OVER MY DEAD BODY
Dr Georgette Watson is frustrated. Her ground-breaking cryonics research has hit a brick wall. She has demonstrated that she can `bring back from the dead’ hamsters snap frozen for up to a month. Now she wants the chance to work with a human subject. That’s why she became interested in this discipline in the first place, to save the lives of people who seemed to have drowned or frozen to death. It’s personal with Georgette. When she was a teenager she plunged through ice on a frozen river and was dead for fourteen minutes before being revived. She never would have survived except for the efforts of her father, an NYPD cop. Now, twenty years on Georgette is a sometime consultant for the NYPD as a specialist in establishing time of death and this helps her make a living while she continues her research. Love hasn’t been too kind to Georgette either, she’s single and gun-shy after the latest relationship debacle.
When Georgette gets her hands on the journals of her great-great-grandfather John Watson she is suddenly given new hope. The journals reveal that back in 1891 John Watson lost a dear friend, frozen and drowned in a Swiss lake. He secretly kept the body frozen in a cavern and used all the smartest brains of the era to revive his dear friend but by the 1920s he had to give up. The body however, might have remained in situ this whole time speculates Georgette who travels to Switzerland, locates the anonymous friend’s body and brings it into New York City to her lab.
To her own amazement, Georgette revives the man who has lain inert for one hundred and thirty years. But that’s only half the shock. John Watson’s friend is a very special person.
The world’s most famous detective is now the world’s most famous living detective.
Back around 2000 I was writing a string of whodunnit novels featuring Andrew `The Lizard’ Zirk, a prematurely retired rock musician, who was aided and abetted by his chauffeur Fleur. While working up a pitch for a screenplay with these two I wrote something like `They are a modern-day Holmes and Watson, with a hint of URST between the two.’ As soon as I wrote it my brain pinged.
Lizard and Fleur were fun, but how fabulous if I could have Sherlock Holmes with a female Watson solving crime in NYC in the contemporary world (then 2001). And so, charged with this great idea I set out to write a film script that did just that. I did the first draft but thought maybe I should try it as a TV series. When I travelled to Los Angeles in 2005 and 2006 I pitched it a couple of times along with my other screenplays but never heard back from anybody. I was busy with other stuff but around 2010 I decided it was a project I had to do and set about making a concerted effort to get the film produced, only to discover not much later that among the plethora of Sherlock Holmes stories for film and TV was one featuring a female Watson, set in NYC in the current day. I was devastated and sulked for another five years before deciding that mine, now titled OVER MY DEAD BODY was different to all these others and just too good a story to pass up.
When I was about twelve my grandparents gave me a book, a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. I read them avidly. Of course, there will be some who will not like me coming within a bull’s roar of this most famous of detectives created by Arthur Conan Doyle but that doesn’t discourage me.
Over My Dead Body is a crime novel but it also seeks to explore our humanity. I note every day how much the world around me has changed, really in just the last fifteen years. To those like me born in the 1950s or before, some things are almost unrecognisable.
So, why not let me try and imagine Sherlock Holmes in this situation and explore the notions of love and death at the same time as laying down a wicked crime for him to solve. One of the climaxes takes place here.
Over My Dead Body is out end of September.
I would be grateful and honoured if you would give it a read. Order from your local bookstore, or a fabulous Australian institution like Abbey’s Books or grab it from Amazon, Booktopia, Bookbub, Apple Books and Kindle.
Or borrow it sometime from that most amazing institution: your local library.