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The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols: Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, M.D. is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel by Nicholas Meyer. The novel is Meyer's fourth Sherlock Holmes novel. In it, Holmes and Watson must race to unravel the antisemitic conspiracy behind the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.


Part 1: England[]

In January 1905, Watson takes Holmes to dinner to celebrate the detective's fiftieth birthday, and Holmes laments the recent dearth of interesting crime. Mycroft arrives unexpectedly, and stays just long enough ask Holmes to meet him the following day at the Diogenes Club. There, he presents Holmes with a sheaf of documents in French, which he asks him to examine. Holmes opens the packet on the cab back home, which contains a copy of a work called The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. The packet contains one original sheet, on which Holmes notices dried blood and a woman's hair.

At Baker Street, Holmes works to translate the document, and Mycroft soon arrives. Though Mycroft refuses to tell him where the documents were found, Holmes deduces they were recovered from the corpse of a woman reported found dead in the Thames two days ago. Mycroft admits he is correct, and that the woman, named Manya Lippman, was a government agent. The document purports to contain a secret plan for Jewish world domination, but Holmes tells Mycroft that he believes it is fraudulent; after all, if Lippman was killed for the documents, why would they be left on her person? However, Mycroft informs him that for six years a global congress of Jews has been held in Switzerland; calling themselves "Zionists", their stated intention is to create a Jewish homeland. Mycroft sent agents to interview its leader, a journalist named Theodor Herzl, but he died suspiciously before the interview could take place. Mycroft asks Holmes to question Dr Chalres Weizmann, a chemist who was present at the Zionist Congress and is currently in England. Watson, meanwhile, offers to ask his sister-in-law, the translator Constance Garnett, to finish translating the tract.

Holmes and Watson make a brief visit to the morgue to view Lippman's corpse. She was killed with a kosher butcher's knife, which Holmes dismisses as an obvious bit of theatrics. Holmes then leaves for Manchester to meet Dr Weizmann, and Watson pays a visit to his sister-in-law. Watson and Constance briefly discuss the unfolding, disastrous war between Russia and Japan. Watson leaves the Protocols with Constance, which seem curiously familiar to her.

Constance meets Watson the next day, and informs him that the Protocols are plagiarized from an old French monarchist polemic. The word "Jew" has been substituted liberally; however, Watson also notices other word changes to no obvious effect. He returns to Baker Street to reunite with Holmes, and is surprised to find Professor Weizmann there. Weizmann informs them that the situation in Russia continues to deteriorate; a mutiny of sailors has taken place in Odessa. Weizmann fears the blame will fall on the Jews, as the government has encouraged anti-Semitism to deflect blame for Russia's backwardness. Weizmann tells them that such realities are the reason Herzl organized the Zionist Congress to create a Jewish homeland, which he insists has the covert support of the British government. Watson shows Holmes and Weizmann Constances' translation of the Protocols, which Weizmann says were originally published in a Russian newspaper. Ergo, the French version was a translation of a Russian original, resulting in the superfluous changes.

Holmes and Watson return to Mycroft, who accepts their report that the document is a forgery. However, he is reluctant to pursue the investigation further, fearful of the political implications for Britain. Holmes asks his brother to send him to Russia as a personal favor, which Mycroft finally concedes on the condition he interview another member of the Zionist group to confirm Weizmann’s information. On the recommendation of Watson’s wife, Juliet, they visit the writer Israel Zangwill. Zangwill professes his respect for Herzl, although the two had separated over differences on Herzl’s insistence on creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Zangwill tells them that Herzl had become fixated on the idea as a result of a pogrom in the Russian town Kishinev two years ago, with hundreds of casualties. Watson insists that something of the sort could never happen in a modern country, but Zangwill counters that it would just require the right spark. Holmes determines they will need to go to Russia.

Holmes, Watson, and Juliet visit the theater, where Mycroft gives them false passports and briefs them on their travel plans. He suggests they before leaving, they speak to the Wallings, an American couple recently returned from a tour of Russia; the wife, Anna Strunsky, is in fact a Russian Jew. Holmes and Watson meet with Mrs Walling and her husband, a Kentuckian named English. The Wallings describe the horrific conditions of Jewish life in Russia, which they compare to the plight of blacks in the United States. Mrs Walling recognizes the text of the Protocols, and tells them was printed in the newspaper Bessarabets in Kishinev. Holmes is impressed, and when Watson boards the train to the continent the following morning, he is surprised to find Mrs Walling in their cabin.

Part 2: Russia[]

Despite his reservations, Watson agrees to take Mrs Walling along as a translator. They take the orient express to Varna, where they transfer to another train to Odessa. Holmes realizes they are being traced by agents of the Okhrana, the Russian secret police, and their rooms are burglarized, though the thieves fail to find the protocols.

They eventually reach Kishinev, where Mrs Walling introduces them to some survivors of the pogrom. They pick up a copy of the Bessarabets, and learn that the publisher is named Pavel Krushenev. At a tavern, the barkeep informs them that Krushenev instigated the recent pogrom by falsely accusing a Jew of ritual murder, and Holmes and Watson determine to confront him despite Mrs Walling's reservations. They break into Krushenev's press shop, and confront him upstairs. Holmes uses a Russian roulette gambit to force Krushenev to sign a confession admitting he forged the Protocols. He insists that he was commissioned to write the tract by Pyotr Ivanovich Rachkovsky, the head of the Okhrana, to justify the Kishinev Pogrom and alarm the Tsar.

Having obtained the confession, the three split up to leave the country as quickly as possible, with Watson and Mrs Walling traveling separately from Holmes. However, Mrs Walling is kidnapped by the Okhrana on the train. Rachkovsky reveals himself, and demands the confession in exchange for Mrs Walling's life. He tacitly admits to killing Lippman and Herzl, and explains that he will use the Protocols to turn the Tsar against his liberal ministers, and to deflect public blame for the disastrous war with Japan onto the Jews.

Rachkovsky tells Holmes and Watson to meet him in Budapest, where he will deliver further instructions. To save Mrs Walling, Holmes agrees to his terms. Arriving in the city, Rachkovsky's agents directs them to Budapest Castle Funicular, where Holmes successfully trades the documents for Mrs Walling. However, after Rachkovsky departs, Holmes reveals that the confession he gave him was merely a copy, and that he still has the original.

All three return to England, and Anna Walling departs for America. They deliver Krushenev's confession to Mycroft, who promises that the Protocols will be exposed as a fraud. However, after Holmes leaves, he tells Watson that he imagines it will make little difference; the Protocols have already spread, and those determined to hate the Jews will disregard any attempts to debunk it. In recognition for their services, Watson and Holmes receive a private decoration from the King, as does Manya Lippman's son.


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The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols is Meyer's first Holmes novel in 26 years, following 1993's The Canary Trainer. In an interview in October 2019, Meyer cited the post-2016 political situation in America as his inspiration for writing the story, particular his concern over the proliferation of "fake news".[1] The majority of the novel's characters are interpretations of actual historical figures.


The novel was endorsed by authors Michael Chabon and Glen David Gold, as well as professional Holmes scholar Leslie S. Klinger. However, it received lukewarm reviews from Kirkus Review and Washington Post critic Michael Dirda.[2][3]