The Secret Diary of Dr. Watson (Crime Collection)

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9780749005702: The Secret Diary of Dr. Watson (Crime Collection)
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Charting the course of their friendship, this ingenious pastiche explores Watson's literary ambition, the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of his wife, the true identity of "The Hound of the Baskervilles, and explains how Holmes died in his final dual with Moriarty - and then came back to life. Watson also reveals some of the adventures that never made it into print.

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From the Publisher:

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. "The Secret Diary of Dr Watson" starts the way most Sherlock Holmes stories start: with a potential client, in this case Hermia Marie Cathcart, asking for help. When did it first occur to you that the narrative flow here might not follow the usual Holmes formula? What was your first clue?

2. We soon find out that Watson has been in a state of high frustration, ever since the novel opened. What does Watson want? Why is he keeping a diary? Why is it a secret diary? Does his relationship to his diary change over the course of the novel? If so, how?

3. Watson asks himself many questions in his diary, some of which we might try to answer for ourselves. Why, for example, do you think Lord St Simon immediately suspected his bride of deserting him while Mary Sutherland had no such suspicion of her fiancé, Hosmer Angel? Does this difference help in any way to explain Watson's later failure to suspect Holmes?

4. Watson is hopeful that Mary Sutherland will take what happiness Life offers her, i.e., will accept young Stamford, whom Watson would probably describe as "sincerely attached" to her. Why is he not equally hopeful that Holmes will settle down? Does this reflect a double standard on Watson's part?

5. Why is Mary Watson not content to "make one man (her husband, John) perfectly happy"? What did you think of her matchmaking campaign, the candidates she presents? Does she do well by Holmes, or not? When does she stop her matchmaking?

6. Does Watson go too far, over the matter of Irene Adler? Why does Holmes agree to it?

7. Naming plays an important role in this novel. Who names Lestrade, Mary Sutherland, Rufus Jamison, Professor Moriarty, Colonel James Moriarty, Sigerson? Why is this important? What is particularly important about Colonel James Moriarty's first name? What does Watson think the name "Sigerson" indicates?

8. Why do you think Watson takes an empty gun with him to the empty house?

9. Does Watson deserve his fate? Is it true that he "should have known"? Holmes seems to see this as a true failure on Watson's part. Do you agree? Why do you think Holmes sees it this way?

10. Does Watson at any point, in your opinion, suffer from writer's block? If so, when? Do you think writer's block is a real affliction? If so, what do you think causes it?

11. Why do you suppose Holmes retires to the Sussex Downs, to keep bees, just as Watson takes up his pen again, to tell the story of "The Empty House"?

12. Many people have read at least some of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Does Holmes behave the same way here as he does there? Does Watson? What makes this novel a new story? Having read this novel, do you have the urge to read (or re-read) any of the original adventures? Which ones?

13. "The Secret Diary of Dr Watson" is a diary novel, with a male narrator and a female author. Did this bother you? Were there places in the novel where Watson suddenly sounded like a woman? Were there particular places that reinforced the maleness of the narrator? If so, what were they? Can you think of any other novels where the narrator and the author are of different genders? Were they successful? How difficult do you think this is to do?

14. Do you feel the same way about Holmes now as you did before reading the novel? Do you feel the same way about Watson?

15. If you could have Holmes or Watson (but not both) as a friend, which one would you choose? Why?

About the Author:

Anita Janda lives and works outside New York City. She is a graduate of Queens College, where she gained her PhD in Linguistics.

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