“This novel re-imagines Dr. Watson’s marriage to the ill-fated Mary Morstan, after their daughter (also Mary) confronts her aging, absent father with her mother’s long-lost diary. Hamish Crawford creates a pair of sympathetic heroines and offers an original perspective on a period that is undoubtedly the apex of the Canon. Yet, it is difficult to know whom he considers “the best and wisest man” referred to in the title. Mrs. Hudson’s comment that Holmes and Watson ought to “have married each other” summarizes Crawford’s thesis. Hitherto one of the most consistently loyal characters in literature, here the doctor vacillates between his marital responsibilities and his passion for adventure. Toward Mary, he is alternately loving and neglectful, with ultimately dire results. Determined to do better with his second family, he eventually deserts Holmes altogether. Such psychological undercurrents were always implicit in Watson’s relationships with Holmes and Mary, and Crawford’s interpretation provides some fascinating insights. The result, however, is that his characters’ conduct is often bafflingly inconsistent. While nicely written overall, the book is marred by modernisms (as when Mary describes her husband as “gung-ho”). Despite its minor flaws, The Best and Wisest Man remains a touching, thought-provoking novel. I recommend it both as a worthy addition to Sherlockian literature and as a meditation on the perils of marriage for a man of action.”
Reviewed by Thomas A. Turley, author of ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Tainted Canister’
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