The Case of the Silent Girl: A Dark Sherlock Holmes Story

Warning: Adult themes of same-sex relationships, bullying, sexual, physical, mental and emotional abuse, cultural abuse, incest, suicide, murder.

First of all, I have some damn good reasons for recommending this.

Stella is the cover artist for my three books:  YOU BUY BONES, TEST OF THE PROFESSIONALS (series in progress, Part 1 due in December), and THE MOON-CURSERS. If you can find someone with more talent and dedication to her craft, file them under “Lightning Strikes Twice.” You can find her work spread all over the globe; she’s that good. I’m very lucky she’s here for me.

Plot Summary:

This is the Hiatus between Sherlock Holmes’ staged death and his return. Dr. Watson is recently widowed, openly grieving, and looking for purpose in his rudderless life. Lestrade asks his help on a case in the country: A missing heiress, a properly worried father; a grieving mother and a matriarch who seems not to care.  The Silent Girl is a labor of love, intelligent, and full of horror. Stella’s skill with shade makes for a rich atmosphere with her unique style, which blends organic forms with antiquities.

This is actually the second printing of TSG, because the first was fast-sold out and inspired a new go.  Anyone who has seen the pages on cannot possibly be surprised at the popularity. As before, you can buy your own copy by contacting Stella:

Why You Should Buy This:

Holmesian characters in a same-sex relationship is not a new thing.  In fact, there were many years where if you wanted to read anything about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, the slash websites were the only place to go. We can offer up several ingredients for this situation (see bottom of page). What Stella does with The Silent Girl is acknowledge one of the tired old bugbears of slash fiction: That women characters are under-represented and little thought-of even though the majority of the slash writers are female or genderqueer (someone whose gender does not fit within society norms). She pulls this out of its closet and sticks it in the middle of the room. She turns the whole thing on its head by making the story all about The Silent Girl.  But which Silent Girl?  There are two–perhaps three if we look very hard–and their names are variations of the same: Charlotte and Lottie, which means “free man” in the feminine form.  Their ghastly stories and attempts to be free are hidden (or sheltered) by silence. One is freed by death and knowingly framing an innocent for her suicide. The other’s escape is far more ambiguous but ultimately hopeful.

This is all the more poignant and gut-wrenching because one of the long-entrenched motives for females writing M/M slash is because they feel safe. See Lady Geek Girl’s link at the bottom. There is a reason, folks, why only 10% of the writers on put their gender in their profiles!  See the article here. Misogyny and trolling takes its toll.

The three criminals are Apex Parasites. They move within the realm of respectability and wealth. They are admired for their status and feared for their power. They’ve lived on the peak for so long that humanity is for lesser beings, and they are not restricted to gender or age. All three are predators unique to their territories, all are terrifying. Watson and Lestrade have to find the layered truths of the crime individually and as a team–and each have to decide if the knowledge will strengthen or break them. They risk physical death and the deaths of their careers with exposure, and if they demonstrate too much emotion on the crimes around them they will be exposed. Singular nobility doesn’t work in this “Real World”, where a man cannot be brought down for his sexual deviancy all by himself. The courts and society’s paranoid hypocrisy are designed to bring down everyone around him. I say “man” because women are uncharacteristically safe from the Crimes Against the Persons Act, for Queen Victoria refused to believe lesbianism existed. Solving the crime means deciding how far one may take the law into one’s own hands. Hint: Stella used my creation of Lestrade as a Breton, and one does not lightly pick on Bretons. They don’t believe in the same Afterlife as you. Their Afterlife is all about Accountability.

The only one who can successfully fight the Apex Parasites is Mycroft Holmes, who could be every bit as devilish as they, but is not.  He is bone-lazy but not self-indulgent. It is a delicious bit of plot-twisting that while he can see and influence all the events around him, no one knows of his true powers–one gets the impression that Stella’s Mycroft would be bored at the notion of reaching out and taking what he wanted from people.

Mycroft’s own ability to manipulate the public’s fixed notions on gender is a true delight. If you like the idea of a victim turning the tables on a bully, you have definitely come to the right place. He is watching over both Watson and Lestrade, but from afar.  They have no idea he is prepared to protect them both, for knowledge of his umbrella would not only betray his secrecy, it would endanger their free will.

On the surface level, the most controversial element seems to be in centering the story around two of the main characters (Dr. Watson and Lestrade) in the traditional SH Canon and how they develop into a same-sex relationship.

But it isn’t.

It is all about gender, what it means in one’s relationships and career, personal identity and self-awareness is all interlaced in the pages.Is X a transvestite or a closet homosexual? Is X a common deviant or bi? Is power the motivation for the rapist?  It is fitting that Stella drew much inspiration from the Granada TV series, as it was the first one to openly explore gender identity’s relationship with society (and crime).  Jeremy Brett’s bisexuality was not an element of the show, but we recall his subtle compassion to those who fell victim to the Great Blackmailer’s larcenous abuse of gender expression. I remember seeing a few reactions to people who backed out of reading TSG online when they realized it could be one of ‘those stories’. Likewise, there are plenty of people who read and enjoyed the online pages, but they’ll hesitate to buy it or endorse it.

Which makes TSG great because honestly, there aren’t enough books out there to remind the reader that it is all about gender 90% of the time. Honestly, what they are isn’t the boldest bit about the story; it is what their world is.  She hits us right in the conventionals.

I have no idea if Stella intended this multi-layered attack on social conventions, but it would be just like her. There are those who do their research…and then there is Stella. English is not her first language and she works very hard to make herself clear and concise in dialog, with the auxiliary language of art running with the words. Once you stop being hypnotized by her compelling artwork you are left saddened and angry at the big ball of injustices, and you’re angry in a way that makes you want to DO something–

–and all you have to do is just be accepting of another’s gender.  That’s it.

This is also one of the few cases where a book doesn’t have the cliche’d ending.  For her, the TSG’s ‘closure’ is ensuring the story has moved forward, allowing the players to keep on going, unaware of the changes we see coming.

In closing, I’d like to offer one more link by Jarrah Hodges’ Fanfiction and Feminism:

“Fanfiction should be taken a bit more seriously.”

This may not be your thing.  But you could buy it and give it to someone who would draw strength and inspiration from it. I did.

Read the page (short but sweet) here. And again, email Stella for pricing here:


Some known factors in non-binary fan fiction:

  • The unquestioned dearth of well-crafted new adventures on the shelf (which may be facing a sea-change thanks to small companies like MX Publishing and Mocha Memoirs). For the first time in SH History, we are beginning to get a supermarket’s worth of new fiction that supports new writers.
  • Fan fiction writers were absolutely terrified at the witch-hunts enacted by writers such as Anne Rice, who weren’t satisfied to just tell fan writers to cease with legal action; some were harassed and trolled and infiltrated, and the line between ‘prosecuted’ cross over into ‘persecuted’ without clear lines of behavior. Many writers were young and exploring their own gender identity; in the forums they had a chance of meeting older, more experienced people who ‘spoke their language’ and found some all-too-rare non-judgmental camaraderie.
  • Overlooking 50 Shades of Gack, fan fiction was where a writer could develop their style and accept well-meaning criticism and reviews.  Sherlock Holmes was for a long time staffed by some of the most polite, considerate, and knowledgeable readers out there, and there was a global base. There was very little abuse compared to what else was out there. (The disturbing rise in non-com is a tale for another day).
  • Gender issues and emotionally identifying with written characters is far more sensitive a topic than you may think.  Take a look at Lady Geek Girl’s post, “Why Is There So Much Slash Fic?: Some Analysis of the AO3 Census” for some perspective.




Published in: on August 27, 2016 at 6:43 am  Leave a Comment  

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