The Romanovs, Reilly "Ace of Spies," Al Capone, Winston Churchill, Stalin, Babe Ruth, King George V, and other familiar figures from the pages of history - that's what Phil Growick's Sherlock Holmes novels are made of. I called the gregarious author recently to ask him a few questions about his work. He e-mailed me the answers:
Q: How did you first become acquainted with Sherlock Holmes.
In front of a B&W TV set in my grandparents’ living room. It was Basil. You can’t beat Basil. To me, Holmes, through Rathbone, embodied everything that everyone around me was not: brilliant, courteous, gentlemanly. No one I knew in New York City had such a stiff upper-lip or spoke so beautifully.
Q: Why did you write your first Holmes novel, The Secret Journal of Dr. Watson?
I’ve always been a history nut. I’d been reading a history of the Romanov dynasty and of Nicholas II and his family being executed by the Bolsheviks and wondered what if they hadn’t been executed? And if they hadn’t been executed, who would’ve been able to have saved them?
Putting the historic pieces together of who was where and when, it made total sense to insert Holmes and Watson into the mix and stir till brought to a verbal boil.
Q: Did you have to do any further research?
Please don’t hit me over the head with a club, but not really; but that’s only because I had read so much about the period, the British royal family, WWI, the Russian Revolution and the rest that it was simply a matter of just getting on with it.
The fun for me was putting people like George V, Lenin, David Lloyd George, Sidney Reilly (Ace of Spies), and other historical personages into close proximity of Holmes and Watson to see what could happen.
Then, being sadistic, I gave it a surprise ending which left everyone asking what happened to the people in the book; most especially, of course, Holmes?
By the way, to my knowledge, no one has, as yet, seen that surprise ending coming.
Q: So that’s why you wrote the sequel, The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes?
Absolutely. Being an obliging bloke, I decided to answer the questions. But since I’m sadistic, this book has three surprise endings.
Q: Do you have more historic personages in this book or the same ones?
Very good question. Let’s say that Revenge has some of the same people, but new ones, as well. In fact, the mix is quite startling. People as disparate as Winston Churchill and Al Capone, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Bugsy Siegel.
Q: Are you planning a third Holmes novel?
Well, since Revenge has three surprise endings, I’ll continue my sadism my saying, “Perhaps.”
The Secret Journal of Dr Watson is available from all good bookstores including in the USA Amazon, Barnes and Noble, in the UK Amazon, Waterstones, and for everywhere else Book Depository who offer free worldwide delivery. In ebook format there is Kindle, iPad, Nook and Kobo. So is its sequel, The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes.