In a second round of resuscitation (Sherlock Holmes and the Rat of Sumatra, 2002), Vanneman makes the Great Detective play second Stradivarius to Watson.
True, Holmes has flashes of characteristic brilliance while chasing the eponymous Hapsburg tiara, but it’s Watson who gets center stage: Watson the hard-working doctor, Watson the successful lothario, Watson the proud adoptive papa of an irresistible ragamuffin. The case this time is brought by late-night callers with a commission concerning affairs of state and one Joseph Anton Salvator, the Austrian archduke-palatine, who may or may not be an imposter. Soon enough, Holmes and Watson are aboard the opulent Orient Express en route to Constantinople. For Watson—or Johnny, as his ladyloves call him—the trip is unforgettable. During it, he encounters Madame la Comtesse D’Espinau, whose “beauty was truly enough to pluck the reason from any man,” and shares with her enthusiastically rendered bouts of “amatory satisfaction.” The trail grows cold, then hot and cold again over a period of some eight years. There’ll be murders most foul, alarums, narrow escapes, and even ratiocinative lapses by the Great Detective, but in the end, the tiara is restored to its rightful owner, justice is served, and H&W earn anew the thanks of a grateful nation.
Spotty stuff, but Watson in love just might be worth the price.