From Robert Downey Jr.’s period, pulp-action hero to Benedict Cumberbatch’s autism-spectrum, modern genius to Hugh Laurie’s narcissistic Dr. House to Vincent D’Onofrio’s troubled Detective Robert Goren, we’ve seen nearly every conceivable iteration of the Great Detective. What may surprise you, however, is that the first serious, novel-length Holmes pastiche would also later start the killer bee genre of horror films.
In 1941, Gerald Heard published A Taste For Honey under the name H. F. Heard. This short novel introduces us to Sidney Silchester, a resident of a quiet, English village and a reclusive bachelor with a particular fondness for honey. Silchester regularly purchases his sweet treat from the squabbling Heregroves. When Mrs. Heregrove is stung to death and her husband is ordered to destroy his hives, Silchester eyes his dwindling supply with concern, unsure of where he can obtain more. Shortly after, while walking around the village one day, he chances upon a small notice poking through a hedge:
“The Proprietor has at present a certain amount of surplus honey of which he would be willing to dispose.”
Silchester thinks it’s his lucky day. Happily, he continues down the lane and meets with a man who calls himself Mr. Mycroft. His excitement is short-lived however when the old beekeeper explains that Mrs. Heregrove’s death was murder and not an accident. Mr. Heregrove, he explains, has trained his bees to kill!