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The Dead Can Wait (Dr Watson 2) [Hardcover]

Robert Ryan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: £18.99
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Book Description

2 Jan 2014 Dr Watson 2
Deep in England's green and pleasant land something evil lurks… Dr John Watson is back home, fresh from his time in the trenches of Flanders Fields. The horrors of war weigh heavy on his mind, and now his task is to help rehabilitate soldiers suffering from the crippling effects of shell-shock. But the war is not yet over and in one corner of England lies a secret, one that the establishment is determined to keep under wraps. For in the woodlands of the lush countryside, the government is building the secret weapon which will win the war for Britain. Here, they are developing the land ship - never-before-seen 'tanks' which the army is convinced will end the stalemate on the Western Front. But then disaster strikes. After a training exercise in one of the tanks, eight men are mysteriously struck down, seven of them dead. There is just the one survivor, and he's not talking. It is clear something is horribly wrong, and the army calls in the only man who will know how to solve the mystery: Dr John Watson.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (2 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471101177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471101175
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 3.4 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 292,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant sequel to a brilliant series opener 5 Jan 2014
By Manda Scott VINE VOICE
I became a fan of Rob Ryan's work at Harrogate History Fest in October, when I heard him speak on a panel about Sherlock Holmes..... Apparently there was a single line in one of the last Holmes books which said that Watson had gone back to his 'old unit' - that being the RAMC, and given that we were on the brink of WWI, that means he went back to war.

Thus arises one of the best post-Conan Doyle Sherlockian series, and a fantastic historical crime series. The Major John Watson we come to know in the trenches in DEAD MAN'S LAND and again here in the UK in The Dead Can Wait is a humane, compassionate, competent individual, who nevertheless appreciates the help of his steadily deteriorating friend, Holmes. The horrors of war are not stinted, but nor are they gratuitous. In DML, we (well, I) learned a huge amount about nurses and the various auxilliaries and how they worked, while in TDCW, we (I) learn a lot we (I) didn't know about 'shell shock' and then, later, about the early development of tanks. It's fascinating, and yet none of it is presented as 'here is the research I did, now suck it up and learn it' which is so often the case in historical novels of this sort. It's all integral to the plot, and carries the dynamic tension even as we're given a virtual tour of the tank testing grounds. There's a truly scary German woman-spy, part of a network called the She Wolves, of whom I'm sure (I hope) we'll learn more, and the very welcome return of Mrs Gregson, the red-headed, motor-bike riding, thoroughly competent nursing auxilliary.

In a year when there are going to be 1,000 ( at least) books about WWI published, this will be one of the first, and I am prepared to bet, one of the best. It's a cracking, fulfilling, utterly satisfying read and you should get a copy now...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Conan Doyle’s Dr Watson investigates in WW1 4 Mar 2014
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
1916, and in the aftermath of Loos and the Somme the British are desperate for a new weapon which will bring the war to an end. But in a secret Army establishment in England seven men have been killed during weapon trials – and Dr Watson is brought in to uncover how and why.

The background to this story is depicted excellently: the machinations of Winston Churchill, the weapons development, and the war scenes. The presence of German spies, the Zeppelin attacks on Britain, and the fraught relations with Ireland also have important roles to play in this story, and are treated with subtlety and nuance.

But I could never quite make the leap from picturing Holmes and Watson in foggy Victorian London, to their presences here in war-time Britain. In fact, the ‘detective’ elements didn’t quite fit here and, to some extent, let this book down. While the first half of the story was driven very well by the mystery of how and why the men died, by about halfway through, there were other strands of the story that had taken prominence. The dénouement, when it comes, is absurdly contrived and the perpetrator’s motive lacked all plausibility for me.

Ryan writes very well and he captures the atmosphere of desperation and political tensions superbly. But the genre mix of war-time thriller and traditional detective story didn’t quite mesh for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dead Can Wait 24 Feb 2014
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
“My old friend, with luck there is no abyss waiting.”

Robert Ryan’s first book which featured Dr John Watson (of Sherlock fame) was Dead Man’s Land. That book had Dr Watson in France on the Western Front during the horrors of the First World War, intimately involved in war, mayhem, spying and subterfuge. In this book, we are back in England during 1916, and Dr Watson is called upon to assist in investigating an ‘incident’. A new weapon is being tested under top secret conditions, but somehow eight men were driven insane; seven have died and one is non-responsive. Can Watson find out the cause, and even more importantly for the War Office, can he resolve it? But of course there are those who are not on the Allies’ side who would also give much to find out what’s going on in the British war effort, and they are not concerned about collateral damage. Watson not only has to solve a mystery, but he has to be better than those for whom subterfuge is their calling, and try not to let his memories of his time on the Western Front overcome his own sanity.

This is a great book, following on from the earlier excellent book Dead Man’s Land. The character of Doctor Watson is well conceived and executed, and the other characters, including recurring characters such as the redoubtable Mrs Gregson are well portrayed. There are an awful lot of characters and events introduced very early on in this book, and it pays to start the book with enough time on your hands to get into it, so that you can assimilate these characters and events before moving further with the narration of the main storylines.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent fiction = History 17 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
As with all good sequels this book is well able to stand alone, but all the better for having read the first in the series, 'Dead Man's Land' (and why wouldn't you?). Dr. John Watson is safely back in England after facing the mud, shells and dangers of the Western Front, but not safe for very long. The main setting for the book is the quiet Suffolk countryside where the British are developing a new weapon which they hope will bring a quick end to the Great War but the road to invention is far from smooth. Men are dying before testing has hardly begun. Dr. Watson is recruited to replace the already deceased medical officer in an effort to prevent more deaths and in the hope that his dual role of doctor and detective will allow a successful outcome to a most important national project. The story is fast-moving and intricately woven with different threads constantly 'cliff-hanging' but at the same time merging effortlessly into the whole, leaving no possibility of forgetting who's who or what's going on.

I would count myself as a rather dispassionate reader, but quickly found that I actually CARED about what happened to the characters, and am still grieving for the death of my favourite - a hard-to-forgive bit of writing in my opinion. The book is incredibly well-researched, remaining absorbing and very readable while including fact and technical detail which adds to general knowledge and an understanding of the war itself. There are spies, secrets, politicians, a lot of action and a great many bodies. Sherlock Holmes himself has a more prominent role in this second book, as does Georgina Gregson, nurse-heroine from 'Dead Man's Land.' And most satisfyingly, the ending just has to result in more to come.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Watson without Holmes
This is the second Robert Ryan book to feature Dr. John Watson in his own right. There must be some copyright infringement which stops him from including Holmes directly in the... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent read
Published 2 months ago by john batty
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific read.
Ryan's 'creation' of Dr Watson as a character in his own right is inspired. And the occasional reference to an ailing Holmes brings added poignancy to the story. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Michael P Gostick
5.0 out of 5 stars what a sequel
Superb read,a real page turner of a book.great follow up to dead mans land.
The author can't leave it though, got to be a 3rd book.
Published 5 months ago by becks
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I found this very disappointing after the previous book Dead Man's Land.
I felt the ending was not what would have been allowed to happen.
Published 7 months ago by R. Webb
4.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Watson is at it again
Following his first narrative of Dr. Watson in World War I (Dead Man's Land), Robert Ryan creates another thrilling narrative, this time with most of the action centered on the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Chris
2.0 out of 5 stars The dead can wait
Disappointing after the first Dr.Watson book.Overly long, too many subplots and like many other historical detective stories throw in Winston Churchill for gravitas.
Published 7 months ago by JR JACK
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Addition
Watson comes into his own.Although Holmes is the voice of guidance, John Watson comes into his own is an outstanding addition to the continuing story of Holmes and Watson. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Thomas Marsh
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable but hardly elementary
The Dead Can Wait is fun. It bounds along, mostly quite breathlessly. There are twists and turns around every corner and you never know the next character who's going to be... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ian Bain
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dead Can Wait
Bought this as a present for my partner who is an avid reader of anything Sherlock Holmes. He thoroughly enjoyed it
Published 8 months ago by Helen Lincolnshire
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