The Watson Chronicles
I tried The True Adventures of Sherlock Holmes because of a recommendation from someone in my Sherlockian group. I enjoyed it so much I went wandering through the rest of the books publisher Gasogene Books has put out and decided to try a more straightforward story with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
The Watson Chronicles by Anne Margaret Lewis, subtitled “A Sherlock Holmes Novel in Stories”, was another great read. Six stories tell of how John Watson, a fifty-year-old in 1902, sets up a new practice and meets and falls in love with the twenty-something Miss Lucy Modjeska, a Polish opera singer. He’s spurred by Sherlock’s desire to soon retire, and for those interested primarily in the friendship between the two men, this may not be the right book for you, since they only occasionally talk to each other about anything substantial or approaching emotion. Those discussions mostly consist of an early conversation about Watson’s feelings for Lucy, particularly given the age difference, and a later chapter, which brings major changes to their relationship.
This is very much Watson’s book. Holmes is still very much involved in these stories, though, as is Mycroft (to a degree that I didn’t expect but really liked). Lucy is caring and charming and lovely and makes everyone’s life better. Sometimes she seems a bit too good to be true, but I suppose, when inserting someone into the lives of these mythic figures, they have to have a lot to recommend them. Again, those who find Mary Sue-like characters annoying should probably read something else.
What the book does offer is a strong focus on Watson’s perspective and feelings and a welcome sense of the atmosphere of the times. I also appreciated the occasional illustrations by Rikki Niehaus, which captured the characters well. (I do wish we’d seen Watson in his kilt at the fancy dress ball, though.)
The first story and case features Watson and Holmes investigating the murder of someone close to Lucy. Following chapters cover irregularities with the landlord, a Christmas tale about Mycroft, a story where Mycroft and Lucy investigate a case, one where Watson and Holmes negotiate their changing lives, and the final, where major changes come to the characters.
I was so caught up in the stories that I read the whole thing, almost 300 pages, in just a few hours. I wanted to see what happened next, particularly as the stories moved away from casework into the lives and feelings of the familiar cast. The author had different priorities and views of the famous Holmes and Watson than I do, but I enjoyed her take on them a great deal nevertheless.
You can order The Watson Chronicles from the publisher’s website.