Monday, 19 March 2012

My Dearest Holmes by Rohase Piercy

"... The accounts of these cases are too bound up with events in my personal life which, although they may provide a plausible commentary to much of my dealings with Mr Sherlock Holmes, can never be made public while he or I remain alive ..."

Although Dr Watson is known for recording some sixty of his adventures with the celebrated Sherlock Holmes, he also wrote other reminiscences of their long friendship which were never intended for publication during their lifetimes. Rescued from oblivion by Rohase Piercy, here are two previously unknown stories about the great detective and his companion, throwing a fresh light upon their famous partnership, and helping to explain much which has puzzled their devotees.

Together, Holmes and Watson face disturbing revelations as they investigate the case of the Queen Bee; and we finally learn what actually happened at the Reichenbach Falls and the real reasons which lay behind Holmes' faked death and his subsequent return.

This is pretty much Harlequin Romance meets Sherlock Holmes, recorded in Doctor Watson's voice as so many of the original cases were. The book is divided into two halves. The first, a mystery worthy of Conan Doyle himself, in my opinion, but interwoven with an insight into the relationship, or lack thereof, between Holmes and Watson, and set shortly before the events of The Sign of the Four, which, devoted readers will know, is the case in which Watson meets the woman he will marry. The second half is set during and after the events of The Final Problem and detail the emotions and actions of Watson, Holmes, and his distressingly cold and calculating older brother, Mycroft, as Holmes 'dies' and is resurrected.

It's not a work of great literature. It's a story of love and heartbreak and the horrors of having to hide your true nature for fear of a legal system which criminalises love if it fails to occur between a man and a woman.

The first half is a well written mystery involving a blackmailer, known as the Queen Bee. Holmes' client in this mystery is an interesting character to whom there is more than meets the eye. Ostensibly the case involves the sudden disappearance of this woman's 'intimate companion' but it turns out to be much more complicated than that. Watson finds in the client a friend in who he can confide and who will remain present, albeit in name rather than in physical presence, throughout both halves of the book. This allows him to talk freely of his feelings and the complex relationship that exists between him and Holmes naturally and without the exposition feeling forced.

By the time the case is over it is clear to Watson that his hopes for his relationship with Holmes cannot be realised and that, in order to safeguard both their reputations, marriage to a likeminded woman and the establishment of his own household and medical practice is the only way to ensure their safety from gossip.

The second half of the story is much more emotional, as Watson talks of the events which led to his dear friend's death and the effect that it had upon him. The reader will know that Holmes is in fact still alive, but it isn't until after Mary's death that the truth is revealed to Watson, albeit in a different manner than the one recounted in The Empty House, which is, he explains, a convenient fiction used to hide the true events and allow him to recount Holmes' return to Baker Street.

The ending is a little melancholy since the two of them are clearly still in danger if anyone were to discover their true feelings for one another, but it is as happy as the period could allow and a satisfying conclusion to the romantic journey on which we have accompanied Watson.

The characters are very well done and keep closely to the original canon while gaining a new layer of feeling and emotion. Mary Watson is fleshed out a lot from the outline we see in the books and becomes an interesting character whose story I would like to read. And then the original characters are introduced seamlessly and don't dominate the story but fill their own necessary niches.

All in all a very satisfying, if brief, read.

VERDICT 4 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment