The Hound of the Baskervilles was one of the first books I loved, and I keep loving everything that’s Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne M. Dutton is a Mystery.
The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural cottage, Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds him filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.
Joubert speaks to Holmes:
Joubert spoke eagerly. “You have managed a disguise?”
“Yes. Simple, but effective. I am half naked and barefoot. I have torn away one leg of my trousers entirely and, otherwise, kept my vest. The cinders work well to dirty my hands, arms, legs, and feet. A rag, held in place by a piece of the fishing net, serves as a kind of veil. Do not doubt it! Nakedness is one of the finest of disguises. Men see through a change of dress long before they see through a lack of it.”
I couldn’t help a burst of laughter, but when Joubert glared at me, I nodded my acquiescence. His attention reverted to Holmes.
“I hunch forward,” my colleague explained, “and affect an exaggerated limp, dragging my right leg . . . Moving to the edge of the crowd . . . I follow a man who has lost both legs from the knee down. He pushes himself along in a flat, small-wheeled cart, jeering as heartily as the rest . . . He wears a military jacket—split up the sides and faded, held to his chest with what might be a gentleman’s stocking. Across his thighs is draped a flag of the republic, doubtless torn from its place outside one of the big city houses . . . but I pass easily in his wake, for I am bizarre, but not so remarkable as he. The mob grows, and yet we two seem to be able to move through it, into the center. Everyone fears our filth, our stench—and the disease they presume. . . A boy with a drum joins the crowd. . . Then the same chant.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Susanne Dutton is the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips: Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling.
Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head. Those stories tend to seat readers within pinching distance of her characters, who, like most of us, slide at times from real life to fantasy and back. A man with Alzheimer’s sets out alone for his childhood home. A girl realizes she’s happier throwing away her meals than eating them. A woman burgles her neighbors in order to stay in the neighborhood.
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Susanne grew up in the SF Bay Area, has two grown children, and lives with her husband in an old Philadelphia house, built of the stones dug from the ground where it sits.
Advice from the hero of my book, Sherlock Holmes
Asked to share advice from Sherlock Holmes, the hero of my book, “Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable,” I hesitate. He may have saved many lives and stymied many a cruel plot, but he’s not what’s known as a people person. I draw each of these pieces of advice directly from Holmes’ behavior in at least one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s 60 plus original stories. One can only say the detective does the best he can with the gifts he has to make life better for all of us. Who can do more? Many of you already know Holmes or you may have the pleasure of meeting him in my book. If you think there’s some other bit of advice you think he’d want to offer, please let me know at email@example.com. I’ll add your idea to the list and put it in my blog. Thank you!
1) Romantic relationships only drain your energy for better things. I mean it. Don’t even pretend to indulge such a thing unless you are disguised and it’s necessary to solve a crime. If you have to convince yourself of this, you are lost already. It goes without saying that you can and should love your queen—from a safe distance.
2) Dogs are more likely to be reliable than humans.
3) Never draw easy conclusions. Don’t assume. Check it out. The so-called “obvious truth” or “what people say” is nonsense until you have the facts yourself. Until you have the all the facts you are only gathering data. Leave it at that, unless you want to be as inept as Scotland Yard.
4) Your brain has only so much space. Be on guard against unnecessary information. I refuse to know about the solar system, for instance.
5) Live alone, unless you can’t afford it. If you must “share rooms,” choose an easy-going person unlike yourself, one who is likely to be useful to you.
6) As an afterthought to No. One. If your logical brain goes wonky and insists on a relationship with a soon-to-be-married opera star, make do with witnessing the wedding in disguise. Afterward, you may allow yourself to retain a photograph of the person. Do not buy, steal, or purchase the photograph. The person’s spouse must give it to you.
This post is part of a tour. The tour dates can be found here:
- a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.