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

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.

Preorder Available* for Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

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.

by Susanne M. Dutton from Propertius Press

*Available to Pre-order at this link:


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

MORE: Victorians Mess With 21C Expectations

Punch Magazine, London, January 1895: caption below

Child seen AND heard from makes a point:

Mamma: “Today’s our wedding anniversary, Tommy. You should stand up and drink our healths.”

Tommy, rising to the occasion: “Certainly. Father–Mother–and (pointing to himself)–the result!”

Farewell Jane Austen

Punch Magazine, London, 1895 caption below:

A book review under discussion by the author (in hat and veil) and her publisher:

“We think Lips That Have Gone Astray the foulest novel that ever yet defiled the English tongue; and that in absolute filth its Author can give any modern French writer six and beat him hollow!” The Parthenon Press

Author points to review, which has been quoted in publisher’s advertisement for the novel:“And pray, Mr. Shardson, what do you mean by inserting this hideous notice?

Publisher: “You must remember that we have paid you a large price for your book–and brought it out at great expense–and we naturally wish to sell it!”

An Englishman’s home is his castle…..

Punch Magazine 1895 “The Compensating Circumstances” caption below:

Sympathetic Visitor: Poor dear Mr. Smith, how he must suffer with all that sneezing and coughing.”

Mrs. Smith: He does, indeed; but you can’t think how it amuses the baby!”

Coming This Spring from Propertius Press* and Susanne Dutton

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

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

Victorians Mess with 21C Expectations

Punch Magazine‘s 1905 intuitive fantasy includes earbuds

Caption: “Dance when and where you like. Choose your own time and tune.” (Note EARBUDS on dancers’ heads and “boom boxes” conveniently strapped to backs in October 1905 Punch Magazine.) In the same year, tiny chalk dancers lead to violence and murder when Hilton Cubitt asks Holmes to decipher their meaning in The Adventure of the Dancing Men.

As The Naval Treaty, concerning Watson’s friend, Tadpole Phelps and his fiancée, is published in 1893, this poem pokes fun at wedding customs in The Star Newspaper of Guernsey, an UK island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. The poem was anonymous, but also front page.

When a man and maiden marry, hearts of lead their friends all carry.

Custom as they know demands, costly presents at their hands;

Ostentation, too, coerces, so they empty out their purses–

Fearful lest their names be missed from that always published list.

But in private, in a passion they denounce the sordid fashion

Crying in most bitter strain, “Only fancy, fleeced again.”

Bah, ’tis an event to dread, when a man and maiden wed.

Punch Magazine 1905

In Punch Magazine 1905, a man discovers that both his wife and mother-in-law have acquired bicycles (including all the gear) and are ready to accompany him on his ride. He is not overcome with “unmixed delight,” as Oscar Wilde would put it. In the Adventure of the Priory School, Holmes reveals that he has made a study of 42 types of bicycle treads. His knowledge of Dunlop and Palmer tires provides clues.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable coming soon from Propertius Press* and Susanne Dutton

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

Holmes @ Le Dieppe Clinique – Excerpt from his Admittance Interview*….. August 1920

Photo by Chelle Bertand

21 August 1920

Patient: Holmes, Sherlock

Age: 66…….Birth Date: 6 January 1854……….Citizenship: UK

Address:  Bolt Cottage, near Beachy Head, Eastbourne, England         

Height: 190.5 cm………..Weight: 72 kg………..BP: K 100/60

Marital Status:  never married      Occupation: consulting detective, retired

Presenting Issue(s):  underweight/malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies. Self-reported: inability to concentrate, bad dreams, insomnia, “Peace of mind at a new low.”

Visitors:  None expected.

Comment:  M. Holmes is admitted on his own authority. He transferred cocaine in his possession, and associated paraphernalia, to this clinic. He arrives with a large number of trunks. I approved all to be taken to his room, contingent on inspection. Contents included constituents of patient’s favoured diet—tins of tea, crackers, honey of a peculiar red colour, assorted packs of cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, pipes, at least two hundred books. Also, violin in case, music stand, sheet music. A small ormolu clock, walking stick. One trunk clothing.

+Nurse La Fon says M. Holmes has been shown to his room, but requests immediate transfer to a more secluded area or reallocation of patients in adjacent rooms due to “incessant raucous activity” therein. She sees no reason why the clinic should not move M. Holmes to a more private location. I concur.

Pierre Joubert, Director

*Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne Dutton, soon 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