outline) sinks on occasion into travelogue and affords Holmes little opportunity to flex his deductive muscles. But overall, Meyer treats his readers to a lively and entertaining, if undemanding ride. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Fresh (or stale) from his encounters with Freud (The Seven-Per- Cent Solution, 1974) and Jack the Ripper (The West End Horror, 1976), Sherlock Holmes comes up against the Phantom of the Opera, with mixed results. Disguised as a Norwegian violinist who replaces a performer at the Paris Opera who's been frightened off by the Phantom, Holmes is blackmailed by the woman, Irene Adler, into contracting to protect soprano Christine Daa‚ (who's so innocent that she believes the mysterious singing master who calls himself ``Nobody'' is the Angel of Music) from her ghostly patron. At first the Phantom seems intent on terrorizing everyone but La Daa‚: her replacement as Faust's Marguerite, the oblivious incoming directors, even the new woman who tends the Grand Tier left boxes. No sooner has Holmes guessed at the Phantom's identity, though, than he spirits La Daa‚ off to the cavernous Opera basement for the requisite--and anticlimactic--finale. Should appeal to those fans (and there will be plenty) who can overlook the undistinguished stylistic pastiche--Holmes rather unwisely narrates this lost adventure himself--the footnotes that explain every last Holmesian reference, and the unfortunate poverty of the plot. (First printing of 50,000) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

I recommend that you read it for all these reasons.
Lorraine Talbot
These two novels pair Holmes with characters who are at the very least equal to the task of dealing with or against him.
Joseph A. Carcasole
The novel has a very strange and disappointing ending.
Ken

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on August 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
But it's not as bad as all that. Nevertheless if you want to read Meyer's Holmes pastiches I'd recommend starting with the other two (_The Seven Per Cent Solution_ and _The West End Horror_). Meyer at his best is splendid.

If you do so, then be sure to ignore the misinformation in the Kirkus Reviews excerpt above. _The West End Horror_ has nothing to do with Jack the Ripper; it concerns a pair of grisly murders that take place in London's theater district. I assume the reviewer is thinking of Edward Hanna's _The Whitechapel Horrors_.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lorraine Talbot on August 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, perhaps more so than other reviewers because I've never seen "The Phantom of the Opera" and if I read the book, it's decades ago, so I came to this with an open mind. And I'm reading it because it's a Sherlock Holmes story. I've read and re-read the originals and enjoy the pastiches if they capture the voice or essence of Doyle's work.

I read Meyer's first two Holmes books but missed this one somehow for over a decade. It's as good as the earlier ones, I think. Holmes is telling the story and it sounds like him and what we have of Watson is very Watson-like. Holmes as an orchestra violinist is believable. And what fun it is! What a villanous villain Nobody is. And what an attractive bunch of characters, the innocent Christine, helpful, friendly Ponelle. Holmes is not a man who cultivates friends. Even "that woman" turns up wearing her masculine disguise. And that labyrinth of basements beneath the Opera House. I haven't a clue if the really exist or if they figured in "Phantom", but they made a fine setting for this story.

I recommend that you read it for all these reasons.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Harris on September 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
I've read all three of Nicholas Meyer's Sherlockian pastiches, and oddly enough, this one's my favorite. Yes, it lacks Watson, yes, everyone already knows the story of the Phantom of the Opera, and yes, Meyer stupidly describes a real-life character as dead when he was actually very much alive - but the plot is fast-paced, and Holmes makes a good enough narrator that Watson's absence doesn't hurt as much as it might. Although it has Irene Adler in it, Meyer knows better than to turn the book into a romance. In fact, Holmes' reaction to Adler's presence is nicely ambiguous; while he's clearly attracted/fascinated by "the woman," he just as clearly wishes she'd go away and leave him alone! Get it from the library and see if it appeals to you before you buy it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jaclyn Mussehl on January 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a big fan of both Sherlock Holmes and the Phantom of the opera, I eagerly looked forward to reading this book, but found it disappointing. The premise itself is great - the master detective investigating the strange occurrences at the Paris Opera house. However, Holmes makes many uncharacteristic blunders throughout his investigation, and his work is hampered by the fact that he must keep his true identity a secret, since he is believed to be dead at the time. The book also suffers because of the absence of Dr. Watson. The book also shows Christine Daae as an idiot, and the Phantom as an evil maniac with no redeeming qualities.
I really enjoyed Nicholas Meyer's previous two Holmes pastiches, "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution" and "The West-End Horror," but I don't feel that "The Canary Trainer" is as good as its two predecessors. It was a very interesting premise, but I just don't like the way Meyer handled it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "mambodog" on August 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
The description of the Opera house is so well done that it almost becomes a character unto itself. The powers of the ghost are convincing - how could any human accomplish the deeds attributed to it? Has Holmes met a force beyond the reach of his genius and logic? Original tale and yet it keeps the charm of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle alive.
I was always facinated by Holmes' two creative crutches - cocaine and the violin. The use of one or the other always brought the needed solution into his mind and so I was very pleased that Meyer showed us more about Holmes' musical abilities. Bringing Irene Adler into the story was also a nice touch.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Carroll VINE VOICE on April 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
Meyer continues his version of Sherlock Holmes with a tale of Holmes' lost years after the "Moriarty Problem." Holmes becomes a violinist for the Paris Opera and through the intervention of Irene Adler, becomes involved in the strange case of the "opera ghost." There are many problems with this novel. Watson's presence is sorely missed and efforts to replace his role with characters from the opera are unsuccessful. Irene Adler's inclusion is an uneccessary distraction and is used soley to comment on Holmes' sexual repression. The case itself is so familiar to the reader that only the inclusion of Holmes changes the basic story, thus there are no surprises.(who doesn't know the basics of Laroux's Phantom?) This was a very disappointing sequel to Meyer's other Holmes' novels and wasn't owrth the wait.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lynnette Richards (randylyn@earthlink.net) on December 28, 1997
Format: Paperback
"The Canary Trainer" is another "rediscovered" Sherlock Holmes manuscript, written this time in the voice of Holmes himself.
It was very easy to imagine that Sherlock Holmes had actually written this "memoir".
The story (which takes it's place in the chronology right after Meyer's " The Seven Per Cent Solution") begins when Sherlock Holmes is hired as a violinist with the Opera company orchestra.
He learns of the strange events surrounding the "Ghost", and, allowing himself to be perceived as a Surete agent 'undercover', begins to investigate the 'accidents' which have been taking place in the Opera house.
Unexpectedly,his cover is blown by the indomitable Irene Adler, who is engaged to perform with the Paris Opera Company, and who blackmails him into protecting her young friend, the lovely Christine Daae.
Irene joins him in his investigation.
Anyone familiar with the orginal story of the Phantom of the Opera, (or who has seen Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical of the same name) will enjoy this book, with it's familiar characters, and what seems to be an insider's view of the mysterious events.
I have read this book more than three times, and am buying another copy to replace one that has gotten ragged from being read too many times.
For me, there can be no higher praise than saying that a book is not only worth reading, but reading again.
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