Many moons ago, in a more innocent time when the world was young and carefree, I reviewed The Day They Met—a series of short stories about the day (the many days) that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson met. Because they did, they do and they will, and in every which way throughout time and space.
There was, however, one terrible dastardly thing about this book—it ended. How unutterably rude. Of course, all books must come to an end so I cannot fault it for doing so but still, the cheek. The impertinence, I say!
So colour me all sorts of bright and cheerful hues when The Night They Met was released. Oh yes, my pretties, they’re back—John Watson and ‘Herlock Sholmes’… I mean, Hemlock Shromes… I mean… oh, you know who I mean. The sun may have set, dear reader, but the temperature is about to rise.
The Night They Met—as with its daytime companion—deals with the inevitability of this most famous of meetings. Only this time, under the cover of night, in the bosom of Selene, there is a little more oxytocin in the air.
There was not a single story that didn’t warm the cockles of my cold, dead heart. Each ending invariably drew from me a noise that I can only approximate by getting you, dear reader, to imagine whichever of these speaks to you the most: kittens hugging other kittens; puppy paws; small animals with large eyes blinking sleepily; rainbows; big dogs showing little dogs how to descend stairs, etcetera. You get the picture.
Atlin Merrick foxtrots with language and the results are witty and stylish nuggets of joy. The stories are in turns, wonderfully cheeky (who hasn’t used the size and shape of a Mallard duck penis in conversation?); poignantly sweet (meeting as children lost in Waterloo station—aw!, exchanging war-time letters from afar—gah!); and damn funny (I near spit my tea upon a stranger on public transport at the line “clenched his arse cheeks so hard he did his prostate a mischief”). They are also joyfully* sexy (there’s snogging on conference tables, tightly-laced corsets, hand-feeding, and a few tantalising glimpses of future shenanigans).
If this sort of take on the relationship between Holmes and Watson is new to you and you are filled with trepidation and fear, do not fret, dearest one. This is a gentle introduction. You’ll be fine. They’ll be fine. It’s all fine. The world will not cease its journey around the sun, the heavens shall not fall.
Because here’s the thing about Watson and Holmes:
John Watson is almost always war-scarred, almost always too brave for his own good, and almost always in need of a Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes is almost always a genius, almost always a damned fool and almost always in need of a John Watson.
The universe will always intervene. John and Sherlock will keep meeting and meeting, always. It is the essential moment when, and I can put it no better than Atlin Merrick herself, “each man’s me [becomes] a legendary we”, and lucky us get to witness it re-imagined once again.
Finally, before I scurry back into the depths of the internet, the profits from The Night They Met go to the It Gets Better Project, a supportive resource for young people of diverse sexuality and gender (DSG). If you want to find out more, here is the link to the Australia/New Zealand affiliate.
*If you think I’m going to apologise for overusing adverbs, you and I are going to have a problem.