John Lawrence was well known before he ever ventured into the Sherlockian sandbox. With a PhD in history, he worked for nearly forty years as a top staff person in the US House of Representatives, with his final eight years there as the Chief of Staff for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. When he turned his attention to Sherlock Holmes, he hit the ground running with a reputation for excellence, and he hasn’t looked back.
The original (and pitifully few) five-dozen Canonical adventures ranged from small affairs to those with international implications, but with so few stories, only so much of Holmes’s life and the events of the world around him could be shared. Fortunately, extra-Canonical tales do incredible work filling in the spaces between the original narratives – and John Lawrence’s stories do an especially good job. Each of these tales tells what really happened in a number of historical events – and the reader will race from surprise to surprise. I can only imagine what other secrets Watson’s Tin Dispatch Box will reveal by way of Mr. Lawrence.
A London solicitor in 2018 reveals some secret archives that Dr Watson has entrusted to them over a century earlier. Tales dated 1925 are finally brought to light, revealing some secrets that many wanted to keep hidden.
Holmes and Watson embark on numerous adventures that bring them to the infamous surgeon Frederick Treves whom rescued and treated the ‘Elephant Man’, and surgeon to the king; a young woman fallen on a horse track; a mysterious prince; a kidnapping and the IRA; an assassination of a President; and a conspiracy that could de-stabilize a nation.
One of my favourite aspects to all these Sherlock Holmes’ novels is the plentiful amount of history that occurred around the time of Holmes. Creating a realistic portrayal of the times, and the amount of violence and dissension that brewed. All in the midst of this is Holmes and Watson doing what they do best – solving unusual cases.
Throughout the story, Holmes and Watson are brought in to assist Dr Treves, and deal with scrupulous doctors. A murder in a hotel room leads Holmes and Watson to the consequences of an historical atrocity. We continue from adventure to adventure, from a supposed suicidal woman on a horse track that points Watson and Holmes to the suffragists, and their brutal fight for equality. To the various suspicious deaths of multiple American presidents, drawing Sherlock and Watson into a range of scandals in which had to be kept secret due to the gravity of its situation.
Although no one can exactly portray Holmes like Sir Arthur Doyle, this author does a pretty good job of implementing the unique mannerisms of Holmes and Watson, and bringing in some influential historical characters.
It may appear slow at times, with a lot of dialogue going in to set-up the scene, instead of getting to the nitty gritty; however, there is pay-off. Clues are scattered throughout, and when the big reveal happens, you get that “ahhh”, moment.
Sherlock Holmes is perhaps the perfect example of reading a person’s body language and little intricacies to uncover the truth, and this book is no exception with detailing Holmes’ reasoning, and the thought processes behind the greatest detective. Age does not slow these two down!
For those that enjoy historical mysteries, and Sherlock Holmes novels will enjoy this read.
The Undiscovered Archives of Sherlock Holmes is available from this site with a share going to our good causes, and also available from:
Although the illustrious career of Sherlock Holmes has been documented in innumerable stories over the decades, some accounts have remained classified due to their extremely sensitive nature … until now. Cases involving major historical figures and topics –Winston Churchill’s request to investigate the emerging Nazi Party, the emergency surgery on the British monarch, the apparent suicide of a leading suffragist and the strange death of an American president – have been locked away, sometimes with explicit instructions that they be kept from public view well into the future.
Now, these cases are available to readers in the collection The Undiscovered Archives of Sherlock Holmes. Each of these seven stories is linked to a major historical figure or event. The actual nature of the case had often been misunderstood for a century and more because of the need to respect the privacy of those involved and, in some cases, to avoid potentially embarrassing disclosures and diplomatic controversies.