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Literature / Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not

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Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not is a 2019 'what if' anthology edited by Christopher Sequeira and based around the premise 'What if Sherlock Holmes had a different offsider than Doctor Watson?'.

Sherlock Holmes truly trusted but one person—Doctor John H. Watson—but in an ocean of infinite realities it must be possible that in some of them Holmes' fellow tenant at 221B Baker Street could be some other doctor, from any page of history or the annals of literature!

Come with us now as we peer into the bizarre and sometimes terrifying fates that await the Master Sleuth when his cases, his reputation, and his very fate rests in the hands, or claws—of some very different medicos!


The tropes are afoot!

  • Action Girl: Dr. Amelia Van Helsing in "The Locked Cell Murder" is a monster hunter who wields a pair of wakizashi and comes to Holmes' rescue by making a Super Window Jump through the skylight of a warehouse.
  • Animal Assassin: In "The Adventure of the Sacrifice Stone", Lady Sarah plans to murder Flower with a red-bellied black snake. Roylott speculates she might have been intending it as a Fright Deathtrap as the bite of the snake is unlikely to be immediately fatal.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Holmes chooses to do this when he rejects Herbert West's chemical immortality in "The Adventure of the Reckless Resurrectionist". Watson hopes he will someday be able to join Holmes.
  • "Begone" Bribe: In "The Adventure of the Sacrifice Stone", Lady Sarah offers her son's fiancée, Flower Dalrymple, a cheque for one thousand pounds if she breaks off the engagement and never returns.
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  • Brainwashed and Crazy: In "Curtain Call", Dr. Faustus hypnotises a man into believing that he murdered Dr. Mabuse, and then later into actually murdering Professor Moriarty.
  • Clear Their Name: In "The Forlorn Death of Sally at the Crossroads", Holmes has to clear Doc Holliday from a spurious charge of murder.
  • Cowboy Episode: In "The Forlorn Death of Sally at the Crossroads", Holmes teams up with Doc Holliday to solve a murder in a small town in The Wild West.
  • Death Row: In "The Locked Cell Murder", Holmes and Dr. Amelia Van Helsing investigate when a convicted murderer is found strangled in his locked cell on death row two days before he was due to be executed.
  • Direct Line to the Author: In "The Adventure of the Madman", author Nancy Holder claims the story is transcribed from phonograph cylinders found in the effects of one of her ancestors, Mary Holder, who is a major character in the story.
  • Elseworlds: The premise of the collection is 'What if Sherlock Holmes had a different offsider than Doctor Watson?'.
  • Evil Sorcerer: In "The Investigation into The Dawning Od: A Sherlock Holmes and Dr Arthur Conan Doyle Mystery", Otto Von Reichenbach is a practitioner of the dark arts who desires power over the Od. During the Boer Wars, Von Reichenbach has an army of British soldiers positioned in South Africa poisoned, turning them into monsters under his control who slaughter their loved ones upon returning home. Unleashing them on Britain, Von Reichenbach harvests the power created from their carnage, intending to use to it open a portal using the Od to release an army on the world to brutally put it under his foot.
  • False Flag Operation: In "The Angel of Truth", Holmes discovers that a seeming Catholic plot against Queen Elizabeth I was in fact instigated by her spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham to allow him to continue his crackdown on Papists.
  • Fright Deathtrap: In "The Adventure of the Sacrifice Stone", Dr. Roylott speculates that Lady Sarah intends the red-bellied black snake to frighten Miss Dalrymple to death than as an actual Animal Assassin. Holmes disagrees, pointing out that their client is hardly a hysterical young woman who will keel over at the sight of a serpent. As it turns out, Lady Sarah is insane and probably believed her scheme would work.
  • Gaslighting: In "The Adventure of the Madman", Moriarty sprinkles powdered Devil Foot Root on the wood Dr. Seward is burning to heat his asylum: hoping to send the doctor mad so no one will ever believe there was a patient called 'M'.
  • God Guise: In "The Angel of Truth", Dr.John Dee is seeking divine assistance in unraveling a plot against Queen Elizabeth I. He attempts to summon and bind the Angel of Truth. Who he in fact summons is Sherlock Holmes, who tartly observes that what Dee requires is not the Angel of Truth, but rather the Angel of Deduction. Throughout the adventure, Dee remains convinced that Holmes is an angel.
  • Historical Domain Character: Real world doctors who get paired with Holmes include Doc Holliday, Doctor John Dee, Doctor Theodore Moriarty (a Victorian spiritualist and occultist), and Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • Improvised Cross: In "The Final Prologue", Holmes snaps off a section of handrail and its crossbar from the railway carriage, and uses it to repel his vampiric counterpart.
  • Kill and Replace: In "Curtain Call", Dr. Johann Faustus kills and Dr. Hieronymus Mabuse and assumes his identity as part of his plan to take control of London's underworld.
  • Locked Room Mystery: In "The Locked Cell Murder", Holmes and Dr. Amelia Van Helsing investigate when a convicted murderer is found strangled in his locked cell on Death Row two days before he was due to be executed.
  • Makeup Is Evil: Referenced in "The Adventure of the Walk Out Wardrobe". Holmes is explaining the odd actions of the victim, and comments that because commercial cosmetics are associated with prostitutes and actresses, respectable ladies wishing to enjoy the benefits of makeup often attempt to make their own.
  • My Beloved Smother: In "The Adventure of the Sacrifice Stone", Lady Sarah has vowed that her son will never marry. When his son brings home a fiancée, she initially tires to drive her away with hostility, and then attempts to buy her off. When this fails, she decides to murder her.
  • Mythology Gag: In "The Locked Cell Murder", Holmes busts up a cult that sounds suspiciously like the one defeated by the teenaged Sherlock Holmes in the movie Young Sherlock Holmes.
  • Outside-Context Problem: A good description of the reason for Holmes’s failure in the cases of “The Sign of Two” and “Curtain Call”, as Holmes’s logical, scientific mind means that he literally cannot comprehend the idea that Jekyll and Hyde could be the same man or that his long-time friend Doctor Mabuse is actually an immortal agent of Satan.
  • Photographic Memory: Dr. Amelia Van Helsing possesses this quality in "The Locked Cell Murder". Holmes comments on how useful it is in their of work, and has her memorise the guards' files and recite the facts back to him as he needs them.
  • Prospector: A stereotypical grizzled old prospector, looking for his missing mule, plays a major role in the solution of the mystery in "The Forlorn Death of Sally at the Crossroads".
  • The Real Remington Steele: In "The Investigation into the Dawning Od", Arthur Conan Doyle has written a series of short stories about Secret Agent Holmes, based on series of outlandish rumours he had heard in Whitehall. He is shocked when the real Sherlock Holmes turns up, not at all happy about having his cover blown.
  • Shout-Out: Some of the other Holmes and Watson pairings seen in "The Final Prologue" include one where Holmes is Dracula and Watson is the Frankenstein Monster, and another where Holmes is The Joker and Watson is The Penguin.
  • Super Window Jump: In "The Locked Cell Murder", Amelia Van Helsing enters the story by leaping through the skylight of a warehouse to save Holmes from a gang of cultists.
  • Trouble Magnet Gambit: In "The Adventure of the Sacrifice Stone", Samuel splashes Miss Dalrymple's coat with a herbal potion designed to attract snakes.
  • Water Source Tampering: In "The Investigation into the Dawning Od", Dr. Otto Von Reichenbach poisons the water supply for the British troops bivouacked outside Bloemfontein with a magic potion that will transform those who have consumed it into monsters after they have returned to England.
  • Writing Indentation Clue: In "The Sign of Two", Holmes rubs a pencil over the top sheet of Dr. Jekyll's notebook and is able to bring up some of his notes: enough to give him an indication of what he is working on.