As I announced last week, my first novel A Biased Judgement: The Sherlock Holmes Diaries 1897 has been released as an audio book. It seems to be doing very well both in the US and in the UK. In honour of the event, I thought I’d release a set of reading guide questions for the book. You can use them on your own, or with your reading group. If you do use them, I’d love to know your thoughts on these questions, or any others you’ve come up with. Let me know in the comments.
A READING GUIDE FOR A BIASED JUDGEMENT: THE SHERLOCK HOLMES DIARIES 1897
- With only a couple of exceptions, the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are narrated by Dr Watson. In A Biased Judgement, the story is told in the form of a diary written by Holmes himself. In what way does this format affect your understanding of the character and his companions?
- A Biased Judgement contains elements of several different genres. How would you categorise it? Do you think genre classifications are helpful to the reader? What are your favourite / least favourite genres to read? Why?
- In A Biased Judgement, the author weaves the plot through some canonical tales written by Doyle, such as The Devil’s Foot and The Dancing Men. If you were already familiar with those stories, how did their inclusion in A Biased Judgement change your appreciation of them? If you weren’t already familiar with them, did the novel motivate you to read them?
- Sherlock Holmes once said, “The lowest and vilest alleys of London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.” (The Copper Beeches) Does Schear’s description of Rillington Manor in Bitterne support that contention? How?
- In A Biased Judgement, Sherlock Holmes confesses, “My success in my chosen field owes much to friend Watson’s unshakeable faith.” How does the novel support this theory?
- Part of the theme of the novel is the way some people in this period were kept on the fringes of society because they were women, poor, or practiced lifestyles that were then considered immoral. How does the author demonstrate this injustice? In what ways do our modern attitudes colour our reading of historical fiction?
- The character of Lady Beatrice has been described as, “an instantly likable and respectable character who is on a par with Irene Adler for great Holmes women.” What do you think is her appeal? In what way does she differ from those other “great Holmes women”? What qualities, if any, does she share with them?
- The novel is set against the unrest of the late 19th What parallels can you draw between the world of 1897 and today?
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once described London as a great cesspool (A Study in Scarlet). How is the city depicted in A Biased Judgement?