Six Gems of Advice from Sherlock Holmes, the Hero of My Book

Sketch from Punch Magazine, June 1894

He saved lives and stymied many a cruel plot, but he’s not what’s known as a people person. I draw each of these guidelines from Holmes’ own behavior in Conan Doyle’s original stories. Keep in mind that my hero does the best he can with the gifts he has to make life better for all of us. Who can do more?   

1) Romantic relationships only drain your energy for better things. I mean it. Don’t even pretend to indulge such a thing unless you are disguised and or it’s necessary to solve a crime. If you have to convince yourself of this, you are lost already.  It goes without saying that you can and should love your queen—from a safe distance.

2) Dogs are more likely to be reliable. Rent one if you need one.

3) Never draw easy conclusions. Don’t assume. Check it out. The so-called “obvious truth” or “what people say” is nonsense. You must gather the facts yourself. Until you have assembled those facts you are only gathering data. Leave it at that, unless you want to be as inept as Scotland Yard.

4) Your brain has only so much space. Be on guard against unnecessary information. I refuse to know about the solar system, for instance.  

5) Live alone, unless you can’t afford it. If you must “share rooms,” choose an easy-going person unlike yourself, one who is likely to be useful to you.

6) As an afterthought to #1. If your logical brain goes wonky and insists on a relationship with a soon-to-be-married opera diva from New Jersey, limit yourself to witnessing her wedding–in disguise.  Afterward, you may allow yourself to retain a photograph of the woman. Do not buy, steal, or purchase the photograph.  As the lady had a last maidenly fling (or a dance, anyway) with a king too ashamed of her to marry her, that gentleman has a photo he will let you have if you ask politely.

Available Now from Propertius Press and Amazon at links below~

The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural cottage, Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds him filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

Susanne M. Dutton is a Philadelphian writing fiction and poetry. She’s the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips:  Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling. 

Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head.

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

OR

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1678075310/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_J3EJWBA5ASJJ2KCJCYR3?fbclid=IwAR3cmhWfllK0UaaT4WHbjZGXnBuhTvnyJ74clHMcAu3_d5voz9mGCU2hLYw

Thank you!

Poetry Leaks and Imaginary Friends Stick Around

My friend Gina, back when she was partly imaginary, and me.

 From Reviews and Interviews

 by Blogger and Author

Lisa Haselton

(with a couple expanded answers)

Do you ever read your stories out loud?

Always. I favor sentences that sound good, and sound good next to one another, though mine don’t always measure up. It’s only a goal leaking over from my poetry, or the poetry I enjoy, anyway. Stories are composed, just like music, as are sentences and paragraphs. This has nothing to do with “rose” and “toes.” Also, it’s absolutely the best way to catch mistakes.

Can you tell us about your main character and who inspired him/her?


My main character was invented by Arthur Conan Doyle based on Joseph Bell, a professor at the Edinburgh medical school Conan Doyle attended. Of course, that’s only part of it because hundreds of writers and many actors have contributed to the Holmes mythology. It would be fair to say that my inspiration was a piece of the Holmes story that seems missing to me and that I haven’t seen anywhere else. So I wrote it. I was ambushed by the idea as I walked around a Philly art museum and into a room full of 18th C French art. Although my Holmes is the classic guy, I knew this idea could bring something new to Conan Doyle’s stories, though it’s not mentioned in the official Holmes biography by William Baring-Gold. (Yes, Holmes has an official biography. I suppose Holmes authorized Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street—in so far as a made-up fellow can authorize anything.)

Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

I listen to the sounds on the street, like the garbage truck and the sanitation workers kidding each other. I hear the regional rail go by, squirrels scrambling over the tile roof, wind, and dogs barking.

Have you ever had an imaginary friend?
Not in the sense that I had to leave extra space on the subway bench or save half my sandwich. I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that all of my friends have been imaginary–but only at first and only partly. After all, my best friend is someone I got to know slowly over time. If we are to stay friends I have to let go of some of what I initially imagined about that person. Then the imaginary parts change into the reality and the realities morph into new realities. That’s a good question for a friend. What did you imagine about me when we met?

Do you have any phobias?
For a long time I had just one phobia: very large crowds. I left town when the Pope came to Philly and found myself sitting at a hotel bar in San Diego, watching it on television, thrilled at a distance. The second phobia came about when I was served a spinach salad at a tiny little restaurant near my home. I suffered for hours that night. I go back to the pub, no problem, but I hold all spinach responsible, forever.

Tell us about your latest release.
Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable* is a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but the game is not afoot. WWI has ended. The glory days the 1890’s are gone. No one believes any longer that the world is “getting better in every way, every day.” In response to the rise in cocaine addiction, the Dangerous Drugs Act has made the drug illegal and Holmes aims to quit. He fills out entry papers at a rundown clinic on the coast of Normandy. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, realizing his real goal far exceeds anything any clinic could do for him. His scribbled answer, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” strikes his doctor as more a vow than a goal—and the doctor is right. Very soon the little phrase churns up a far-reaching, desperate, interlocking mystery that changes the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

Link to Propertius Press:

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

 

“Men see through a change of dress long before they see through a lack of it.” Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable” by Susanne Dutton

“… my turn that way is in my veins, and may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister of Vernet, the French artist. Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms.” Sherlock in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter.

French artist, Carle Vernet (1758-1843) Holmes’ ancestor, portrait by Robert Lefevre (1755-1830)

Watson writes:

Joubert spoke eagerly to Holmes. “You have managed a disguise?”

 “Yes. Simple, but effective. I am half naked and barefoot. I have torn away one leg of my trousers entirely and, otherwise, kept my vest. The cinders work well to dirty my hands, arms, legs, and feet. A rag, held in place by a piece of the fishing net, serves as a kind of veil. Do not doubt it! Nakedness is one of the finest of disguises. Men see through a change of dress long before they see through a lack of it.”

I couldn’t help a burst of laughter, but when Joubert glared at me, I nodded my acquiescence. His attention reverted to Holmes.  “I hunch forward,” my colleague explained, “and affect an exaggerated limp, dragging my right leg . . . Moving to the edge of the crowd . . . I follow a man who has lost both legs from the knee down. He pushes himself along in a flat, small-wheeled cart, jeering as heartily as the rest . . . He wears a military jacket—split up the sides and faded, held to his chest with what might be a gentleman’s stocking. Across his thighs is draped a flag of the republic, doubtless torn from its place outside one of the big city houses . . . but I pass easily in his wake, for I am bizarre, but not so remarkable as he. The mob grows, and yet we two seem to be able to move through it, into the center. Everyone fears our filth, our stench—and the disease they presume. . . A boy with a drum joins the crowd. . . Then the same chant.

Susanne Dutton is a Philadelphian writing fiction and poetry. She’s the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips:  Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling. 

Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Susanne grew up in the SF Bay Area, has two grown children, and lives with her husband in an old Philadelphia house, built of the stones dug from the ground where it sits. 

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

Seeing Through Watson’s Wiles: An Excerpt from Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

Sleight of Hand Shadow Play from Punch Magazine, 1893

Watson speaks:

“We were that obvious?”

“I’m afraid so,” Holmes said. “In fact, when I have time, I will publish a monograph on what I will call ‘body language.’ Today’s performance will serve as a prime example. I watched you usher this Frenchman across the cottage—your hesitation, your caution lest you cause him the least pain, was evident. Your care was exactly as you would grant a lifelong patient going through a complicated procedure. You watched his every backward step, lest he trip. I noted the commiserating tilt of your head—and the lines of concern on your brow. Without a single word, you managed to signal your sympathy. To sum up, between the gun and the man you pointed it at, I detected at least a hundred yards worth of high-grade Watsonian scruple.

Available for $4.99 Pre-order till June 1st, at link:

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

Susanne Dutton is a Philadelphian writing fiction and poetry. She’s the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips:  Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling. 

Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Susanne grew up in the SF Bay Area, has two grown children, and lives with her husband in an old Philadelphia house, built of the stones dug from the ground where it sits. 

Rejection Callous, etc.

Here I am, snowplowing this past February, meditating on the next story.

Interview with Susanne M. Dutton, author of Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable with # via:
“Characters” from Andi Candrel’s Cooks, Crafts and Characters, excerpt


Do you ever wish you were someone else?
I often wish for more of some qualities and less of others, although I’ve never had a particular person in mind. Why can’t I be more patient? I want to wait in line without fuming. Why can’t I perform patient work, like hemming my jeans, without making a mess of it? More self-control is high on my wanna-be list, too. I want to eat half the giant butter pretzel, get in the 10K steps and write as many words as Charles Dickens did in a day. His daily word count was so high I have actually repressed it. On the other hand, he had some qualities I can do without. I read that he felt a need to rearrange the furniture in his hotel rooms, for instance. No thank you to actually being another person.


What part of the writing process do you dread?
Dread is a strong word. Sometimes I just lose whatever it takes to get me to my desk. A friend once gave me a dollhouse picture frame, smaller than a postage stamp, with a tiny hanging chain. She said, “Just sit down and fill up the frame.” It hangs on my desktop’s screen right now and it works. I manage enough words to fill up that inch square space and before I even think about it, I’ve got a page or two. Another dread? Rejections are hard, but eventually I received so many I earned a callous against them.


Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
My attention gets diverted, that’s for sure, but that’s not the same as writer’s block. If I don’t have a deadline, I let the diversion happen. The diversion might be just what the story needs.


Tell us about your latest release.
The book is a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but the game is not afoot, not yet. WWI has ended. The glory days the 1890’s are gone. No one believes any longer that the world is “getting better in every way, every day.” In response to the rise in cocaine addiction, the Dangerous Drugs Act has made the drug illegal and Holmes aims to quit. He fills out entry papers at a rundown clinic on the coast of Normandy. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, realizing his real goal far exceeds anything any clinic could do for him. His scribbled answer, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” strikes his doctor as more a vow than a goal—and the doctor is right. Very soon the little phrase churns up a far-reaching, desperate, interlocking mystery that changes the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

Release June 1, 2021: Preorder link (ebook $4.99 until release) for Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable at Propertius Press:

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

The Most Unique and Outrageous Case You Never Heard About

August 1920 finds Sherlock Holmes filling out entry papers at Le Dieppe Clinique on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Though his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert, has long admired Holmes, the detective proves an irascible patient. He correctly diagnoses his doctor’s own ailments and denies his professional assumptions. He demands quieter rooms, claims that clinic meals cramp him and rejects group therapy outright. No wonder the patient count dwindles, Holmes complains. His doctor is satisfied, however. Signs are good. It’s all part of a necessary adjustment. Holmes walks in the countryside—albeit after dark—and a fierce game of singles tennis seems to break the awful tedium that gnaws at him. Though he jokes that he can cheat the new Word Association test, he tries it, intrigued by its potential for criminal investigation. Hypnosis fascinates Holmes as well, until in one trance he regresses beyond vivid boyhood memories of his father’s French art collection to an ancestor’s disturbing experience in the French Revolution. Joubert adamantly counsels that these images are not history, only unique creations of the psyche. Perhaps they can put this exploration off until later? Holmes shakes his head, “Not today, or any day.”  

Five weeks into his treatment, the detective’s eyesight weakens. His weight drops. A wheeled chair and an orderly prove necessary. Sleep eludes him, replaced by ominous hallucinations. Then his personal belongings go missing and reappear, strangely altered. Two of these tricks strike Holmes as childish. The last is different, though not the usual threat of violence. This is deeply personal, darker and even more troubling. Has he such an enemy in Dieppe?

So it is that Watson tears into another telegram from the detective, the first in years, and so it is that, convenient or not, he anxiously entrains at Victoria Station on his way to Holmes.

Susanne Dutton is a Philadelphian writing fiction and poetry. She’s the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips:  Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling. 

Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Susanne grew up in the SF Bay Area, has two grown children, and lives with her husband in an old Philadelphia house, built of the stones dug from the ground where it sits. 

Release June 1, 2021: Preorder link for Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable at Propertius Press:

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

The Largest Mourning Warehouse in Europe

“Then, in the winter of 1867-68, the boy’s health worsened. He was growing fast, and thin … He was taken to London to see an eminent specialist.” Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, Sir William S. Baring-Gould, Holmes’ biographer.

Advertisement London Illustrated News:

FAMILY MOURNING,made up and trimmed in the most correct and approved Taste, may be obtained at the most reasonable Prices, at Peter Robinson’s. Goods are sent free of charge, for selection, to all parts of England (with dressmaker, if desired) upon receipt of letter, order or telegram; and Patterns are sent with Book of Ilustrations, to all parts of the world.The Court and General Mourning Warehouse,256-262, Regent Street, London; The Largest Mourning Warehouse in Europe.

PETER ROBINSON’S.

Perhaps if 13 year old Sherlock had not survived, the Holmes family, living in Yorkshire, would have turned to Peter Robinson’s Court and General Mourning Warehouse. Note that “goods” may be sent along with a dressmaker, if desired, to any part of England. Talk about convenience. Then again, given that every member of the family and some of the extended family would be wearing mourning for some time to come, there was a lot of work, payment and often room and board, for the dressmaker.

Holmes’ parents and brothers, Sherrinford and Mycroft, would have dressed in mourning for six months to a year. Aunts and uncles, 3 to 6 months. Cousins and aunts related by marriage, 6 weeks to 3 months. Such mourning practice was not something confined to the upperclass, but a mainstay of middle class respectability.

Neither was it confined to the English. It’s famously true that Queen Victoria, whose husband, Prince Albert, died when she was 41 in 1861, wore mourning until 1901 when she herself died. It’s also true that Mary Todd Lincoln, made a widow by President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, wore mourning for seventeen years until her death in 1882.

1″ X 1/2″ Victorian mourning brooch, centered on a minute woven design of loved one’s hair.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne M. Dutton

The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural home, Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds him filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both. 

Preorder Link: https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

Watson: Dunderheaded Sidekick?

Photo by Thomas Debray

The Holmes/Watson dynamic…

As a writer, I often think of  Holmes and Watson together as a dual protagonist. Say Arthur Conan Doyle had created a more Watsonish Holmes detective, an amalgam of the two characters. We’d have far less fun, energetic stories with a far less intriguing but more completely human hero. Holmes’ genius insists on objective truth over personal expectation, historical precedent, comfort or sentiment. We meet his brother Mycroft, but he is otherwise a monolithically lone character, excepting the vague French ancestors. The “dull routines” of human existence are no match for the “exultation” Holmes “craves” in A Scandal in Bohemia. Empathetic, tolerant Watson hopes to please. He falls like a brick for the innocent, generous and deeply good Mary Morstan because he is so, himself. He calls Holmes “the best and wisest man,” but Sherlock plays with the good guy bounds for the sake of his work, usually as a trickster. As he admits, he could have been a successful criminal or actor. His many sly disguises are crucial to his strategies. Watson grieves, but he must continue to believe for years that Holmes is dashed to death at the Reichenbach Falls. In “The Dying Detective,” Holmes denies Watson’s medical competence to his face, for the sake of the case. A downright mean Holmes encourages Milverson’s housemaid to develop a crush on him, even going so far as asking her to marry him– in order to get into the villainous blackmailer’s home. Watson is no genius, but he fits into the places that Holmes doesn’t take up–and he fills them out beautifully.

Albert Einstein said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Though Watson defaults to the stolidly traditional, he can be convinced to “stretch,” as he accompanies Holmes, whereas Holmes is less malleable. Only in music does something else seem to reach him, something bordering on the mystical. Together, Holmes and Watson are a truly dynamic duo, giving the stories something important, a more fully human heroic presence.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne Dutton, at Propertius Press*

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Now that the law declares his cocaine use illegal, he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Holmes’ scribbled response, never before encountered by his long-experienced doctor, soon churns interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of enemies and friends both.

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

A Culture Spoofs Itself 120+ Years Ago

That well-travelled sophisticated class of person:

Client to Architect: “I want it to be nice and baronial, Queen Anne and Elizabethan, and all that; kind of quaint and Nurembergy, you know–regular Old English with French Windows opening to the lawn, and Venetian blinds, and sort of Swiss Balconies, and Loggia. But I’m sure you know what I mean!”

More globe trotting sophisticates:

Punch Magazine 1890

Mr. James: And were you in Rome?

American Lady: I guess not. (Turns to daughter) Say Bella, did we visit Rome?

Daughter: Why certainly, Mama! Don’t your remember? It was in Rome we bought the Lisle-thread stockings!

Legend says that in early 1797 clothier John Hetherington was the first man to wear a silk tophat in London: a review in 1897.

Punch Magazine 1897

On the centenary of the tall hat

A hundred years of hideousness,

Constricted brows, and strain, and stress!

And still, despite humanity’s groan,

The torturing “tall hat” holds its own!

What proof more sure and melancholy

Of the dire depths of mortal folly?

Mad was the hatter who invented the demon “topper,”

and demented the race that, spite of pain and jeers,

Has borne it–for One Hundred Years!

The Latest Thing from Paris

Punch Magazine 1897

Ratcatcher, eyeing their hand muffs: Beg your pardon, Ladies, but would you mind telling me where you get all the rats from? I’ve been out for the last week and can’t come across any at all!

The Gentlemen of the Press

Punch Magazine 1899

Journalism in France vs. Journalism in England

An Invention for Making the Law Less Dry

The Strand Magazine 1893

The Meeker, Gentler Sex

Punch Magazine 1905

He: But I thought you’d forgiven me for that and promised to forget it?

She: But I didn’t promise to forget I’d forgiven.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable* by Susanne M. Dutton, from Propertius Press

The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural cottage, Sherlock Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds Holmes filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

A Case More Suppressed Than “The Giant Rat of Sumatra”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

John Watson scanned the late afternoon telegram, terse as always, originating in Eastbourne and directed to his London surgery.

4 October 1920

The game is afoot. Please take the Brighton Line from Victoria at ten in the morning. Revolver unnecessary. Sherlock Holmes

Surely, Holmes missed their old life together as much as he. Giving the message pride of place on the mantle shelf, he fell in seconds into being not just Doctor Watson, but “Watson, Confederate and Chronicler.” A hurried leave of absence? All too easy to arrange, he thought. As he’d cut back his surgery hours, his patients had transferred their loyalties with unflattering alacrity to his younger partner.

So it happens that, after a number of years, Watson entrains again for Eastbourne and finds himself caught up in the most unique and outrageous Holmes adventure no one will ever hear about.