Wednesday, August 3, 2016
More Stories from Beyond Watson
Political conventions, doctor appointments, and working on query letters have delayed my continued reviews of Beyond Watson stories, but now I'm back to share four more tales in this collection with you.
Perhaps what I'm enjoying most about the stories is how different they are from one another. They all capture the "Victorian" tone of storytelling, but each author has a distinct voice. A second factor is the contrast between a short story and a novel. For quite a few years, I've been mainly reading novels. I had forgotten how pleasurable it is to dip into something you can finish in one sitting, compared to the commitment a novel takes and the vexation you feel when you have to put it down because of unfinished tasks hovering in the wings.
So: to the four stories I'm highlighting today:
Don Everett Smith, Jr.'s "The Curse of Cairgannham" weaves back and forth in time and location. It's narrated during "the second year of the Second World War." An 85-year old retired American newsman, Larkin Cobb, looks back on the time he was sent by his editor in New Jersey to interview Sherlock Holmes in England. Cobb ended up assisting Holmes to catch a mysterious figure terrorizing the farming community of Cairgannham. For reasons I can't tell you, Cobb is inspired by this memory as WWII rages on.
Luke Benjamin Kuhns's "The Tiger's Master" is narrated by a minister's wife, Violet Thane, who is none other than Violet Hunter, the governess Holmes rescued in Doyle's "The Copper Beeches." (It's always fun to meet a character in one story who is a character in another story.) As the minister's wife, Violet has won the confidence of wives in the parish. Thus, Daisy Jones confides in her that thugs assaulted Mr. Jones, leaving him for dead—this some days after he discovered a stranger their back garden. Remembering the way Holmes approached her dilemma when she was a governess, Violet soon discovers nefarious plans afoot and helps Holmes unravel a case full of surprises.
Kieran Lyne's "The Adventure of the White Cedar Hotel" is narrated by Percival Tremayne, a loyal if perplexed employee who functions as butler and jack of all trades for the mysterious hotel owner, William Walberswick. Walberswick has created a sense of privilege to stay at the White Cedar, despite his truly odd rules—one of which is that hotel guests must enter and exit from the back entrance. Recently a new arrival, Monsieur Todd, has started making up his own rules, offending other guests. He seems to have Mr. Walberswick at some disadvantage, which is why Tremayne asks Holmes to investigate. And quite an interesting game is "afoot" here.
And then there is Derrick Belanger's delightful story, "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Sherlock Holmes." Bert Provencher, a mailman, stops by his favorite speakeasy, and notices again a father drowning his sorrows in beer, his sad, young daughter (Virginia) at his side. Today Virginia has a copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Hoping to cheer the father and daughter up, Bert launches into the story of how he actually met the real Sherlock Holmes. Amid scoffing remarks of friends in the bar, Bert persists in recounting that fateful day when Sherlock Holmes changed his life forever. A brilliant gem of a tale that left me smiling at the end.
You can get your copy of Beyond Watson at:
Question for you: If you were going to write a story about Sherlock Holmes, who would you choose for a narrator?