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Dead Man's Land [Paperback]

Robert Ryan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.46 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

31 Dec 2012
Deep in the trenches of Flanders Fields, men are dying in their thousands every day. So one more death shouldn't be a surprise. But then a body turns up with bizarre injuries, and Sherlock Holmes' former sidekick Dr John Watson - unable to fight for his country due to injury but able to serve it through his medical expertise - finds his suspicions raised. The face has a blue-ish tinge, the jaw is clamped shut in a terrible rictus and the eyes are almost popping out of his head, as if the man had seen unimaginable horror. Something is terribly wrong. But this is just the beginning. Soon more bodies appear, and Watson must discover who is the killer in the trenches. Who can he trust? Who is the enemy? And can he find the perpetrator before he kills again? Surrounded by unimaginable carnage, amidst a conflict that's ripping the world apart, Watson must for once step out of the shadows and into the limelight if he's to solve the mystery behind the inexplicable deaths.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (31 Dec 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849839565
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849839563
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 401,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'Ever wondered what Dr John Watson got up to before the other guy turned up? This ambitious new novel (approved by Conan Doyle s estate) suggests he was patching up war heroes at the Front while hunting down a sinister killer behind enemy lines.' Time Out

'Not since Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks have I read a book that brings home to the reader the horrors of trench warfare...Ryan is an excellent story teller and this is a page turner that is believable as a Watson story. Dead Man s Land is a very cunning murder plot that will be appreciated by all lovers of crime thrillers. I enjoyed it immensely and recommend it to all Watson supporters. I hope that this will not be the last Watson/Holmes story that he writes' The Musgrave Sherlock Holmes Society --Time Out

About the Author

ROBERT RYAN is an author, journalist and screenwriter. He was born in Liverpool and moved to London to study natural sciences at university. He began his writing career in the late 1980s for The Face, Arena and the US edition of GQ, before moving to a staff job in the Sunday Times. In 1999, after the publication of his first novel, Underdogs, he left to go freelance, although he is still a frequent contributor to the newspaper. He has published a total of twelve novels under his own name, the latest being Death on the Ice, and two (Steel Rain and Copper Kiss) as Tom Neale. The latter have been optioned by Fremantle TV with a view to creating a TV series. Ryan is currently working on his next novel and a variety of television projects. Find out more at

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Watson takes centre stage 6 Jan 2013
What better place to get away with murder than on bloody battlefields, surrounded by death. This is the challenge that meets Dr. John Watson while he is teaching about blood transfusions at the front line of WWI. He just has the simple task of finding out who, how and why, can his skills picked up from his cases with estranged friend Sherlock Holmes, help him with solving this sensitive mystery?

The book opens with Watson arriving in a balloon flight, with the slow, gentle ride in contrast to the violence and horrors of war on the ground below. The landscape is far removed from Conan Doyle's foggy Victorian London and it takes a short while to get used to Watson in this new location, as a much older man and away from his consulting detective companion. Watson is in France to carry out blood transfusions and causes a stir immediately by choosing two VADs (Voluntary Aid Detachment 'nurses'), Mrs Gregson and Miss Pippery, to accompany him to the field hospital, which is frowned upon by the matron.

On a routine round, Watson discovers a body with strange injuries and his suspicions are raised. When more bodies turn up, Watson begins his own investigation with Mrs Gregson (who has a secret past of her own) and a violent revenge plot is uncovered...

I am a fan of Conan Doyle's work and have been unsure whether to read new 'spin-offs', but as with Anthony Horowitz's House of Silk, I really enjoyed this new story about Waston, as well as a smidgen of Holmes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Sherlock Holmes derivatives 22 Feb 2013
By AndrewB
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have only just discovered the vast majority of Arthur Conan Doyle copycat writers (although I read House of Silk which was very good a year ago). This book benefits by distancing itself a little from 221b Baker St and avoids the temptation to write stories that were only mentions in Holmes literature. These attempts I find slip up all too easily because they use phraseology that is too modern or too American or are just too sloppily written to stand judgement against ACD. Having picked up Holmes for the first time aged 21 I found it a world I dived into and couldn't get stop until I had read his last line. About 10 years ago I re-read them and loved them even more, but beyond watching every Holmes film or TV series - for which in my book Jeremy Brett has no peer - I am not a Holmes 'nerd' as such. So, rambling over. This book is a must-read. it is brilliantly written, gives a histrocial lesson in the reality of the trenches, particularly the work of the nurses, as well as giving a fine detective tale that has enough twists and turns and keeps enough facts from the reader to make solving the crime pure guesswork. I heartily recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dead Man's Land 2 Feb 2014
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
Over the course of a few short weeks in 1914, Dr Watson (former colleague of Sherlock Holmes) finds himself in France, determined to assist as a doctor in the horrors of the War at the Front. Little does he know that he will find more than men and women shot at by the enemy.

This is a fantastic book. I’m not overly familiar with the whole Sherlock Holmes ethos, although somewhat familiar. I have read several Sherlock Holmes stories, and some of the continuation stories written by various authors. But this is the first that I have read that really focuses so predominantly on the quiet but determined character of Dr Watson. Older and wearier now, he is still the straight talking and honourable British gentleman, but not so much of a stickler for the proprieties that he won’t go out of his way and beyond convention to prove his case.

The writing in this book is brilliant; I’ve not read any other of the author’s books, but I will be looking out for them now. I read this whole book in the course of one quiet day off; from the very first page I was completely engrossed and enthralled. The descriptions of the horrors of the war, but also the medical procedures, the wartime proprieties and characters are just riveting. We also get to see some of the narrative from the perspective of the German enemy, which really does bring home the futility and sheer horror of the War as a whole, when you can see it from multiple perspectives. This is a totally wonderful book, and highly recommended. Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a Sherlock Holmes fan, this book is a story much bigger than Holmes; it is a novel of the First World War, and a novel of a small group of the people caught up in that war.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best read for ages. 17 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As I am very interested in the first world war and also Sherlock Holmes, this book was a must read for me. I really hoped it would not be a disappointment, I need not have been concerned. Without giving too much away, its references to both camps (WW1 & SH) is impeccable. There have not been too many books that I have immediately started back at page one after finishing, this was one such book.......Loved it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As author Robert Ryan explained in a short essay for Crime Time, "Dead Man’s Land" was not originally his idea. His publisher was shopping around for “a work of fiction featuring a ‘detective in the trenches of World War I,’” and Ryan came up with a splendid solution: Why not send Dr. John H. Watson, of Sherlock Holmes fame, to the front lines in France, where he’d find himself involved in a homicide investigation? Of course, Watson would’ve been fairly old in 1918, when the action here takes place (in his mid-60s, by most reckonings). That, however, proved to be a surmountable problem. In "Dead Man’s Land," we find Watson--who, after all, was a battlefield surgeon before becoming the chronicler of a crime-solver’s escapades--in Flanders Fields as a major with the Royal Army Medical Corps, and “an expert in the new techniques of blood transfusion.”

He becomes grudgingly accustomed to the quotidian deaths of thousands of soldiers, the persistent bomb barrages, the pressures that weigh heavily upon physicians and nurses under such circumstances, and the appalling atmosphere of the trenches (“black tar from lamp wicks, the constant cigarettes, not to mention the tang of rat piss and the sour smell of unwashed clothes”). Yet, when a sergeant suddenly perishes of an elusive ailment that turns his skin blue and his hands into claws, the horrific routines of war are upset. Blame is cast initially upon Watson’s blood transfusions; but when other, similar deaths are discovered, the old man’s sublimated sleuthing sensitivities are aroused, and his pursuit of a murderer with old grudges to exercise draws him into a deadly confrontation that must finally be settled in the worst possible place: the bleak no-man’s-land between the opposing armies.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read
I thoroughly enjoyed this book with the First World War trench warfare well illustrated and a medical mystery and who done it tightly bandaged by Dr Watson!
Published 26 days ago by Gillian Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and worth a read.
It's an interesting story although not necessarily riveting. Recounting the experience of the war and the trenches is always remarkable as it makes you realize how lucky we are! Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Payne
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr Watson Rocks
I really could not put this down, enjoyable to the end.
Published 1 month ago by christine mason
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I nearly gave up after the first few chapters in this book as the descriptions of war in the trenches and the field hospital were a little too graphic for my taste (I'm female )... Read more
Published 1 month ago by paul moutell
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Story seemed very contrived but gave a good atmosphere of the trenches.
Published 1 month ago by Arthriticdonkey
4.0 out of 5 stars try it, you'll like it
enjoyable who done it set in WW1 with Dr Watson and lead investigator. Not my usual genre but I am a willing convert. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Canuck
4.0 out of 5 stars great read for Sherlock fans
Very gripping easy read. Sherlock Holmes fans will appreciate & enjoy the details of some of the Doyle stories. Overall, very enjoyable.
Published 6 months ago by Cara Dobbing
5.0 out of 5 stars Right ripping yarn
I was a bit dubious about Dr Watson being used by a thriller writer. I shouldn't have worried because he forms the central character and clearly Robert Ryan has done a great deal... Read more
Published 6 months ago by MrsS
4.0 out of 5 stars All quiet on the Watson Front
1915, The Western Front. Dr John Watson has come to a Flanders field hospital to demonstrate a radical new method for blood transfusion. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Crookedmouth
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever First World War mystery
Dr Watson investigates. Robert Ryan has created a complex murder mystery in the trenches and set Dr Watson - biographer of Sherlock Holmes and now an older widower - to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by L Weale
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