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Book Review: The Secret Journal of Dr. Watson

The Secret Journal of Dr. Watson

By Phil Growick

Upcoming publication The Secret Journal of Dr. Watson takes Sherlock Holmes and his Boswell on an adventure to Russia during the Bolshevik revolution, putting them in contact with historical and fictional figures alike as they pursue the rescue of the Romanovs. Danger stalks them at every turn, and they are constantly confronted with their own mortality and the need for the detective’s mind to be at its most keen.

Growick takes the traditional approach of using Watson’s voice, conveyed in daily journal entries. This technique is effective, and the Holmes and Watson encountered by the reader are canonical and engaging. The book bears the official Conan Doyle estate seal with good reason; the quality of its research and writing are impressive.

History buffs will be particularly intrigued by the layered and fascinating explanation of the complexities of the Russian revolutionary situation, but those just looking for an enjoyable read will find themselves far from bored. Growick strikes an enjoyable balance between historical believability and fast-paced action.

Most of the Doylean stories keep Holmes and Watson close to home, putting them in London-based contexts or in the surrounding English countryside. Growick’s novel, with its more exotic and high-stakes setting, fits neatly with the later stories, those that place Holmes in retirement and beyond.

The Secret Journal of Dr. Watson is mysterious, intriguing, and fun, a chilling and thought-provoking exploration of a period of Russian history that engenders a great deal of speculation. Of course, we know that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson never actually went to Ekaterinburg to find the Romanovs. Or do we? Phil Growick’s excellent novel will make you believe they did.

A copy of The Secret Journal of Dr. Watson  was provided for consideration by MX Publishing.

Amy Thomas is a book reviewer, freelance essayist, and author of The Detective and The Woman mystery novel series featuring Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, published by MX Publishing. She holds a degree in professional communication and is an avid knitter, geek, and grammar nerd. Amy blogs about Sherlock Holmes at and can be reached for professional enquiries at Connect with her on Twitter @Pickwick12. Email her at

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