I must admit that as a fan of Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I was rather sceptical about this book and the revival of Dr Watson by a contemporary author, but Robert Ryan pulled it off and I feel that there are very few writers who could get away with this, but get away with it he did and it’s a cracking good read.
Dead Man’s Land, set in the Great War, with Doctor Watson, by now an elderly RAMC doctor, who investigates a series of mysterious deaths in a particular group of “Pals” from a northern town, ably assisted by a strong female character in the form of VAD Mrs Gregson, and aided via correspondence from Sherlock Holmes himself.
I really enjoyed the book that had a feasible plot – murder under cover of war. Plenty of detail too regarding blood transfusions, casualty clearing stations, evacuation of wounded from the battlefield. All good stuff.
Apparently there was a bit of artistic licence with the placement of VAD’s but it was crucial to the plot, so we’ll let him off. I wouldn’t have noticed this but it was pointed out to me (by Sue Light: see footnote*)
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series now.
In the back of the book in ‘Acknowledgements’ the author writes ‘Dead Man’s Land was inspired by Sherlock Holmes’s suggestion, at the end of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s His Last Bow (set in 1914) that Watson would return to his old service, which by that stage was called the Royal Army Medical Corps.
* A very good friend of mine Sue Light, an expert in First World War nursing, who sadly passed away recently, was consulted by the author during his research into aspects of medical matters and nursing during the First World War. Sue is mentioned in the acknowledgments and I know that she enjoyed working with Robert Ryan.