Claire O’Dell

Books: Science Fiction | LGBT

The Janet Watson Chronicles: A Study in Honor (2018), The Hound of Justice (2019)

The Janet Watson Chronicles

A Study in Honor (2018)

A Study in HonorHere’s the deal. I don’t like SF. I don’t like dystopias. But I love mysteries, and I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, although I really dislike Sherlock Holmes stories that were NOT written by ACD. So this was not going to be an easy read for me, having so many elements I generally don’t enjoy.

Dr. Janet Watson was honorably discharged from the Army after losing her left arm. They gave her a mechanical appliance, but not only was it not good enough to continue her job as a surgeon–it wasn’t even the correct size for her, but was the best that could be done in the field.

I had worked too hard— and let’s be honest, I owed too much money— to throw away my career as a surgeon. So I had returned to DC, to the city where I had lived as a child and later as a student, to exact a more useful reward for my services to my country. I couldn’t hope for an entirely new device, not with the war and its needs outpacing the factories, but surely the VA might supply me with one better fitted to my body and my profession.

But no one in the US is happy with the Civil War raging in the midwest, and budgets have been cut for everyone, so Janet searches for a job and makes plans to badger the VA every month as is her legal right.

I had a very difficult time with the world building, not because it was badly done, but because it was well done, and dystopias make me very unhappy.

they had instituted this new system, where medical technicians interviewed the patients, took their blood pressure, and handled dozens of other tasks once assigned to the nurses and physician assistants. Our time was cheaper than theirs, and since we worked thirty or fewer hours a week, we cost the VA no benefits.

Although the characters are Janet Watson and Sara Holmes, and although Janet is a retired army doctor, this story is a Holmes & Watson story only in that it has some of the Holmes tropes, but is a completely different spin, which is one of the things I particularly enjoyed about it.

But, as I said, it was a SF dystopia, so as much as I enjoyed the mystery, and will probably read the next book at some point, the whole thing left me unsettled (which is why I dislike dystopias). So although not a series I could read one book after another, I do want to read the next book, to see what happen with the characters.

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Rating: 6.5/10

The Hound of Justice (2019)

The Hound of JusticeWhen I read it, I was drawn into A Study in Honor despite the fact it was really not the kind of book I enjoy.

The same is true this time.

Janet Watson is settling into her position at Georgetown–although she isn’t yet cleared for surgery with her new arm.

I knew she understood how much I needed to prove I was capable of performing surgery with my new prosthetic device.

“I’m ready,” I said. “More than ready. You said so last time—”

“I said nothing of the kind.” Sydney’s voice was soft, almost gentle. She reached across the worktable and laid a hand over my right arm. “My dear Dr. Watson, I realize that arrogance is a prerequisite for surgeons, but we are concerned with more than your ego. Consider, if you will, your patients.”

I sucked my teeth. She was right.

Her roommate, Sara Holmes, is still on leave from whatever secret agency she works for, but an attack on the capitol on Inauguration Day seems to have her back to work.

PTSD is an integral part of this book–specifically, Janet dealing with her PTSD.

In our remaining time, we talked about trigger words, about coping, about the necessity for kindness.

Undeserved was another trigger word, which I could recognize, but which I had not yet learned to ignore.

“Dr. Carter is right to say we should monitor this patient closely,” I said carefully. “I’d also recommend grief counseling, as soon as possible. Emotional distress is as tricky as infection. It might only become obvious days or weeks later. Especially with someone who has lost all her family.”

“Which is the course you chose for yourself,” Carter said. “Or you might have succumbed to despair any time this past year, Dr. Watson. Am I right?”

A direct hit, that. Had she aimed it with malice? No, simply a pointed lesson. Whatever her motive, I was down with pointed lessons.

“Correct,” I said.

Was this story good?

Very much so.

Did I enjoy it?

Not so much.

This story walks the line between science fiction and dystopia, and I have an extremely difficult time reading dystopias. It was also pointedly political–which I also appreciated, however, with the dystopian elements it was far more emotionally heavy than I was quite ready to read.

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Rating: 7/10