A rthur Conan Doyle was once asked to name his ten favorites from among the 54 short stories he wrote about Sherlock Holmes. Number eight for him was The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot, which has long been one of my favorites, too.
Doyle set that story not in London but in windswept, spooky Cornwall; and it begins with Holmes asking Dr. Watson to “tell them about the Cornish Horror – strangest case I have handled.” The story is, indeed, strange: one of the rare instances when Holmes confronts a mystery with supernatural overtones. Even Watson believes, at first, that a woman “died of fright,” and that her brothers were “driven mad by fear.”
Before Western contact, the Hawaiians called upon priests, called kahuna, for religious, oracular and medical skills. But some kahuna were said to be able to kill a man by praying for him to die. That struck a chord with me, as a mystery writer, and I conceived the idea of having Holmes and Watson come to Hawaii in 1890, stay at the hotel near the summit of Kilauea volcano, and confront the suspicion that victims had been “prayed to death.”
Sherlock Holmes & The Volcano Horror is my adaptation of The Devil’s Foot. After three weeks of sold-out stage performances, it was video recorded, and is now available on DVD, in a sturdy vinyl case, which also includes the playbill.
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