The Angel of the Opera
Siciliano's first Sherlock Holmes novel takes the famed detective to Paris for an encounter with the Phantom of the Opera. The plot closely follows Gaston Leroux's original novel rather than the Webster musical version. The novel was published in 1994 by the well known mystery editor and bookstore owner, Otto Penzler. The book came out in hardcover and was well reviewed. Some samples from the reviews are below. The novel was re-printed in 2011 as part of the Titan Books FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES series which included many well known and liked Holmes "pastiches." The book became the first in Siciliano's series of Holmes novels published by Titan.
While the novel was well reviewed on Amazon when it first appeared in the Nineties, some more recent reviewers simply cannot forgive Siciliano for dispensing with Watson and introducing his own narrator, Holmes's cousin, Henry Vernier. However, this was basically done for the same reason the Romulans came back in time and killed Kirk's father in the first of the new Star Trek movies! Its creators did not want to be slavishly bound by every minute detail of the original series. Siciliano felt the same way. While being respectful of the character and also following Victorian sensibilities, he wanted to be able to put his own stamp on Holmes. (However, he has certainly not committed the equivalent of blowing up the entire planet Vulcan!) Whether he succeeded or not is up to each reader, but it is difficult to judge fairly if one begins with the idea that dropping Watson is unforgivable heresy.
From the reviews:
When a beloved fictional character is given new life, it is a treat; when two fictional creations are successfully combined, it is a rare pleasure. In this lively yet respectful pastiche, the Phantom created by Gaston Leroux comes up against Arthur Conan Doyle's remarkable detective, who has been engaged by the managers of the Paris Opera to thwart the Phantom's blackmail scheme. Siciliano has invented several memorable supporting characters, including a beautiful but nearly blind pianist and a Watson substitute whose patience with Holmes eccentricities is only slightly greater than that of the good doctor. The story itself takes the elements of Leroux's romantic novel and preserves characters, plot, and setting, making the most of the many cellars and mysterious passages under the Opera itself. The tone is Holmesian to the last detail, with the reader swept along to a satisfying ending.
Library Journal, June 1, 1994.
Although Holmes does little but interact with the other characaters, through him and Vernier, the author re-examines the relationship of goodness and beauty. Siciliano's tale, while not original, is wonderfully atmospheric and moves briskly.
Publishers Weekly, May 16, 1994.
Here is the cover from the original hardback Otto Penzler Books edition in 1994.