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One of my favourite short stories is The Monkey’s Paw, by W. W. Jacob, but I always wondered how Sergeant-Major Morris acquired the paw in India, what he wished for, and what his predecessor wished for. In A Scandal in Bohemia, Sherlock Holmes mentions the singular tragedy of the Atkinson brothers of Trincomalee, but never elaborates. As it turns out, I am a distant relative of the brothers and quite by chance my research into the family’s past uncovered the truth behind both stories. A Tragedy in Trincomalee is The Monkey’s Paw prequel. Is it fate or coincidence that determines a man’s fate? You will have to decide.

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