The Watson Letters Vol.2 Not the 39 Steps - Colin Garrow - Book Cover
Detective, Mystery & Thriller

Not the 39 Steps – Colin Garrow

The Watson Letters – Volume 2

A fascinating novel consisting of Sherlock Holmes tales in quite a different setting with that typical British dry wit and cunning plots …


If you’re expecting a lifelike description of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth Sherlock Holmes – think again. This appears to be like it but is completely different. It is a witty humorous tale of ‘Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson – from an introspective view.’ The stories are there, related even to real life authors such as John Buchan and his crime thriller ‘The 39 Steps’ involving spies and conspiracy theories. What binds the plots is the unique way in which Colin Garrow paints his portrait of our Baker Street heroes: with constant reminders of the “thickness” of Dr Watson and references to various (male) body parts, in particular, the ones below the waist. The suggestions made are most of the time absurd, but somehow you can’t help smiling upon yet another physical discomfort described so bluntly.

Needless to say that this is not for the faint-hearted, nor for those who seek the higher goal of emancipation and feminism. Whenever Dr Watson has to empathize he is reminded of ‘exploring his feminine side’, if you think this is too much, then clearly you will not appreciate this witty detective novel. By the way, even Mrs Watson makes a considerable contribution, she seems of somewhat disreputable character and has regular flings, for instance with an Italian ice cream seller. She even proves more useful to Holmes than her spouse, who, when asked to take stakes to Count Alucard’s castle brings a variety of  ‘T-bones, ribeyes and pork chops” with him to which Holmes reacts “Ah. Then we might have an even bigger problem..” Just to name some diversions in the book.


Not the 39 Steps

The date is August 22nd, 1889, the place Nobfiddler’s Lane and the note attracting Dr Watson’s attention is written by Bill Sikes. It refers to a certain Mr Hannay, mentioning ’39 steps’, who was in danger from two sinister looking types following him. Hence our Mr Sikes took the precaution to put Hannay safe and warn Dr Watson – to investigate the matter with Sherlock Holmes.  When Holmes doesn’t respond, Watson decides to take the matter into his own hands. He persuades Hannay to return to his home and assures him that he, Watson, will accompany him. Upon returning to Hannay’s home everything seems to be in order though Watson is “a little disappointed to discover there were no Custard Creams” to go with their tea.

When a knifed man stumbles in, saying ‘ostovich’ with his dying breath, a postcard of a Scottish village on him, it is time for action. Watson and Hannay travel to Scotland by train to find out what is going on. If this case is based on a novel Hannay wrote, there could be spies involved, just as Hannay described. Is it a surprise that Watson finds his friend Holmes aboard the train to Scotland? And isn’t it irritating that Holmes asks him if he has “worked it out yet..?” Of course, Watson hasn’t ‘got’ it and needs his friend to decipher the case. What follows are misunderstandings, plots going wrong, appearances of both Holmes’ favourite cop Lestrade and his enemy Moriarty and bowels having difficulty digesting all of this.

Cold Comfort Murder

When Watson receives a rather urgent message from Flora, daughter of a former school-mate, he feels obliged to come to the rescue. The maid is fair, the countryside is lovely and the promise of an abundance of food is enough to get him going. However, before he endeavours to bring up the subject to his wife, she requests him to fulfil her needs before entering into the claws of a beautiful country girl. Before he leaves, Watson contacts Holmes, to find that he’s abroad, currently residing in France, with no intention to leave Madame Pompadour just yet.

Does it come as a surprise when Watson finally arrives at the farm, that the knife-stabbed body is still in its place? That no police officer has been notified? And that soon more sinister and dark secrets are being revealed? And that Watson has no inkling how to handle the case without Holmes, is so desperate that he sends for Mrs Watson, Mary? That she upon entering the farm figures out one or two obvious clues, totally missed by Watson? And what is it that happened in the woodshed so many years ago? There’s also cheese and the mentioning of cows in the story and a man named Adam Shitebreath … what more do you need to solve the case.

The Vampire Lestrade

The title of this case is promising and when Watson receives a message from Holmes, to accompany him to Transylvania, he is only too happy. ‘Bring Mary’  said the message and due to the fact that said name belongs to Mrs Watson, Watson drags her along. Alas, Holmes meant his owl Mary, but it’s too late now and so the three of them are on their way to count Alucard’s castle in Transylvania. And no, Count Alucard has nothing to do with the vampire Dracula, on the contrary, he is a sound man of British origin, who has been living in London. It seems the count has received death-threats and wants Holmes to investigate.

Had Watson brought the ‘stakes’ as Holmes asked instead of all sorts of steaks, perhaps this story would have ended quite differently. On the other hand, had Watson brought the owl Mary, as requested, this tale would perhaps never have survived Transylvania and we, the readers, would not have had the privilege of reading Watson’s accounts of Count Alucard and the hunt for vampires.

My Thoughts

All three of the detective stories in this fascinating novel are enjoyable and such a pleasure to read. The plotline is mixed with that typical dry British humour – which makes Colin Garrow’s second volume of ‘The Watson Letters’ a very entertaining read!

About the Author

Colin Garrow Author Image

Colin Garrow grew up on Northumberland and is currently living in Scotland. You can better ask which jobs he didn’t do because there are too many to mention: taxi driver, antique dealer, drama facilitator …  He writes novels, stories, poems and the occasional song. The first in the series of ‘The Watson Letters’ is: ‘The Watson Letters: Volume 1: Something Wicker This Way Comes (March, 2016). Here you can fully explore the world of ‘The Watson Letters

 Book Info

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 Paperback   144 pages
 Publisher   CreateSpace (10 July 2016)
 Language   English
 ISBN-10  153532760X
 ISBN-13   978-1535327602

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