Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not, page 1
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not
Conceived of and Edited by
Leslie S. Klinger
This is a work of fiction. The events and characters portrayed herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places, events or living persons. The opinions expressed in this manuscript are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the publisher.
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not
All Rights Reserved
All stories in this anthology are copyright ©2019, the authors of each story.
Interior art this edition copyright © 2014-19, Philip Cornell.
Cover Art this edition copyright © 2019 Luke Spooner.
This ebook may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Printed in Palatino Linotype and Nightmare Pills.
IFWG Publishing Australia
Respectfully dedicated to the memory of both
Some years ago I was speaking to Marty Shapiro (a wonderful man who once did me a great professional kindness at no charge that avoided me getting into a very awkward contractual situation) and I asked Marty if he thought his client, Harlan Ellison, might like to consider writing a story for this anthology idea I had. Marty was an agent to greats; not just Ellison, but also to other grandmasters, like Robert Bloch. But in all of our few dealings Marty treated me—a comparable nobody who he’d only ever known via email or phone—with friendliness, candour and incredible generosity.
So, Marty again treated me with largesse, and he talked to Mr Ellison, and Mr Ellison eventually insisted on me phoning him directly.
The details of that astounding phone call (Ellison! Live, on the phone! Sounding as energetic, and brilliant, and as no-bullshit as in any video or audio presentation I’d ever heard him on!) deserve a full description by me in another forum one day, but suffice to say for now that Mr Ellison (he told me to call him ‘Harlan’, and I still have trouble with that) told me he loved my anthology idea (which back then I was entitling ‘Sherlock Holmes and Doctor-WHAT?!’).
I can also reveal Mr Ellison had an idea for writing a particular type of encounter of Holmes and a very particular Doctor. Sadly, timing and the stroke he had later made that impossible, and of course he passed away in recent months (as did Marty). But Mr Ellison’s idea, I have to say, was of his typical genius-level of creativity. One day, if I’m lucky, I may find a suitable and properly respectful way to present that idea to the millions of fans he had.
Regardless, both Marty and Harlan (OK, I’ll refer to him that way now), those two sterling men, are part of the reason I persevered to make this anthology become a reality when the original publication plan went by the wayside. It is therefore very important to me they both be thanked upfront of this volume.
They were titans in their respective professions, and as such giants usually are, they displayed the effortless, uncontrived, uncommon generosity-of-spirit that people who have not a single damn thing to prove to anyone possess. I was just so, so lucky to have personally experienced that.
To Marty and Harlan.
Burwood, NSW, Australia.
Foreword: Sherlock Holmes Among the Doctors
Leslie S. Klinger
During Sherlock Holmes’s active years in the late 19th century, doctors of medicine were relatively populous in England, in a ratio of slightly more than one per one hundred persons. This is in sharp contrast to the ratio in the U.S. today, which is about two per 1,000 persons. In addition to ‘doctors,’ patients were served by ‘surgeons’ (only one hundred years after being classed with barbers) and ‘apothecaries.’ Despite the popularity of the profession, however, medical education was little regulated in the 19th century, though London University and Edinburgh University—training grounds for two men familiar to us—were highly regarded, and doctors still suffered from middling reputations, often regarded as primarily motivated by sales of (their own) nostrums.
It is little wonder that the Sherlock Holmes canon is similarly well-populated by doctors. Doctors appear in thirty-six of the sixty stories, as might be expected from tales largely penned by a physician, even one as inactive as John H. Watson, M.D. Arthur Conan Doyle, who had a great deal to do with the Sherlock Holmes stories, albeit in a vague role, was also a physician, and it is certain that his involvement with the stories was spurred in large part by his association with Dr Joseph Bell. Dr Bell, one of Doyle’s instructors at Edinburgh University, was possessed of legendary observational skills and, although the details are vague, seemed to be employed by Queen Victoria as some sort of special investigator. Bell apparently believed that Sherlock Holmes was a creature of fiction, however, and in 1892, he wrote an essay for The Bookman magazine in which he claimed that he was the ‘model’ for Sherlock Holmes. There is no suggestion that Holmes knew or even knew of Bell, and the evidence that Holmes knew Doyle is slim. Watson may well have come into contact with Doyle, however, for there is an apocryphal suggestion (‘The Field Bazaar’) that Watson may also have attended Edinburgh University. Whatever the case, Bell’s essay was reprinted (probably at the behest of Doyle, in an effort to bolster sales) as an introduction to the 1893 edition of A Study in Scarlet.
Doyle himself seems to have viewed his career in medicine as thrust upon him. “It had been determined that I should be a doctor, chiefly, I think, because Edinburgh was so famous a centre for medical learning,” Doyle wrote in his autobiography Memories and Adventures. “It meant another long effort for my mother, but she was very brave and ambitious where her children were concerned, and I was not only to have a medical education, but to take the University degree, which was a larger matter than a mere licence to practise.” Although later he expressed his joy in putting the practice of medicine behind him to pursue a literary career, he obviously took great pride in the medical profession. Doyle penned a number of stories and books about physicians, including the self-revelatory Round the Red Lamp: Being Facts and Fancies of Medical Life, a collection of medical stories, some undoubtedly reminiscences, published in 1894, and The Stark Munro Letters (1895), a thinly disguised version of Doyle’s medical experiences in Southsea; and of course doctors appeared in many of his other works as well.
John Watson’s medical practices appeared to have placed little demand on his time, to the good fortune of readers everywhere. Although there were spurts of professional enthusiasm—usually generated, it appears, by the urgings of a wife—his uncanny ability to drop everything to take up an adventure with Holmes, or to call in a locum tenens to cover for him on a moment’s notice, placed him in the centre of many an adventure. Among Watson’s accounts, ‘The Resident Patient,’ ‘The Engineer’s Thumb,’ and The Hound of the Baskervilles arose out of a doctor’s concern for his patient, and stories like ‘The Creeping Man’ and ‘The Blanched Soldier,’ neither of which involved a crime, essentially revolve around proper medical diagnosis rather than detective work.
Few cases involved doctors as the focus of Holmes’s attention (‘The Devil’s Foot,’ ‘The
The similarity between medical investigations and investigations of crime was certainly evident to the Victorian and Edwardian reader. In addition to the stories authored by John Watson, the Strand Magazine featured ‘Adventures from the Diary of a Doctor,’ by L. T. Meade and Clifford Halifax. Dr John Evelyn Thorndyke, introduced by R. Austin Freeman in 1905, was perhaps the preeminent scientific detective of his day. Dr Petrie is the stalwart companion of Nayland Smith in the Fu Manchu series published by Sax Rohmer (beginning in 1913). Doctors also were often the principal investigators of supernatural or possibly supernatural mysteries. Dr Martin Hesselius, a German physician with a strong interest in the occult, appeared in a collection of tales, In a Glass, Darkly, published by Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872.
Dr Abraham Van Helsing is the lead detective in Bram Stoker’s 1897 Dracula; he is assisted by Dr John Seward. Algernon Blackwood’s collection John Silence, Physician Extraordinary appeared in 1908; and Dr John Durston appeared in William Le Queux’s collection The Rainbow Mystery: Chronicles of a Colour Criminologist Recorded by His Secretary in 1917. Dr John Richard Taverner, assisted by Dr Rhodes, appeared in Dion Fortune’s series of twelve short stories, collected in 1926. Dr Jules de Grandin featured in Seabury Quinn’s long-running series of short stories, novellas, and one novel printed in Weird Tales, beginning in 1925 and ending in 1951. Medical doctors Herbert West and Marinus Bicknell Willett were the lead investigators in stories by H. P. Lovecraft in the 1920s, and various professors (also termed ‘doctors’) were the principals in many others.
Finally, doctors were popular figures of mystery or villainy in literature. Of course, Dr Henry Jekyll was not himself evil, but his colleague Mr. Hyde certainly was, in the eponymous 1886 tale by Robert Louis Stevenson. Doctor Caresco, an insane surgeon, appeared in works by Andre Couvreur (between 1899 and 1904), and the misadventures of the equally insane Doctor Jack Quartz were written by Frederic Van Rensselaer Dey (1891-1925). Dr Moreau’s egregiously cruel work is depicted in H. G. Well’s The Island of Doctor Moreau in 1896, and the strange figure of Doctor Nikola first appeared in Guy Boothby’s A Bid for Fortune (1895) and four sequels. Dr Mabuse, a master of disguise, featured in Dr. Mabuse der Spieler, a 1927 novel by Norbert Jacques, and a series of films. No list of villainous doctors would be complete without reference to the principal actors of the ‘Yellow Peril,’ Doctor Yen How, whose first appearance was in 1898, depicted by M. P. Shiel, and of course, Dr. Fu Manchu, mentioned above, who first appeared in 1913.
Holmes generally disdained his Continental rivals. Witness, for example, his harsh words about the Comte Auguste Dupin, the investigator Alphonse Bertillon, and the detective LeCoq (all French, it may be noted). Yet he had grudging respect for official colleagues like Stanley Hopkins and François le Villard and his friend and ‘hated rival’ Barker; and of course Holmes depended on his ‘trusty comrade’ Watson. It is not difficult to imagine him, then, working with other competent companions, as the writers of this collection have recorded, many of them physicians. It is also earnestly to be hoped that, as some suggest in the following tales, Holmes would have taken vigorous steps to oppose those doctors who were among ‘the first of criminals.’
Sadly, despite handling over 1,000 cases during his career, only sixty stories of Sherlock Holmes’s investigations were published prior to the death of Watson’s friend Arthur Conan Doyle. For over one hundred years, readers have hoped that more tales would emerge. Now, this collection is at hand. Although the Bible advises against putting new wine into old wineskins, the English novelist Angela Carter sagely wrote, “I am all for putting new wine in old bottles, especially if the pressure of the new wine makes the bottles explode.” For a taste of explosively good new wine, read on!
The Final Prologue
From the handwritten Notebook of Doctor John H. Watson.
It began on a cold October morning. Holmes was seated at the breakfast table, smoking a cherrywood pipe and cutting pieces from The Times for his scrapbook. I was nearer the fire, scribbling notes for a paper I wanted to submit to The Lancet on some of the most interesting medical aspects of the Victor Savage murder that Holmes had solved with my help—the matter that saw print as The Dying Detective.
Victor Savage’s uncle, the famous American doctor and adventurer, had corresponded with both Holmes and I and his additional researches on the deadly disease used to murder his poor nephew were very worthy of adding to the published lore on the illness, and with his consent I was readying an article.
Into this scene of quiet concentration a quick footstep was suddenly heard bounding up the stairwell leading to our rooms, and Holmes looked at me with a smile. I squared my papers away as I, too, recognised the signature of Inspector Tobias Gregson.
“Gentlemen. Good to find you at home,” said the inspector, as his large frame entered our sitting room doorway.
“Ah, Gregson, equally a pleasure to see you—the last time was the Red Circle episode?” laughed Holmes.
“Very true, sir,” said Gregson, doffing his hat and smoothing back his flaxen hair, and then helping himself to a cup of Mrs Hudson’s coffee.
“And I’m afraid it’s more of the same, Mister Holmes. Murder and mayhem. But there is a mystery solved at the same time as a mystery begun in the business I’m here about today.”
Holmes had moved his chair and a third one over to the grate and gestured to Gregson to occupy one. “Excellent,” he said. “Please explain, and we shall make a decision about whether to take the train to Endover this morning or this afternoon.”
Gregson stared, then looked himself over, inspecting his coat, waistcoat and pockets, and the hat he’d laid down, then turned a steely eye at Holmes. “Not fair, Mister Holmes, I’ve no train tickets or letters sticking out of my pockets or hatband—how did you know my intentions?”
“The newspaper, Inspector. It contains a report of a body discovered in the West country, at Endover last night—not described as murder, but as ‘cause of death—unknown, the matter having been referred to Scotland Yard’. You are here at eight in the morning, well before you normally arrive at your desk, ergo the matter relates to an issue from yesterday, or one you were urgently contacted about overnight. You mention murder, not mysterious death, so you do have information the paper is not privy to. Finally, Endover is normally outside your jurisdiction, unless of course it relates to some other matter, already in progress. I submit in the case of a newly discovered body that would then have to be a previously notified ‘missing persons’ matter. If you are here, you have not been to Endover, so I must assume you seek our company for the trip on either the morning or afternoon train that makes that run.”
Gregson’s blue eyes twinkled as he interrupted with a chuckle. “Very good, sir! Since May I have been trying to clear up the matter of a missing man—an engineer, a specialist in locomotive and engine design, named David Twykham. Only thirty years of age, he was a lecturer in engineering at Camford, too—quite brilliant, or so I’m told.
“Earlier this year Twykham left his house in Endover, in the West, to visit the barber, a routine occurrence, his family say. But he never arrived at the scheduled appointment and he never came back. A man of extremely regular habits, so the matter was exceedingly odd. However, there was some talk of a woman at the university he was overly-friendly with—so a scandal was whispered of. But when this woman—an assistant in the library—was questioned she went into shock—she knew nothing about Twykham’s disappearance, and in fact had been planning to introduce him to her family as he wanted to broach the topic of marriage. Inquiries were made, his entire family and known friends were canvassed, but nothing was determined. A complete my
“Was he engaged on any project of significance at the university?” said Holmes. “Perhaps in the military line—anything our friends in rival nations might either want to prevent this emerald isle completing, or which they would rather acquire first themselves?”
“Not as far as I can tell, sir. Twykham was working with the rail company on new engines, and even some track specifications, but nothing that would be confidential, as far as I can tell; just refinements of existing designs, as far as anyone can advise me.”
“I see,” said Holmes. “Now, Mr Twykham’s body has been found, and by the circumstances murder is your straightforward conclusion, yet you have not seen the body, thus I assume a witness is involved? And as you are here in my consulting rooms, I assume some unusual aspect to this case awaits us?”
The big man grinned. “Indeed, there are features that suggest your ‘unorthodox’ lines of inquiry might be valuable, sir. Because the witness that you have correctly deduced exists, well, he has made quite a claim.”
“Claim?” I ventured. “That suggests doubt, Inspector. What is this claim?”
Gregson placed his hat back on his head. “That David Twykham was shot in the back by a man who looked exactly like himself.”
Holmes tapped his almost empty pipe into the grate. “I believe we should catch that morning train, Watson.” he said.
Holmes always enjoyed travelling via the railway, as a first class carriage provided him both a comfortable situation and a place to smoke, as well as the sense of activity that his restless nature craved. He reviewed the facts with Gregson and I once more as the carriages rattled along, but for the most part he was silent—his grey eyes surveying the countryside outside the windows dispassionately.
I could only recall Gregson travelling with us once before—during the Adventure of the Cardiff Giantess—and it was clear he was still unaccustomed to Holmes’s lack of effort to entertain or respond to idle social remarks. Eventually the Inspector gave up and directed his dialogue solely at me, and I must confess his interest in football matches tested me—as rugby was the only game that had remained important to me since my university days.