Saturday, March 5, 2016
You Buy Bones, A New Book of Sherlock Stories
My apologies for not posting earlier yesterday -- medical appointments interfered, and I'll share more about that in a later post. But I have been enjoying reading a series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, and this latest really absorbed my interest:
Bones are at the crux of Marcia's main novella in this story collection. The title comes from a 17th-century English proverb: “You buy land, you buy stones; you buy meat, you buy bones.” Throughout, the stories give us Scotland Yard’s view of Holmes as being brilliant, but a bit crazy, while Dr. Watson wins the Yard’s sympathy and growing respect. Watson, in fact, is the hero of the title novella:
Watson has come across disturbing information at a medical convention—the skeleton of a young female exhibited by someone he knew in the past. Watson suspects the skeleton is that of someone related to Inspector Lestrade’s sidekick, Bradstreet. Since the suspect is in the medical profession and a fellow Scotsman, Watson feels personal responsibility to track him down. Because it may be a difficult case to prosecute, he leaves Holmes out of it to avoid jeopardizing the consulting detective’s career.
As the case progresses, body thieves, grave robbers, and ancient folklore about selkies (seal people) come into play, along with genetic traits inherited in certain North Sea cultures. To say more than that would involve spoilers.
What I particularly enjoyed in this collection of stories was the new take on Watson and Holmes, as well as the interplay between Lestrade and Gregson. The latter two show up in the cannon as inspectors working with Sherlock Holmes, but here we see their personal rivalry and individual personalities, with Lestrade the more complex and sympathetic lawman who shares Watson’s temperament and approach to things.
Watson himself becomes more three dimensional than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s returning war soldier. The cannon wavers between whether Watson’s leg or shoulder has been wounded. Given realities of modern warfare (of the 20th century), Wilson shows Watson suffering from recurring pain in both his leg and shoulder, as well as giving him a certain cynicism, despite his sturdiness of character. Watson becomes a modest hero one can root for without ever detracting from the brilliance of his roommate at 221b Baker Street. Additionally, Wilson gives a reader the texture of London’s backstreets, as well as that of late 19th century Edinburgh.
This fine story collection is a good addition for any collector of Sherlock Holmes fiction and a good find for anyone who enjoys a complex mystery.
You can buy this book at:
and all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide
Do you have a favorite Holmes and Watson mystery to share here? Or even any mystery? I'm always on the lookout for recommendations.