Tag Archives: Sherlock Holmes

Lockdown Fiction: The Dancing Bees

Improbable Press’s latest prompt included bees, and then I thought of that old tradition that the bees must be told when their keeper dies. And then I thought of Sherlock Holmes being away during WWI as a spy. And then I thought of John Watson. And then I thought of this.

The Dancing Bees

It is spring and we bees work, we fly, we gather pollen for our colony, for our queen.  We nourish, we protect, we select and serve our queen.

Our Keeper is away and in his stead, his own worker-drone-queen protects the colony.

The wingless four-limbs are nothing like the hive; and our Keeper and the Other are sometimes like a bee, sometimes like the flowers. We know, from springs and summers and some sunny autumn days that they have stamens, and pollen, which they gather or sometimes let fall to earth (though no new flower ever grows from this seed).

Our Keeper and His Other are not like bees at all, and for many turns of the sun now, our Keeper has been gone.

Soon, soon, His Other will come to tell us. He will keep the tradition.

He will tell the bees that our Keeper is dead.

We are puzzled that he has not already done so. His Other sits wilted among us, many days. He Keeps us as our Keeper would, with faith though less skill. He sighs our Keeper’s name among the hives.

“Sherlock misses you.”

The Other means that he misses our Keeper too. We know this. He sighs. He wilts. Sometimes he leaks, wet salt on his face. This leaking he shares not with other wingless ones, but only with his fellow workers (fellow drones, fellow Queen; our Keeper mates with him, so the Other is maybe a Queen; or maybe our Keeper is the Queen of his colony-of-two. As we say, the four-limbs are peculiar and will not succumb to correct roles).

We the bees know that far away is danger. Dances waggled from the unfathomable distance tell us.  The dances come from the colonies near the stone hive, which is clustered by the river up north and filled with four-limb drones and workers (and a male Queen; we will never fathom them at all). The stone hive is smashed by falling black clouds, and the air is filled with dust and great cries. Such danger!

Our Keeper is in the danger, further even than the stone hive; across the Great Salt Wet. He told us before he left, that he would fly far, so far, to gather strange pollens, to waggle the dance of its knowledge to his Male Queen and the Drones and Workers of the stone hive.

We miss our Keeper. His Other misses him. We wait for the telling. For word that it is time to Farewell the Keeper with the solemn, grave dance of goodbye.

Here he comes today, the Other. Today he comes to tell us, and become our new Keeper.

Take courage, Dear New Keeper.

He walks on his two back limbs (so ungainly, more than ever today, poor unbalanced drone-worker-queen without his Keeper. He will Keep us now our First Keeper is gone, but who will Keep him now?)

His Sorrowing Other comes to wilt and sigh and leak among us today.

But no! The Other sorrows not, though he leaks and sighs. He does not wilt. He stands tall as a tree, that little hedge upon his face stretches happy with his mouthpart.

“He’s coming home. The war is over and he’s done his part, and Sherlock is coming home. Today, tonight, soon! By God, he’s coming back to me. To us. Sherlock is coming home!”

He sits among the hives, a flower waiting for the sun to shine on him; waiting for his drone-worker-queen to gather his pollen; waiting to be whole with his colony-of-two once more.

Around him, we bees dance, we waggle the news to all our kin and to our queen: Our Keeper returns!

No need for the Goodbye dance now, no. Today we dance a greeting, and rise up in a cloud as we see him arrive through the garden gate. His Other rises with us, and walks, then runs (unbalanced still, his hind limbs stiff with age and with sitting) to his Keeper.

Like bee to pollen, like flower to sun, like the colony to the hive he goes, they go, and embrace, and we dance, we dance, for our Hive is whole again.

Quintette of Questions: GV Pearce

Today I’m asking GV Pearce 5 questions about their new book!

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

The book is called Ghost Story, which is also an accurate description for its contents. There were a few themes so it was a little difficult to choose, but sometimes it’s nice to get straight to the point. I’m sure John wishes Sherlock would do that more often too!

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

Early 1980s Paul McGann and Richard E Grant. There are some photographs of the pair of them taken behind the scenes of a film that absolutely fits the aesthetic for this John and Sherlock. McGann’s overgrown hair is perfect for an ex-military man finding his new persona, and Grant has always looked a little spooky.

3. What five words best describe your story?

Eerie, melancholy, uncanny, sanguine, tactile.

4. Who is your favourite fictional team/couple?

Gomez & Morticia Addams have always been my touchstone for perfect relationships. They’re always there for one another, no matter how strange their lives become.

5. What song reflects a theme, character, relationship or scene in your book?

‘When You Don’t See Me’ by Sisters of Mercy could easily apply to both the central relationship and the central theme of the book (not to give too much away) 

About Ghost Story

John Watson loves his husband, but he’d like Sherlock Holmes to leave this case alone. They’re supposed to be taking a break from London. From work. But then again, when has Sherlock’s brain ever taken a holiday? And honestly, the strange disappearance of Gloria Evans bothers them both—though for very different reasons.

Buy Ghost Story

About GV Pearce

G.V. Pearce is a mysterious being said to haunt the North York Moors, but is otherwise as yet unclassified by science. Rumour has it that they can be summoned by leaving coffee in a faery circle at midnight.

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Read my review of Ghost Story.

Review: Ghost Story by GV Pearce

The latest book from Improbable Press gives us a piquant blend of love story, character study and spoooookiness.

This Holmes/Watson tale has an original contemporary London/York setting and opens with John and Sherlock, married for several months now, on what ought to be a belated honeymoon but which John knows to be a case – a case which Sherlock said he wasn’t pursuing. Already it’s clear that while they love and adore each other, there’s rockiness ahead.

Sherlock’s not the only one keeping secrets, however. From the very first chapter we know that John sees ghosts, and has done since he was a child. He can’t tell anyone – people would think him unbalanced – so he avoids thinking about it whenever possible. That is not as often as he’d like.

Ghost Story is both a great little Holmesian mystery about the missing Gloria Evans: it’s a fantastically spooky tale of a man haunted by ghosts and the traumas of his past; his relationship with a man who seems equal parts obliviousness and devotion; and a study of the cracks in a loving relationship when the deceptions pile up, whatever the motivations.

The unravelling of those secrets and why they’re being kept are part of a beautifully texture of a low-key case that feels very intense in terms of its impact.

A couple of the scenes are deeply affecting and gorgeously evocative. Gloria’a abandoned flat, where greenery has invaded the spaces; the streets and buildings of York; the banks of a river; the flashbacks to John’s childhood and the attack on the ambulance convoy in Afghanistan – all of these are described so splendidly that I could almost scent the atmosphere – Gloria’s flat particularly.

One of the many things I love about Ghost Story is how it becomes gradually clear that the spirits that John encounters are not the only ghosts of the title.

John and Sherlock are both a little ghost-like themselves, not quite anchored in the world or entirely present for each other. Sherlock flits in and out of John’s life for a while, through the flashbacks of how they met and their first case, and he still keeps secrets and disappears without explanation. At the same time, in avoiding confrontation and acceptance of his unwanted gift, and the secret that he’s therefore keeping himself, combined with the effects of his war injuries, John is absent in key ways too.

It’s a beautiful theme that threads through the whole and makes the conclusion – in which the resolutions for the hauntings and John and Sherlock’s relationship are linked – particularly satisfying.

GV Pearce has written us a wonderfully atmospheric, beautifully paced book – it may take a little time for case/relationship/ghostiness to come to a head, but every step is deeply involving and the reader is fully engaged with wondering how all the elements will turn out. It is in turns poignant, charming, funny and unsettling, but it’s deftly wound together in a conclusion that satisfies without being heavy handed.

I hope Pearce considers another book for Improbable Press – in this universe or any other they care to write in. I’ll pounce on it the minute I can!

Buy Ghost Story

Quintette of Questions: Margaret Walsh

Today I’m asking Margaret Walsh 5 questions about her latest book!

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

My latest book is Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Perplexed Politician.  It was very hard to pick a title, because everything else I came up with pretty much gave away the plot of the book.  In the end I polled several variations on Perplexed Politician (Puzzled Politician etc) amongst friends and Perplexed was the favourite.  So I went with that.

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

David Tennant as Sherlock Holmes and Michael Sheen as John Watson.

3. What five words best describe your story?

Murder. Mayhem. Mystery. Sherlock Holmes.

4. Who is your favourite fictional team/couple?

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, naturally.

5. What song reflects a theme, character, relationship or scene in your book?

“The Mummer’s Dance” by Loreena McKennitt.  I listened to it a lot when I was writing the book.  The song always makes me think of the otherworldly eeriness that is a hallmark of the English county of Wiltshire, which is where the book is set.

About The Case of the Perplexed Politician

When the fiancé of the sister of a Member of Parliament is found dead in mysterious circumstances, the man turns to Sherlock Holmes and John Watson to get an answer to the puzzle. Journeying to the small Wiltshire village of Barrow-upon-Kennet, Holmes and Watson are soon deep into a murder investigation. With few clues and a mounting death toll, Holmes and Watson realize that they are facing something much more sinister than a perplexed politician.

Buy The Case of the Perplexed Politician

About Margaret Walsh

Margaret Walsh was born Auckland, New Zealand and now lives in Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of Sherlock Holmes and the Molly-Boy Murders and Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Perplexed Politician, both published by MX Publishing. 

Margaret has been a devotee of Sherlock Holmes since childhood and has had several Holmesian related essays printed in anthologies and is a member of the online society Doyle’s Rotary Coffin.  She has an ongoing love affair with the city of London.  When she’s not working or planning trips to London. Margaret can be found frequenting the many and varied bookshops of Melbourne.

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