The Crimes of Dr. Watson: An Interactive Mystery

Several years ago, Quirk Books put out three Interactive Mysteries, handsome, retro-themed hardcovers that told new stories using familiar characters. The gimmick is that various documents germane to the story are included in facsimile form. Imagine Griffin and Sabine, with its letters in envelopes, with more emphasis on murder.

The Crimes of Dr. Watson is credited to John H. Watson, MD, but the writer is Duane Swierczynski (who has also written Judge Dredd, Birds of Prey, and Godzilla comics, among many others). It’s framed as a modern-day discovery of a previously unknown manuscript, set during the time when Sherlock Holmes was presumed dead in the Reichenbach Falls. It’s a lengthy letter, sent by Watson during his time in prison (!) held on charges of arson and murder, asking for help from a Colonel Harry Kelsh Resmo of Philadelphia in finding evidence to free him.

A reprint of “The Final Problem”, the story where Sherlock perishes, is included, as is a theater ticket, a faux period newspaper, an antique postcard, a telegram, and even a puzzle. The solution to the mystery is contained in a sealed section at the back of the book. I don’t think it’s deducible, myself, but maybe that’s because I wasn’t very good at the game. (I expected something more complex, when it turns out to be very blunt.) It was fun opening each new envelope and seeing what new artifact would be revealed, even if some of them were only minimally connected to the story.

Also written by Swierczynski is the interactive mystery Batman: Murder at Wayne Manor, with illustrations by David Lapham. I unfortunately haven’t seen a copy of that one, since I’m told it’s going out of print (although used copies are widely available).

Last in the series is Dracula’s Heir, told in correspondence between John Seward and Abraham Van Helsing as written by Sam Stall. Seward suspects, a decade after the events of the original novel, that another vampire is roaming about, and his friends Jonathan and Mina Harker might be involved. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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