The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book

The Adventure of the London Waterworks

This isn’t really a Beholder project, because the publishers Ammonite made it... but, as Ormond Sacker, I was commissioned to help create this book for them. If you enjoyed solving the puzzles in Planetarium then you’ll probably like The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book too.

Sherlock Holmes Escape Book showing cover volvelle

It’s a choose-your-own-path adventure-style puzzle escape book, in which your answers to the puzzles determine your route through (and, eventually, out of) the book. The evocative full-page illustrations are by Tobias Willa, all the supporting graphics are by Ammonite’s designer Robin Shields, and we even snuck in an extra Sherlockian short story by Viv Croot if you are observant enough to find it. The book features a volvelle (in this case, a code-wheel) on the cover — the publishers provide this online version, which you can fiddle with but which won’t be any use without the puzzles in the book.

Unlike Planetarium, progression through the story does depend on your solutions to the puzzles — but hints and the complete¹ solutions are provided at the back of the book if you get stuck.

The book was published in the UK in July 2019. If you want it you can wander into your favourite (ideally independent) bookshop and ask for it. Alternatively, buy it online:

As part of the research for this I spent time with some of the excellent people and engines that are to be found in London’s great little Museum of Water & Steam at Kew Bridge, because I used their site — formerly the Grand Junction Water Works pumping station — as the setting of the main events in the book. So the absolute best way of getting a copy of The Adventure of the London Waterworks is to go and visit them, and buy one (or more) from their gift shop on the way out.

¹ Well, almost complete. There’s one puzzle whose workings I wouldn’t let them fully reveal.


See Ammonite's errata page.

The following only applies to copies printed in the first edition (turn to the very last page of your book: if you see “Reprinted...” then you’ve got a later edition).

A couple of teeny-tiny errors made it through into the first edition. If you work through all the puzzles, these might have interfered with your otherwise impeccable problem-solving:

58: A red notebook

(missing pages puzzle)
The text description of the missing numbers is misleading. It says “every fourth number was skipped”. But actually the pattern that the example shows would be better described as, “number 4 was skipped, and then on every fourth page after that a number was skipped”. It’s a subtle distinction but it might throw you off if you don’t look at the sequence carefully — and the hint (in the hint section) cruelly doesn’t help if you haven’t noticed the wrinkle.

90: Boulton & Watt Engine Room

(a “dancing men” puzzle)
One of the dancing men is incorrect. The one shown here in red should really be its reflection, shown in white:

correction to Dancing Man

When you’ve got all the other letters, the anagram of the number you are looking for is fairly clear — except for that one letter which is wrong because this dancing man is backwards, spoiling it.