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Review: The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes: The Sherlockian Artwork of Normal Schatell

We’ve just tipped over into July, but I have one more Happy June reading review to share!

It must be obvious to the meanest intelligence by now that I am – and have for a long time been – a devotee of Sherlock Holmes, the best and wisest London detective I have ever known, who is also “the most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather”. I’m equally fond of his good friend, Doctor John Watson, who claimed to have a wandering wound, shaken nerves and a tendency to be up at ungodly hours.

Sharing my fascination and affection with these fellows who seem to fit in every time and place is the late Norman Schatell, whose Sherlockian cartoons are collected in this entertaining little volume from MX Publishing.

Normal Schatell was a very active part of Holmesian fandom throughout the 70s until his  death in 1980. His sketches in this book are not always crisp and clean – many are lightning panels he was as likely to draw on envelopes as to prepare for print – but they are all charming and cheeky. Some of the best have a subtlety that deeper knowledge of the stories rewards, and I often found myself laughing away to myself as the penny dropped.

Not content simply to draw cartoons, a portion of the book showcases Schatell’s witty and imaginative “Impractical Arts and Crafts” with ideas and designs for items like The Very Kinetic Holmes Marionette, a working model of the Great Grimpen Mire and the Eddie Rucastle Roach Stomper.

Schatell even created a series of ‘folk art Holmeses’, with the very recognisable figure rendered in the styles of Central African, Iranian, Mexican and even Egyptian statues and carvings, before rounding off the collection with some of those envelope-sketches mentioned earlier.

The only down side of the book is that Schatell’s handwriting has been reproduced, as-is, to describe some of the cartoons – and sometimes the writing is cramped and messy and very difficult to read, which is a shame. A larger reproduction or retyping the text might have helped those of us who are a bit more myopic than the Great Detective.

Nevertheless, the cartoons usually speak for themselves and the whole thing is enormously fun.

Buy The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes


2015: A Reading Restrospective

Screenshot 2016-01-06 09.50.56I really like Goodreads. I love keeping track of the books I’ve read (and reread) just for my own interest.

My stats this year say this is the most books I’ve read in  a year since starting to keep track – 63! Looks impressive, and I’m pleased to see it’s a good mix of classic and contemporary work, reading in crime, romance, horror, fantasy, humour and graphic novels.

Twenty-nine of the books were written or edited by women. Of the books by blokes, most were either by PG Wodehouse, Arthur Conan Doyle or the comic book team of Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum, the guys behind Unshelved, a comic set in a public library. (I read 10 of their collected editions, having backed the digital publication of same in a Kickstarter.) And not to be too wedded to binary genders, I’ve added a lot of new writers to my lists this year, particularly in the anthologies I’ve read.

Highlights of the reading year

blackbirdsI seem to either have good luck in the books I choose to read, or I’m very easy to please, as I thoroughly enjoyed most of my reading this year.

I have my favourites of course, the cream on top of the creme de la creme: Treasure Island, which I read for the first time ever, and PG Wodehouse’s hilarious and extremely unreliable memoir, Bring on the Girls, co-written with Guy Bolton. A Pride of Poppies, an anthology of queer love stories set in WWI, was beautiful and touching and sometimes funny and sometimes so sad and all of it was amazing.

In non-fiction, I loved Ruth Goodman’s How To Be a Victorian for its insights, as I’ve been writing a book set in the era. I also finally got around to Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments, a book about the Milgram obedience experiments by Gina Perry, which I picked up years ago at Clunes Book Week. It uncovers the circumstances behind the experiments, how they led to stricter ethical guidelines for psychology studies and how they don’t really teach us anything that we’re told they teach us.

In crime, Livia Day’s The Blackmail Blend is a terrific short story and I must read the novels in the series, and Emma Viskic promises to be a great new Australian crimewriting talent with Resurrection Bay and her deaf protagonist, Caleb. I also loved Alison Goodman’s A New Kind of Death, an SF/crime hybrid, and I aim to read more of her work too.

I also finally read a Chuck Wendig novel, Blackbirds, and found it as profane and funny as I find his excellent blog, Terrible Minds. I’m looking forward to more of his work (I have three on the Kindle for 2016!)

The Day/Night They Met

nightAnd two of my very favourite books of the year? Companion pieces by the same author, Wendy C Fries. In Sherlock Holmes and John Watson – The Day They Met, Fries gives 50 new ways for the famous friends to have met for the first time, across eras from the Victorian to the modern day.

Writing as Atlin Merrick, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night They Met the same author gives us 19 ways those two men met and fell in love. It’s the first Holmes/Watson romance to  come out of Improbable Press, and it’s a marvellous start for a publisher that aims to celebrate queer readings of the Holmes-and-Watson legend.

How else was my reading year broken up?

Twelfth Planet Press

cherryAmong the books by Australian women, I read the final three collections in the Twelve Planets series, Secret Lives of Books by Rosaleen Love, The Female Factory by Angela Slatter and Lisa L Hannett and Cherry Crow Children by Deborah Kalin – all three showcasing remarkable talent in specfic and horror. Twelfth Planet Press always produces amazing books, and if you’ve missed this twelve-book series I recommend you hunt it down or get the books in digital format (including my own Showtime, number 5 in the series.)

The Classics

Adventures_of_sherlock_holmesAs part of my research for writing The Adventure of the Colonial Boy, a Holmes/Watson romance due out this year with Improbable Press, I reread the entire Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle, which is an education in going back to the source material.

The same could be said of my first-time reading of Treasure Island, which I’d only seen in screen versions before, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which I haven’t read since I was a kid. I also read a lot of PG Wodehouse, who is always a great comfort in times of stress, and finally a Jane Austen that wasn’t Pride and PrejudicePersuasion. (I began this year with Mansfield Park, which I didn’t particularly enjoy – I want to slap everyone in it. Do other people have this reaction?)

Forensics and True Crime

nutshellIn further pursuit of research for my Holmes/Watson novel, I also spent a lot of the year reading up about the history of forensics and other related non-fiction books, primarily The Nutshell Studies, The Science of Sherlock Holmes, the three volumes of The Century of the Detective by Jurgen Thorwald (The Marks of Cain about fingerprinting, Dead Men Tell Tales about forensic science and Proof of Poison about toxicology), now out of print – I was lucky enough to pick up two of them at Clunes and found the third on eBay.

I ended with A Very British Murder, by Lucy Worsley and based on her TV show about how murder became such a national obsession for the Brits.


poppiesI thought I’d read more romance this year, but perhaps it’s just that I have read a lot of books where romance is part of a crime plot or some other fusion. Besides Persuasion and the aforementioned The Night They Met, I also enjoyed the unconventional princess-in-the-tower story, Her Silent Oath by Julia Leijon, and some excellent queermance.

A Pride of Poppies, as also mentioned, was very moving, while Jane Elliot‘s Smoothie, an action-romance for a lesbian couple, was a lively read. Tyler Knoll’s Just for Fun by AB Gayle was just sheer silly-crazy fun.

How about you?

I hope your reading year was also filled with old favourites, new discoveries, unexpected knowledge and ideas to spark other reading or your own writing. Feel free to share your favourites in the comments!

Review: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson – The Day They Met by Wendy C Fries

thedaytheymetBefore I begin my review of this book, a few confessions.

I adore Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. I’ve confessed this before, so it’s probably not much to admit to here, but I’m naturally predisposed to look kindly on new Holmesian stories.

Wendy Fries is also a friend of mine, and I have loved her writing since I first read it. Her style is vivacious, funny and wickedly witty, and then she goes and stabs you right in the feels before kissing it better.  I find her work exciting in a similar (though not identical) way to the work of Mary Borsellino, of whom I have also waxed lyrical.

Fifty short stories is a lot to write, so Wendy asked people to throw prompts at her. I threw, she caught, she turned the prompt into something hilarious and perfect. I’m a bit delighted with the acknowlelgement in the back pages.

Those confessions being made, I neither embellish nor lie when I tell you how very much I loved this book, The Day They Met.

Produced by well-known Holmesian publisher, MX Publishing, these 50 short stories all retell the meeting of Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson, in different ways, in different times. (Because surely, such a great friendship, which has endured and flourished in the 128 years since their adventures were first published, would always have been destined to begin, somewhere, somewhen.)

Each short story is a little delight: tightly written yet painting very clear, incisive pictures of the two men (and what’s more, the supporting characters) as they meet for the first time.

Some stories are filled with humour – I was caught giggling on the tram to work more than once – and others with a very human insight into loneliness, courage, need and pain. Holmes and Watson were, in Conan Doyle’s original stories, two lonely men in search of a companion and purpose, and Fries evokes those hidden, driving needs extremely well, in between the deliciously outré crimes and their discovered shared sense of humour.

Fries has a background in writing non-fiction – in health, high tech and personal finance – which means the hints of crime and strange cases carry a flourish of intelligence and knowledge that add weight to the airiness with which they are scattered into the tales. Adding to that anchor of plausible cases and causes for meeting, we have Fries’ undeniable love of language, which can result in something playful becoming surprisingly heartfelt, and of course the reverse.

The tales roll trippingly off the page – they are very spritely indeed – and are full of sly and clever references to canon, whether set in the 19th century or the 21st.

If I’m willing to admit to a fault to The Day They Met – and I’m reluctant to do so – it probably lies with the reader: the impulse to gobble down 50 short, sharp, rich treats at once is both glorious and a bit overwhelming. Anybody who has eaten an entire box of fancy chocolatier chocolates at a sitting will know the feeling. (Not that I have done any such thing. No. Not at all. Move along, there’s nothing to see here. Tra la laaaaaa).

Luckily, unlike wee chocolate treats, a book can be re-consumed. The Day They Met is beautifully built for this. If you have an inhuman constitution that can resist the read-at-a-sitting impulse, you’ll enjoy dipping in and out of the book as the mood fits. If you’ve bolted the boxful already, well, you’ll have the pleasure of revisiting this tome of treats at leisure, perhaps taking your time to choose the flavour of your adventure.

Shall it be this vintage piece set in 1883 where they meet arguing over who has the rights to a hansom cab; or that tale of a man with PTSD who needs a clever, understanding man to short-circuit the terrors invoked by an intrusive tannoy? This 1886 glimpse of Holmes and Watson as children, or that 2008 introduction to Watson’s propensity for terrible titles. This bittersweet morsel, or that tangy observation, or perhaps this faintly bizarre one that appears to contain a couple of nuts?

Whether a lover of original canon or someone new to the Holmesian fold through BBC Sherlock, Fries’ range of stories has something to offer you. There’ll be adventure, laughter, courage and even the solution of bizarre and cruel crimes, in 50 bite-sized pieces.

And always and forever, there will be the Great Detective and his Boswell by the hearth at 221b Baker Street.

Buy The Day They Met

Find out more about Wendy at:

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at

The Lady Novelist Fangirls Out in Cardiff

fangirlWhen Tim and I were walking down to Cardiff Bay, on our way to the Doctor Who Experience, I said to him: “I’m getting my fangirl geek on for this.”

Tim laughed and laughed at that one. As if my fangirl geek wasn’t already on; wasn’t constantly on. It was a fair cop. I therefore declared that I was flicking dust from my fangirl geek cuffs, setting it hat at a raking angle and walking jauntily towards my date with Adventure! Or at least with the Doctor Who Experience!

I’ve wanted to go to the exhibition and interactive adventure ever since Tim saw it in London a while back and spoke so highly of it. Since then, it had moved to its permanent and purpose-built home in Cardiff, so of course we made time for it on our current Tour of Blighty. (We got in just in time – the Experience closes very shortly for an overhaul, and will reopen in October with a brand new Doctor and a whole new Experience!)

The exhibits are great, but it really is the interactive experience that makes this whole thing worth a visit (and the price of entry). Lighting effects, physical effects, atmospheric sets and effective soundscapes make for a fun and immersive activity – but as always with theatre (which it undoubtedly is) the key element is the participants’ own willing suspension of disbelief. As an adult it would be too easy to decide it’s all just smoke and mirrors (or lighting effects and sensaround) and not be impressed, but you won’t have any fun that way.

DWE 1Instead, I let a lifetime of being spooked by threatening creatures; feeling excited by the appearance of the TARDIS; and yearning to be a companion for just one adventure carry the moment.

I managed to in fact spook myself and duck once or twice and have a rip-roaring good time. If you missed the Matt Smith version, I’m sure the upcoming Peter Capaldi adventure will be just as good. And if you saw this version – now you have an excuse to come back!

The static exhibition will no doubt have more costumes and props to display as well.

But Cardiff has more for the fangirl and boy than the Doctor Who Experience. There’s also a semi-official memorial to a fictional character, and a castle that plays supporting roles in show.

The Ianto Jones Shrine sprang up after that character met his sad fate in the third season of Torchwood. I wasn’t a fan of the first two seasons of the show, but I thought the third was excellent SF (and it had Capaldi in it, huzzah!) but Ianto’s death was sad very effecting. It certainly seems to have made an impact on his fans, who started an impromptu shrine on the boardwalk by Cardiff Bay. It became such a big thing that the local authorities finally erected a permanent plaque about the shrine to a fictional character.

IMG_6039One theme that popped up in several of the letters and notes attached to the grating of the wall was the notion that he did not pass a ‘blip in time’. One item hung on the grate was in memory of a woman who wasn’t able to get to Cardiff in person due to ill health and passed away – her friends leaving a note to her that ‘you aren’t just a blip in time to us, either’.

I’m sure there are essays out there exploring more of why this character and his death affected so many, but I think that speech of his touched a nerve. Perhaps most of us will pass without having made any major impact on history or broader life, but perhaps we want to know that we mattered more than passingly to those we loved.

Memory does endure, though, especially if any of the exhbitions and articles about Great War I’ve been exploring are any indication. Loss leaves a hole, and though it may stop bleeding and may heal over with a scar, there will often be that mark, that absence of a person who should have been there, a hole in the fabric of broader lives… and I’m getting too philosophical maybe, after an afternoon spent at the Imperial War Museum, but anyway. A human response to the loss of a single fictional character is a sort of dress rehearsal for other losses, and none of those lost are blips. They always leave spaces in personal histories and individual hearts.

After reflecting on death and loss and people both real and invented, I spent part of the next day at Cardiff Castle. With BBC Wales based in Cardiff, it’s no wonder that the Castle is used as a location in many shows shot here – including two of my favourites, Dr Who and Sherlock.The Castle even offers a film location tour on this aspect of the site.

IMG_6319Having said that, though, I wasn’t all squeeful about spotting TV locations around the castle, because I am separately a fan of castles in their own right. Castles are neat! Castles are filled with layers of history, and layers of imagination. Castles weren’t always used for fortification, or at least not only for fortification. They have pasts full of luxury and leisure as well as warlike stances and defensive bristling.

Cardiff Castle, for example, has roots down to the Roman era; it has a Norman keep. The main living quarters are all faux-medieval having been done up in the 19th Century as Gothic Revival; and in the 20th Century it was opened to locals as a bomb shelter during WWII.

attack beaversElements of the Gothic Revival decorations entertained me the most, though. Oh, our Victorian era brethren, how you loved to make stuff up and then pass it off as tradition! You sure made a mess for the lovers of historical accuracy, but as a storyteller, I can’t help but to think you delightful for your crazy. (Speaking of which, I love the Attack Beavers depicted on the rooftop water fountain. They look like their fish are loaded and they are not afraid to use ’em.)

Discussing this with Tim, we wondered whether that Victoria habit of making up ‘traditional’ legends and traditions was a reaction to industrialisation; and whether our modern habit of being all retro hip with 19th Century hipster beards and 1950s Betty Page hair-dos and cupcakes is a similar treasure-the-past reaction to contemporary anxiety about constant connectivity, climate change and fear of surveillance through the smart devices to which we are so addicted.

IMG_6309Or, you know, maybe we just think the hair is cool.

Finally, I leave you with a giant and rather cranky owl who squawked a lot and glared with his giant golden eyes because he wanted his dinner RIGHT NOW. He was like a giant feathered cat.

The castle falconer had a number of birds out for us to see. The white barn owl made me think of Hedwig (and that always makes me weepy) and there was a tiny wee owl called Pocket who of course made me think of the Weasley’s owl, Errol, only Pocket was more sprightly and even cuter.

So. Cardiff. A fangirl’s delight. I recommend it. 

Thank you to Visit Britain and Visit Wales for hosting us.

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at

Truths of Sherlock Holmes (Part 1)

Sherlock Holmes has taught me many things. For a start, that fictional source material is often better than the version of it you’ve seen on the telly; but also that some TV creators do understand the source material and do a brilliant job of recreating it for the small screen, as discussed in my previous post.

But there are other, more practical truths that travel writer Tim Richards and I have learned in decades of studying the great detective and his methods.

Here’s a dozen of them, with references to stories which you can read via this link to Project Gutenberg. No, really, it’s our pleasure.

  1. Never trust a colonel. Unless they own a racehorse. Then it’s okay to simply not like him. We don’t know how well this one applies to life, but we’re always wary when there’s a colonel in the offing.
    (See Silver Blaze, The Bruce-Partington Plans, The Empty House)
  2. If a family member has a secret past they won’t talk about (especially if they’re from America) – it will end in tears.  The basic rule for life being it’s best to be honest with those you love, especially if your secrets might bring them harm.
    (See The Dancing Men, The Five Orange Pips, The Yellow Face)
  3. If a stranger makes a job offer or a bid on your house/property that is far too good to be true – it is. What’s more, your life may be in danger. At the very least, they’re trying to steal something from the bank over the road. Time has not dimmed the truth that you should be very wary of something that seems too good to be true (especially if the offer is coming from an exiled Nigerian prince).
    (See The Three Gables, The Copper Beeches, The Red-Headed League)
  4. You can tell a lot about a person by their hat. Or by their accessories in general. It’s probably not as easy these days, but we remain fascinated by the idea that a person’s dress and accoutrements can tell you as much about them as the way they speak and what they say.
    (See especially The Blue Carbuncle for Holmes’ masterful study of a hat, culminating in the deduction that a man’s wife has ceased to love him)
  5. Never be too impressed by someone’s high station in life or their charming manners. “The most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money, and the most repellent man of my acquaintance is a philanthropist who has spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the London poor.” – Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of Four. Conan Doyle and Holmes both knew that while people love stereotypes, they get in the way of discovering the truth. Holmes was always disdainful of class in that sense.
    (See A Study in Scarlet, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Bruce-Partington Plans.)
  6. Brandy is a miracle cure-all. It’s astonishing how often Conan Doyle has brandy administered to someone who’s had a shock. But sometimes all you need is a good stiff drink and a minute to collect yourself, before you’re right to go again. We could do with a spot of it now.
    (See The Greek Interpreter, where brandy brings a man back from the brink of death by sulphur poisoning. Amazing stuff, brandy.)

For the remaining six truths (and a bonus 13th), click here to read the second part on Tim’s travel blog Aerohaveno.

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, iPhone apps, public speaking and other activities at

An elementary love affair

Rivalry by essmaa (Deviantart)

Television can be a great motivator of literary good. It was the Hugh Laurie/Stephen Fry series Jeeves and Wooster that took me to PG Wodehouse (to my everlasting gratitude) and it was Jeremy Brett’s turn as Sherlock Holmes in the 80s that brought me to the pages of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Of course, I knew of Sherlock Holmes long before the Granada series was made. Holmes had been a pop culture fixture since the late 1800s after all. He was surely the first ‘show’ revived after nominal ‘cancellation’ (ACD killed him off in The Final Problem because he wanted to write serious fiction) partly because of passionate activity from fans. (This was probably also an early example of ‘if there isn’t a body, we won’t believe he’s dead!’)

But the Holmes and Watson I knew from popular culture were a bland pair. Holmes was an avuncular smart arse, hanging around with his stupid friend. I couldn’t think well of a man who kept an idiot in tow just to make himself look smarter. He was tame, he was predictable, he was, to borrow a phrase, BORING.

But the Granada series opened my eyes to something new, because David Burke’s Dr John Watson was a fit, reasonably intelligent everyman to Jeremy Brett’s acid, snarky, biting Sherlock Holmes and the combination was fresh and exciting. Watson’s warmth and Holmes’s coolness worked well, and their friendship was expressed in so many unspoken ways. When Edward Hardwick later took on the role of Watson, the elements of their long friendship became more delightfully explored in actions and expressions rather than words.

Curious, I turned to the stories and found that snark (on both sides), acid wit, outrageous manners, Watson not putting up with all of Holmes’s crap and Holmes actually appreciating Watson’s qualities as a friend and partner-in-shenanigans weren’t invented for the show. It was all canon!

What was more interesting was how much smarter Watson was in the books than he usually appeared on screen. As narrator, he often made a good number of deductions (especially in later stories, having been trained in Holmes’s methods) though Holmes’s genius was always required for the bigger leaps. He was braver and more physically capable than he had frequently been depicted too. But, as the storyteller, his job was to shine a light on the genius of Sherlock Holmes – so much so that even the readers seemed to forget that Watson actually did so much more as Holmes’s right-hand man than ask questions and make incorrect deductions.

For a law abiding citizen and former soldier of the realm, John Watson partook in a surprising amount of larcenous activity for the sake of justice, or at least because his best friend asked him to. On at least one occasion, he insisted on accompanying Holmes on a spot of house-breaking, threatening to report Holmes to the police rather than let him tackle the villain on his own.

What’s that line about best friends? They not only know where the bodies are hidden: they helped you bury them? In canon, Watson never had to help Holmes bury a body, but you know darned well his first question would probably have been ‘how deep?’.

And for his part, Sherlock Holmes wasn’t just a rather bright and slightly arrogant toff. No. He was mecurial, brilliant, unpredictable, as likely to forget the social niceties as to be unexpectedly kind. He was an uncomfortable, not always likeable man, whose admirable qualities were best seen through the eyes of his not-quite-conventional friend. But Holmes was someone to admire, if not always to like, and the fact that he liked John Watson softened some of his sharper edges.

The pair of them were bohemians, looking for the outre, the strange, the grotesque in life, and not worrying much about what might be considered ‘normal’.

I have since read every one of the ACD stories multiple times. They, like Wodehouse, are my literary comfort food. I generally delight in variations on canon now, as long as there is some nod to the core of what is enduring and endearing about the original material: the cleverness of the mysteries, the sharp and unsentimental characterisation, and the epic friendship of these two very different men.

The latest BBC series, Sherlock, set in modern London, is a fine addition to the celluloid interpretation of the Holmes books, and you can tell it’s made by people who love the original stories. The series is full of little references and nods to the stories, and it maintains the heart of what appeals to me about them.

I love that John Watson admires but is not intimidated by Sherlock’s intellect: that he is confident enough in himself that he doesn’t have to feel belittled by the great detective’s insights. I love that he calls Sherlock on his crap, and that Sherlock is delighted that somebody calls him an idiot, because he can be, about some things.

I love that Sherlock is driven and socially awkward and struggles to become more human just as John works to become more analytical, the two balancing so well, playing off and learning from each other. I love the cleverness of the mysteries, of course, but above all I love the story of this amazing friendship.

I know that Sherlock is sending people back to the original stories in the same way that the Brett series once did for me. Actually, it’s exciting and a bit strange to find people who’ve never read them before and I find myself trying not to give spoilers for stories first published over a hundred years ago!

I remember my first time reading some of those (and many other) stories. The joy of encountering something for the very first time and not knowing how it ends, and reading until 3 in the morning because you just have to know how it ends! And it doesn’t matter if that story was written last month or four hundred years ago. Everyone has their first time encountering a classic; it’s a joy and a delight if you can encounter it fresh, just as the first readers would have done.

And there’s delight in discovering the source material for things you think  you know, and discovering how much better, fresher, more thrilling and so much more amazing those stories can be than the sometimes watered-down, domesticated versions we get later.

Thank you, Jeremy Brett, for driving me to one of the eternal loves of my life: the original Sherlock Holmes. Thank you BBC Sherlock for giving my love affair with Baker Street a whole new series to take to heart.

Next post: the top twelve things Tim and I have learned from Sherlock Holmes.

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, iPhone apps, public speaking and other activities at