Echoes of Holmes, Crombie & Doctorow
The Case of the Speckled Trout
by Deborah Crombie
My name is Sherry Watson. It’s a crap name, Sherry, I know. But what can you do? It’s not like I had a say in the matter. My parents, to give them credit, were trying to do the right thing—a sentimental gesture I wondered if they were sorry for after.
They named me after my godfather, who is—or was, before he vanished a year ago—a famous detective. All I have to say is it’s a good thing I wasn’t a boy, or I would really have something to be pissed off with him about. Actually, he’s responsible for a lot of things I should be pissed off about, my godfather, not the least of which was me standing in a freezing Scottish kitchen, up to my elbows in fish guts.
My godfather has a history of vanishing, so it wasn’t a big deal in the beginning. But the months went by with no word, no calls, no dropping in unexpectedly for dinner, then Mum and Dad getting more and more stony-faced and changing the subject whenever I asked about him. It was my last year at school and I was expecting at least the encouraging text now and again. I know my godfather supposedly doesn’t like women, but he never treated me like one. Like a girl, I mean. He helped with my science projects, quizzed me on my history, corrected my grammar—even in my texts. (Very annoying, I can tell you.)
The Adventure of the Extraordinary Rendition
by Cory Doctorow
Holmes buzzed me into his mansion flat above Baker Street Station without a word, as was his custom, but the human subconscious is a curious instrument. It can detect minute signals so fine that the conscious mind would dismiss them as trivialities. My subconscious picked up on some cue—the presence of a full stop in his text, perhaps: “Watson, I must see you at once.” Or perhaps he held down the door admission buzzer for an infinitesimence longer than was customary.
I endured unaccountable nerves on the ride up in the lift, whose smell reminded me as ever of Changi airport, hinting at both luxury and industry. Or perhaps I felt no nerves at all—I may be fooled by one of my memory’s many expert lies, its seamless insertion of the present-day’s facts into my recollections of the past. That easy facility with untruth is the reason for empiricism. No one, not even the storied Sherlock Holmes himself, can claim to have perfect recollection. It’s a matter of neuroanatomy. Why would your brain waste its precious, finite neurons on precise recall of the crunch of this morning’s toast when there are matters of real import that it must also store and track?
I had barely touched the polished brass knocker on flat 221 when the handle turned and the door flew open. I caught a momentary glimpse of Holmes’s aquiline features in the light from the hallway sconce before he turned on his heel and stalked back into the gloom of his vestibule, the tails of his mouse-colored dressing-gown swirling behind him as he disappeared into his study. I followed him, resisting the temptation to switch on a light to guide me through the long, dark corridor.