Lawler, W.P. Mystery at Saint Andrews. London: MX Publishing, 2013 Author Interview

Note: This interview was originally published on 31 January, 2017.  However, when I went to post a new entry, I found that this was unaccountably missing. I am therefore re-posting it and, well, I guess we’ll see what happens!


Q:  How did you “meet” Sherlock Holmes?

 A: Like many people, I first came across the extraordinary Sherlock Holmes in school. We read Doyle’s “The Speckled Band.”

Q:    What is your favorite Canon story and why?

A: I would have to say “A Scandal in Bohemia.” I was truly captivated by Irene Adler and the clever storyline.  The Hound of the Baskervilles also merits consideration.  I read it on a yearly basis!

Q: What is your favorite Sherlock Holmes pastiche and why?

  A:  (Aside from my own….ha-ha)  I enjoyed reading David Marcum’s short stories.  I feel that he has done a very commendable job in his portrayals of Holmes and Watson in all of his writings.

Q: What is your favorite movie or television portrayal of Holmes and Watson, and why? Were you inspired by any particular one of them?

 A:  My favorite Holmes will always be Jeremy Brett. He is always in my mind’s eye as Sherlock.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?

  A: I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a storyteller.  I’m a retired elementary teacher who loves “words.”  I’ve previously written two golf books, self-published, which consist of many tournament experiences and funny encounters I’ve had playing that infernal sport! As far as my first effort at composing a novel, I suppose that having read and re-read all of the Canon, I decided to try to write a pastiche myself.

Q: Why did you decide you wanted to write about Sherlock Holmes?

  A: That was easy.  I’ve loved reading and watching Holmes and Watson stories all of my life!

Q: What inspired you to write this particular book?

   A: Loving the Canon and the game of golf, I thought it might be fun to try to combine the two just to see what might happen.

Q:  Where did you get the idea for this book?

 A:   I’m not sure, but as previously mentioned I have always loved Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes adventures and have a deep appreciation and love for the game of golf.  Perhaps, it was because golf can be most addicting, much like the chemicals Holmes chose to use from time to time…

Q: How would you categorize your book? Is it mystery, thriller, horror, romance…?

  A:  Definitely a mystery…..

Q: Can you provide a brief synopsis of your book?

 A:  The story takes place during the “Great Hiatus.” Watson is visiting the quaint old village of St Andrews in 1894 on a much-needed holiday.  Still saddened by the loss of his good friend and companion, Sherlock Holmes, he seeks to put his life back in order.  Believing that some golf on the famous “Old Course” might just be the tonic that is needed, travels to the Kingdom of Fife and the Royal Hotel to test his theory.

While there he meets a former adversary(Irene Norton) who can use his sage counsel. Willingly, he agrees to help in all ways possible….There are some twists and turns along the way that serve to challenge the reader’s ability to solve the mystery.


St. Andrew’s, Scotland, as Watson would have seen it in 1894.

Q:   How closely does your book hew to canon? Why or why not? Was this a conscious decision, or did it just happen?

A: I believe it fits nicely into the missing years and, yes, it was a conscious effort to adhere to the Canon.

Q: Are you using Watson as a narrator?  Why or why not? If so, did you find it difficult to mimic his voice? Did you use any particular “tricks”?

  A: Due to the plotline that I chose to employ, the second half of the book is where the “familiar” Watson  begins to tell his side of the story.  The first half of the book is written from the omniscient perspective.

As far as portraying Watson’s voice is concerned, I believe I actually did a creditable job…

Q: What did you most enjoy about writing your book?

  A: Just about everything. Researching the timeline, trying to stick to Doyle’s descriptions of Holmes and Watson, making every effort possible to try to write in the wonderful manner of ACD….

Q: What was the hardest part about writing your book?

  A: Anxiety, I suppose. I was so eager to put the story in print, I kept coming up with other ideas that had to be reined in…

Q: Did your book require a lot of research? If so, did you uncover any especially interesting facts?

 A:  I spent a great deal of time perusing many of the books which described golf on the fabled course of St Andrews and the history of the town.  I did discover that originally there were only 13 Rules of Golf as established by the Honourble Company of Edinburgh Golfers, as opposed to the many, many rules that now overcomplicate the game these days.


And here they are!

Q: What is your favorite moment in this book?

  A: My own favorite moment occurs in the last chapter, where all is revealed to Watson.

Q: Who is your favorite character in this book?

  A: My favorite character is Charles Hutchings, known in the story as “The Quiet One”.

Q: Did you find that using Conan Doyle’s characters made this story easier or more difficult to write?

  A: Interesting question….Being so familiar with Doyle’s depictions of the main characters made it easy to write.  On the other hand, I found it most challenging to properly do them justice in my portrayals.

Q: Did you include any original characters? Can you describe them for us?

  A: Well, I created a character named Andy Kirk who plays a major role in the first half of the book.  He was a kind-hearted, cooper who befriended “the Quiet One” when others were very critical of that man. There were some other characters, locals, who played important roles, as well.


W.P. Lawler (The Author)

Q: Do you have a particular writing process? Would you like to share it with us?

 A:  Lots of brain-storming of ideas, plots, locations…. I then create a story timeline and try to follow it carefully..

Q: What is your writing philosophy?

 A:  Hmm…Everyone has stories to tell. Whether it’s a person’s life story or even some peculiar happening that they’ve enjoyed or witnessed, it will appeal to someone…

Q: Any advice for aspiring writers?

   A: I guess that my suggestion would be to write “something”every day….even if it’s only a paragraph. Make multiple copies and don’t be afraid to “edit” (make that CUT) wherever necessary!

Q: How did you feel when you first saw your book–in actual book form?

   A: Great joy….Pride…..Happiness that the work had been completed!!!!

Q: Are you involved in any Sherlockian groups?

A: Not actively, although I follow Hounds of the Internet and The Well-Read Sherlockian on-line.

Q: Can you share some of the reviews you’ve received for this book? 

  A: My book, Mystery at St Andrews, was originally self-published, but MX Publishing found it interesting enough to publish it.  I was truly touched that such a fine company chose to do so.  I have to admit that I did not make any major effort at promoting my work and so, there were not many reviews.  However, Philip K. Jones and Raven were kind enough to review and comment on my work.  You can find these reviews on

(WRS note: Both Philip K. Jones and Raven are prominent  and prolific Sherlockian reviewers on Amazon)

Q: What sort of reader is most likely to enjoy your book?

   A: Most people who like Doyle’s characterizations of Holmes and Watson will appreciate the book.  However, if I had to select a particular group, I would have to say people who love ACD, the game of golf and twists and turns….

Q: Where can readers get a copy of your book?

  A: It is available on Amazon as well as Audible.  The audible version of Mystery at St Andrews was extremely well done by David Collins. Really a hoot to listen to his rendition!

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Changes are Afoot with a New Review Policy!

So many books, so little time....

                 So many books, so little time….


When I first started this blog, I was very ambitious. I honestly thought that I could, in a few decades, read and review every Sherlock Holmes pastiche out there–at least, that was the goal. The very next year, however, thanks to the Robert Downey, Jr. movie and the arrival of BBC’s Sherlock, there was a veritable explosion of new Holmes books, and I came to realize that there was no way I could ever read them all, so I revised my goals: I would introduce my readers to new authors, celebrated classics–and the occasional oddball story. I had fun with this, but it wasn’t long before the demands of family and my own writing life started to make writing reviews as thoroughly as I like, less and less achievable. For the past few years, I’ve barely been able to put up more than two, if that. Review requests have gone unanswered as I try to cover, at least, books from larger markets, which is truly unfair to those writers. I love my blog, and I want other writers, no matter who their publishers, to have the same chances to find readers that I’ve been given.

So I’ve come up with a solution.

I may not be able to read your book, but who knows it better than you? I have included a list of interview questions at the link. If you would like your book to be featured on this blog, please read the review policy at the link. If you fit the criteria, select the interview questions you wish to answer, and send them to me, along with an image of your book (and an optional photo of yourself) at the email address provided. Please be sure you follow the guidelines. If I find that your book is not about Sherlock Holmes, or falls into the exceptional gore/explicit sex categories, I’ll delete the post. Featuring your book in this manner does not guarantee that I will review it–but I may at some point. It doesn’t constitute an endorsement of any kind, but you are free to share the link. It is my hope that in this way, you’ll be able to reach more readers, make more connections and, well, have more fun as an author. Because writing is super hard work–but it should be fun as well.

Here’s the link:


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5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day ?

Just kidding. I know what day it is.


Yes, it’s the 163rd birthday of Sherlock Holmes–that is, if you accept the January birthdate, which I do, as all the best people are born in January.

Normally, I would write something at least vaguely celebratory to acknowledge this, and bake a cake for my family. But today is different.  Today,  we are in New York City for my very first BSI Weekend. It’s been fun, but very busy and a little overwhelming,  hence the lateness of this post. Both today’s and tomorrow’s drawings will be delayed because I didn’t take my computer with me and I want to make sure I don’t miss anyone.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t announce today’s question and prize, however.

I did have a quote picked out for today,  but I’ve changed my  mind. Instead of choosing the quote, I’d like to hear from you:

What is your favorite Canon quote?

Just send your answer in via blog comment, Facebook PM, or Twitter DMX, and if your name is drawn,  this lovely volume will soon be headed your way…



Thank you all so much for making this year’s event fun and successful. Many Happy Returns of the Day!

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5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 13



I have many failures as a mother. More than I thought I would before I had a child, actually. I am not very organized. I forget lots of stuff. I could be very impatient with my kids when they were toddlers and preschoolers and I didn’t really how very small they were compared to my expectations. I am not the best cook or housekeeper, and I really, really hate driving around everywhere.

Also, I don’t like manga.


This is manga. One of a zillion.

Ok, it’s not like I actively dislike manga, I’m just not into it. I really can only handle one obsession at a time, and I am pretty sure we know which one I’ve chosen.

My daughter, on the other hand, adores manga. She adores Attack on Titan, Fairy Tale,  Ame and Yuki, and a whole host of others. It’s shaping her classwork, and her future plans. It is an important part of her universe, and she wants to share it with me, her mother.

But when she comes up to show me something, or tell me something else, I become, well, this man….


(Jabez Wilson of “The Red-headed League.” Definitely one of the dumbest of Holmes’ clients.

It all sounds like very fast talking, and I nod stupidly and say “uh-huh” a lot. I know I am not getting it right.

I’ve done it to people myself. A few years ago, we were in our hometown, and decided to attend services at the church we grew up in. I started talking to a man who was one of my parents’ friends, and said something about Sherlock Holmes. He said, “I like Sherlock Holmes,” and I was off to the races.  I could see his eyes glaze over, his attention wander, his feet shuffle as he longed to escape, but I Could. Not. Stop. It was embarrassing. Now, when people say they like Holmes, I just nod and smile.


Yes, I like Sherlock Holmes. Look! A cake!

Fortunately for my daughter, there’s an anime group at the library. They meet to watch films, discuss their favorite manga, and generally geek out with each other over snacks. She is always so excited when I pick her up. So very happy and enthusiastic. It’s so very important to be with your “tribe” sometimes.

I know I say this all the time, but I am a mom, and we moms repeat ourselves, but–if you love Sherlock Holmes–in any form–and you feel like you’re all alone out there,  afraid to share your mania because you’ve seen them nod and hear them say, “uh-huh” far too many times–if this is you–do yourself a huge favor and seek out a scion society in your area, or online. Every time I go to a meeting of the Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis, a conference like A Scintillation of Scions,  or talk on the phone with a Sherlockian friend, I come away feeling like I’ve just had a shot in the arm…NO, NOT THAT!…and life–all of it–seems that much brighter. No matter what you love about Sherlock Holmes, I promise you, someone else there shares it, and is waiting for the chance to find someone else to share it with. Here’s a link to get you started:

Perhaps young Dr. Percy Trevelyan might have done better for himself if he’d found his tribe–new physicians, just starting out, and some older ones, who’d made some mistakes and learned from them. Perhaps then he would not have fallen for a situation that was, in the end, too good to be true. You can read about it here, in Harper’s Weekly, August 12, 1893:


It starts on page 761:


It comes from the library of the Mechanics Association in Lowell, Massachusetts, but you won’t need to return it…..


…provided you identify this quote and win the drawing:

‘All is well that ends well,’ said Holmes. ‘But I certainly did not know that the Aurora was such a clipper.’

As always, send in your answers via blog comment, Facebook PM, or Twitter DM.  Again, everyone is eligible to participate, including previous winners!

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5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 12

Doing the Giveaway every year has had its challenges. Finding prizes, coming up with questions, remembering what day it is….


How in the world am I going to ship that chair?

Obviously I mess up quite a lot–you know–you’re here for it. But one thing I’ve tried to correct this year was the disturbing lack of Watson. He’s around, of course–in questions, writing the actual stories, etc., but most of our prizes have really been centered around Sherlock Holmes, or the stories. I can’t think of one that has belonged solely to John H. Watson, MD.

So I started to think of some options. If Nigel Bruce’s daughter would publish her father’s memoirs, that would be perfect (see link to some excerpts here:…but alas, that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon. I am fairly certain I cannot offer brandy, or a service revolver, and do you really want a portrait of Gordon or Beecher for your wall?


Henry Ward Beecher

I thought not.

So how about this?


This is a genuine walrus-leather medical bag. Unfortunately, as you can see, it didn’t belong to Dr. Watson, or even someone with the same initials (more’s the pity) but as Dr. Robert Katz, one of the editors of Nerve and Knowledge, suggested, it’s highly possible that, as he was just starting out, Watson didn’t have the money for a new bag, and so purchased a used one. Here, he’s getting a beautiful finish, and still has money left over for instruments. This is what you will tell your friends, family, and fellow Sherlockians. Everything else is between us.

This bag is American, not British; it was remarkably difficult to find antique physician bags on eBay UK, actually. Chances are, given the style and condition, it dates from the late 1910’s to the 1920’s, but I don’t know for sure. There is no key, but the latch works (there were interior shots on eBay which show a very clean lining in excellent shape, with instrument pockets). Unfortunately, I have not been able to open it myself, and would rather leave that to its new owner, than to try more vigorously and break it.

Here are a few more images:


Handles tend to show the most wear in these things, and these handles are in great condition for their age and use.


Kruse made quite a few physician bags in the early 20th century


Back view; latch strap shows wear

Hopefully, you’ll find this a fascinating piece, just perfect for your “curious collection.” If you do, and want a chance to win, tell me which part of Holmes’ statement here is the literary allusion, and what is he quoting?

Holmes gave a whistle of surprise. ‘You can write me down an ass this time, Watson,’ said he. ‘This was not the bird I was looking for.’


As always, send your answers in via blog comment, Facebook PM, or Twitter DM! Two days to go!



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5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 11


How did he get away with wearing white pants so much?

Ok, look away from the handsome man…look instead at his lovely bookshelves (as quite a few of you probably were, already). This is one thing that I think Holmes films occasionally get wrong (although there are exceptions, such as Guy Ritchie’s 221B, Peter Cushing’s and that of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes)–they simply don’t give Sherlock Holmes enough books! Even in Granada’s “The Adventure of the Redheaded League,” in the bookshop scene, Watson is the only one buying anything.  I’m sorry, but that just does not seem believable to me–unless the store sold only Russell Clark’s excellent sea stories.


I need this.

But, if props people don’t see fit to give Holmes the number of books I think we can assume he has, he has definitely inspired at least that number over the years, with every year bringing forth still more.  We will never be able to keep up, but we shall give it our best.

If your shelf has some unsightly gaps, or your floor has a blank space, you might want to try for this prize–a sort of mini-Sherlockian book club. Initially, the winner will receive this book: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s excellent and fun Mycroft Holmes:


Mycroft was young, once.

Towards the end of January (when it is released), the mailman will leave this on your porch:


Also fantastic.


And at the beginning of March, Lyndsay Faye will see you through the last of winter with this:


I’ve not read this one, but those who have say it’s amazing.

For your chance to be the sole member of this very short-lived book club, tell me of whom Watson is talking, and what book started him down such a tragic path….

The habit grew upon him, as I understand, from some foolish freak when he was at college; for having read De Quincey’s description of his dreams and sensations, he had drenched his tobacco with laudanum in an attempt to produce the same effects.

Happy research, and good luck!

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5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 10

Well, it’s after 9pm EST here, and dozens of people I know (and thousands I don’t) are currently watching the first episode of Sherlock, Season 4, on PBS.  I’m not, however. I am going to wait until the house is dark and quiet, and my son is no longer playing some odd arrangement of “Uptown Funk” on his clarinet, so that I can just absorb it. Hey, I’m an introvert. I need to think about things. I can’t really do that in a crowd of other fans. Or, you know, siblings arguing about who is eating all the popcorn, and the dog blocking my view because she wants me to pet her.


She’s a good dog.

So. Does that mean I am going to hide away from the internet, staying off of social media to avoid spoilers?  Nope. Not a bit. At the moment, I can’t think of a book, show, or movie that I felt has been “ruined” for me because someone blabbed about some crucial point. And since I tend to see things much later than other people, that has happened quite a lot. For me, sometimes knowing what it going to happen helps me appreciate the story more–I can catch all of the little hints and lead-ups. Everything makes more sense, and I am less likely to miss small, yet important, details that I might not remember when they matter. Of course, I feel that way about most things in life. Tell me what to expect. Explain the process. Give me the steps. Frankly, unless it involves a cash windfall (taxes paid) I’m not that fond of surprises. So that makes me wonder: how do you feel about spoilers? And do you find that it correlates with your personality in general? For example, if you really like spontaneity in life, are you more likely to resent spoilers than someone who needs to feel a certain amount of control?


“And how did that make you feel, Mr. Holmes?”


Today’s quote comes from a story in which, ultimately, Holmes decided not to completely “spoil” the solution for his client, although he did settle the matter for her. Can you tell me the case in which it appeared, and to whom it is originally attributed?

‘There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches delusion from a woman.’

In celebration of Sherlock‘s return, this is actually a three-part prize. There will be three winners. Again, please let me know which prize(s) you want, should your name be drawn. If you do not, you will not be entered.

These are all from the BBC shop. I will say that, while the scarf is pretty, it’s not at all heavy; it is NOT a true replica of Sherlock’s scarf.  All t-shirts are size L, which was the largest size they had available.  And the tote bag is made of a very thin cloth. It won’t work for school or shopping.


Prize 1: 2 t-shirts and cloth bag


Prize 2: John and Sherlock espresso cups; regular-sized Moriarty mug


Prize 3: small print, scarf, and book


Close-up of prize 3 scarf

As always, send your answers and prize choice(s) in via blog comment, Twitter DM, or Facebook PM.  And if you are getting tired of all of this Sherlock stuff, be patient! From now on, we get progressively more canonical!


Congratulations Hawkeye Brehm and Claudia Copada, who won the Gaiman and traditional games, respectively. The quote appears twice in the Canon, once in  “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, and another time in “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax.” It comes from Henry IV, Part 2.


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