This book should, by all rights, be called The John Watson Connection—but more on that later! Even though neither Watson nor Sherlock Holmes figures in the four stories that comprise this collection, the Sherlockian tradition of solving the impossible is very much alive in it. The stories, two each from Sweden and India—by Anushka Ravishankar, Martin Widmark, Katarina Genar and Bikram Ghosh—are apparently unconnected and set almost a century apart, continuing long after the times of Holmes and Watson. Note the word “apparently”.
Martin Widmark kicks off with a story set in 1919 Stockholm, about a boy still grief-stricken about the death of his mother a year ago. What seems like a dismal Christmas suddenly turns into a high-stakes mystery when Stefan discovers an unmarked Christmas present under his tree. Will it show him why his mother took her own life?
Next, Anushka Ravishankar takes us to a small town in India in 1976, bang in the middle of the Emergency. Varun’s parents have packed him off to live with virtual strangers, with no explanation whatsoever. While playing detective, Varun and his new friend Jyotsna are determined to get some answers about their strange behaviour. And what are these mysterious papers that everyone seems to think Varun has?
We swing forward to 2000 in Katarina Genar’s story. Julia isn’t happy about having to move to a sleepy seaside village from her exciting city life in Stockholm. Then Siri pops into her life and they end up embroiled in a search for an old pocket watch belonging to Sherlock Holmes. If they succeed, they will earn a priceless reward.
Finally, Bikram Ghosh’s story is something of a locked-room mystery. Set in 2014 in a boys’ school in India, a teacher is found grievously injured and a student in a catatonic condition after school hours. Whatever could be going on? And why is the thuggish Vincent Mayo hanging about in the school?
While the stories seem to have nothing to do with each other, a mysterious magnifying glass initialled S.H. plays an instrumental role in providing an unlikely connection across time and places. And always present, albeit behind the scenes, is a descendant of the Watson family….
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- If you’ve ever wondered if Watson really was the bumbling sidekick or bristled at Holmes’ dismissive treatment of him, this book might make you happy. Enough said!
- As a spin-off on the well-known fictional duo of Holmes and Watson, The Sherlock Holmes Connection is a well-executed frame narrative.
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- The roles of Anna, Emily and Martha Watson remain unclear. How do they know where to go and when? Why do they play a completely behind-the-scenes role when clearly they seem to know a lot more?
- Though enjoyable in its current format, the book seems like an idea unfinished, especially this almost-supernatural ability of the Watsons to appear at the right place at the right time. It is mentioned at the start that the magnifying glass has “certain powers” but this statement isn’t followed up either, as one was expecting. Both these things felt a bit like a carrot being dangled and then chucked away out of reach. They could have worked as intriguing fantasy elements to explore (though probably harder to execute with four authors).
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- Anushka Ravishankar’s story about sedition set during the Emergency becomes oddly and accidently relevant for us today.
The John Watson connection!