I’m thrilled to tell you my third novel Return to Reichenbach is set for release by MX Publishing on December 5th this year. As a special treat, here is the opening scene:
FROM THE DIARY OF MR SHERLOCK HOLMES
Friday, 21st October, 1898
The telegram said only, “Man found on moor in nightshirt. Please come.”
On the train, Watson said, “What on earth could have possessed a man to go wandering around the moors in such a state, Holmes? Can he be a lunatic?”
“You know my process, Watson. It is a capital mistake to theorise in advance of the facts. Even I cannot be expected to develop a reasonable hypothesis based on six words.”
He fell silent, but I knew he was merely framing his next question. As the train pulled into Clapham Junction station, it came. “You must have formed a theory, Holmes,” he said.
My frown did nothing to discourage him. He is too used to me by now, I suppose, to take my aloofness at face value. I said, “I have formed seven hypotheses that broadly cover the little that we know. Until I have facts I cannot determine which is the most likely.”
Sometimes the man is like a child. His need for entertainment is really very immature.
Crowds alighted from the train and dispersed on the platform. They were replaced with another crowd who waved goodbye, and puffed and panted through the carriage in search of their compartments. I have never seen a duller group of travellers.
Were I a criminal instead of a detective, no form of public transport would be safe from me. It is such fertile ground for the picking of pockets and the taking of lives.
“Holmes?” Watson urged, again.
“For instance, I cannot determine how the man came to the moors until I know where, exactly, he was found. All I can determine is that he is alive and incapacitated.”
Watson’s face fell into that comically bewildered expression that usually irritates me, only because I know that most of the time he pretends an ignorance he does not, in fact, possess. In this case, I knew I had truly amazed him. I wrapped my coat closer around me and buried my head in my scarf.
“Wait a minute,” he cried. “You cannot leave it like that. Holmes!”
“Come, my dear Watson. You have as much information as I. You can draw your own conclusions, surely?”
Silence reigned for ten delicious minutes and then he said, “If the man were capable of speaking rationally, he would have given the police some sort of explanation. If that were so, they would not have consulted you.”
Another few moments and then, “But how can you be sure he isn’t dead?”
“My dear Watson,” I said, exasperated, “If the man were dead they would have said they had found a corpse or a body. They describe him as a man; ergo, he is still alive.”
“So he may prove to be a mental patient, if he is unable to give an account of himself.”
“Possibly, but I think not.”
“There are several mental hospitals in Devonshire. Most of them around the Exeter area, if memory serves. Isn’t it possible this poor fellow escaped from one of them?”
“Unlikely.” At his continued bewilderment, I added, “For two reasons: In the first place, the police would surely have checked the local institutions to determine if a patient were missing. In the second, it is customary in such facilities, I believe, to clothe the inmates in standardised clothing. This fellow was found in his nightshirt.”
I deterred him from further speculation by ruminating on the mathematical probabilities of being struck by lightening. Within twenty minutes, my oratory had the desired effect.
Doctor Watson was asleep.