The Adventure of the Six Silver Spiders

Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October, 1950

The Memoirs of Solar Pons

Date - October, 1930

The Case

Pons receives a brochure from Baron Elouard de Baseuil for a sale of extremely rare occult literature.  The Baron and five others were invited to the sale, which was in fact a hoax. The Baron wants Pons to find out the purpose of the ruse. Pons quickly determines that all six collectors own one of the existing copies of the silver spider books made by the forger Yeovil. He sets out to uncover the mysterious scheme under way.

Quotes

Ø       Pons: There is a sense of adventurous expectancy about a London fog. One can expect anything to come out of it.

Ø       Parker: I cannot pretend to understand collectors. They pay fabulous sums for comparative trifles.

Comments

Ø      The Necronomicon is mentioned prominently in this case. It is a book created by H.P. Lovecraft and important in the Cthulhu mythos. Usually translated as meaning ‘Concerning the dead’ or ‘An image of the laws of the dead,’ its contents are frightening, including information on summoning the Old Ones, terrible, ancient deities sleeping under the sea.

Derleth inherited Lovecraft’s mantle upon the latter’s death (though the validity of this control remains a controversial topic). Derleth not only kept Lovecraft’s work in print, but he also wrote Cthulhu pastiches and he was arguably the foremost Cthulhu authority of his time.

Pons himself must have discussed this book in his 1931 monograph, An Examination of the Cthulhu Cult and Others.

Ø      This is another case in which Pons allows the culprit to go free. Of course, no one is harmed and the case can be considered an unqualified success, so perhaps the “no harm, no foul” principle applies. But inviting Alistair White to dinner on top of allowing him to go free seems a bit generous. But perhaps Pons, recognizing that White’s talents could be of use to him in future investigations, chose to give him an opportunity that could benefit both men.

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