|The Holmes brothers in dispute|
"His brother is intimidating enough, but with Mr. Mycroft Holmes I was very nearly a puddle on the floor."
-- Lucyna Modjeska (Watson)
Ann Margaret Lewis's The Watson Chronicles began with an argument. The author was writing her excellent Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes when she had a vision of the brothers Holmes, Sherlock and Mycroft, having a Christmas-time confrontation.
She wrote that scene. And around it grew a book. Subtitled A Sherlock Holmes Novel in Stories, it is made up of three novellas and three short stories - some of them mysteries and some not. Together they tell two touching love stories. One involves the middle-aged Dr. Watson and his much younger third wife, Lucyna -- the doctor in Winter.
The other love story is about Lucyna's love for Mycroft Holmes, a redemptive relationship that has nothing to do with romance. It changes Mycroft, and eventually Sherlock as well.
The author accepts a number of Sherlockian conventions - Watson's middle name is Hamish and Holmes's birthday is January 6, for example. In other respects she is highly creative in imagining what happened between the canonical Holmes stories, including her creation of the third Mrs. Watson. But her inventions are always plausible.
The characters, the story, the writing -- everything in this book is on pitch; there are no false notes.
And as with Murder in the Vatican, the volume is enhanced by a series of seven charming illustrations by Rikki Niehaus.The book is available at the Wessex Press website, www.wessexpress.com.