“We Went at Once to the Lawyer”: Pastiche Found in a Legal Journal

As a non-lawyer, I don’t ordinarily find myself reading the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Journal. But in researching entails for a discussion of “The Priory School,” I ran across a fascinating study of the law in the Canonical cases in which inheritance furnishes the motive. The paper, written in the form of a pastiche, is titled, “The Game Is Afoot!: The Significance of Donative Transfers in the Sherlock Holmes Canon,” and was published in that legal journal in 2011.

Sidney Paget, “The Crooked Man,” 1893

The abstract:

This article presents a recently discovered and previously unpublished manuscript written by John H. Watson, M.D., and annotated by Professor Stephen Alton. Dr. Watson’s manuscript records an extended conversation that took place between the good doctor and his great friend, the renowned consulting detective Mr. Sherlock Holmes, regarding issues of donative transfers of property—issues involving inheritances, wills, and trusts—that have arisen in some of the great cases solved by Mr. Holmes. This felicitous discovery confirms something that Professor Alton has long known: these donative transfer issues permeate many of these adventures. Often, the action in the case occurs because of the desire of the wrong-doer to come into an inheritance, a bequest, or the present possession of an estate in land more quickly—perhaps by dispatching the intervening heir, beneficiary, or life tenant. Professor Alton has annotated this manuscript, providing extensive analysis of these issues and citations to relevant, contemporary authority in his footnotes.

Alton, S. (2011). The Game Is Afoot!:The Significance of Donative Transfers in the Sherlock Holmes Canon. Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Journal, 46(1), 125–171.

All Sherlockians will find it worthwhile to read Watson’s analysis and Alton’s annotations, especially those who want to better understand the legal issues confronted by the Master.

“The Lowest and Vilest Alleys”: A Mobile Game Influenced by “The Valley of Fear”

During the lockdown, your Gazetteer has played a lot of escape-the-room games on an iPad. These are basically what it says on the tin: The player is trapped somewhere and must solve puzzles and/or find objects in order to escape.

One day I downloaded a game called Alleys, which locks you inside a theme-park reconstruction of an English coal-mining town where, you soon learn, something mysterious and terrible once occurred. In addition to the usual tasks of the genre, you gradually discover pieces of the backstory as you play. It’s not a great game, but it is diverting and challenging without being too difficult, and the graphics are impressive. It was created by Shi-Chi Shen of Taiwan and is quite the accomplishment for a solo programmer.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that this English town was located in the Vermissa Valley, and the villains were called The Scowrers. Shen must be a devoted fan of the Master, because scattered throughout the game are Sherlockian references, and not just to The Valley of Fear. For example:

Hmm, those names sound familiar …. But who is Dan Raines?

There are some clues that were left by someone described as a Pinkerton detective, but when you find them, these are the notes that accompany them:

Do not be misled: This is not a Sherlock Holmes game, and the storyline will win no awards, but I had fun both solving the puzzles and keeping an eye out for Canonical references.

Yes, Mycroft, we truly do hear of Sherlock everywhere.

The Charles Augustus Milverton Virtual Picnic

Once again we must cancel an event: Watson’s Picnic, originally scheduled for June 11, because of that dastardly COVID-19.

We are instead planning a virtual picnic with a discussion of “Charles Augustus Milverton,” a gripping story of blackmail, burglary, and murder. Attendees are encouraged to bring their devices outside, weather permitting, and to enjoy picnic food while talking about the story and listening to presentations.

Sidney Paget, The Strand, April 1904

We ordinarily have our Blind Auction at Watson’s Picnic; we are working on the logistics of holding it over Zoom.

To avoid conflicting with a meeting of The Parallel Case of St. Louis, we have moved the date one week later: It will be held on Saturday, June 18. Details are on the Events page; keep an eye on that or our Facebook page for any changes or updates.

At our virtual meeting today, we had several fascinating presentations about “The Priory School” We also welcomed as a new member Rich Krisciunas (from Michigan!). As Rich is already a member of several Scions, he will skip the Egg phase and go straight to a full membership.

Physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation. All interested guests are welcome to join us, as Rich did. The one advantage of the virus is that it is making it more common for us to meet Sherlockians from geographically distant locations!

“His Orders Were to Stay in the House”: More Upcoming Virtual Gatherings

That fiendish pandemic is still preventing Sherlockians from gathering socially. Fortunately, we now have videoconferencing, and three more free virtual gatherings have been announced.

  • Saturday, June 19, 12:30 pm PT: NMSOBC meeting to discuss “The Priory School.” Email bluecarbuncle1971@gmail.com for the Zoom info.
  • Saturday, June 27, 5 pm PT (virtual cocktail hour, 4:30 pm): The Torists International, a scion society based in Chicago, invites all Sherlockians, friends, and family to “an infinitely introspective program.” The meeting will include a eulogy for Sherlockian scholar and Torist co-founder Tony Citera; the investiture into the Torists of the winners of the Beacon Society-Joel Senter Memorial Contest 2020; a presentation on the sources of the ciphers in “The Dancing Men”; and a reading of Vincent Starrett’s 221B. Register here; email Jonathan Shimberg for more info.
  • Saturday, October 10, 10 am PT: Save the date for the virtual Left Coast Sherlockian Symposium! Speakers will include Mina Hoffman; Leslie Klinger, BSI; Bonnie MacBird, BSI, ASH; Angela Misri; and Rob Nunn. Visit the Symposium website for more info or to register.

Stay well, everyone, and when you must go out, wear a mask!

“Comfortable Chairs and the Latest Periodicals”: Issue 1 of Sherlock Holmes Magazine Now Available

Adrian Braddy has published the first issue of his new Sherlock Holmes Magazine, which covers the Master in all his incarnations.

It’s a 68-page, glossy, full-color periodical but not a commercial venture: It’s written by Holmes fans for Holmes fans. The contents of the first issue:

  • On set: Enola Holmes and The Irregulars
  • Elementary, my dear Alexa
  • A study in tartan
  • The Spanish Secret Files
  • When Holmes was banned
  • Watson! We have a problem
  • Defending Nigel Bruce
  • Bruising encounters
  • Moriarty reimagined
  • 10 years of BBC Sherlock
  • The story of A Study in Scarlet
  • The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
  • Live theatre in lockdown

Also included are some regular features, including a Holmesian crossword and comic strip.

Subscriptions are not yet available, but you can order the first issue, which costs £11.60 (a little over $15) for those outside the UK and Europe. If you’re interested, order soon, because supplies are limited.

A note from the editor:

Please be aware, before you take the plunge and purchase a copy, that this is NOT a commercial venture from a big publishing house. Hopefully Sherlock Holmes Magazine would not look out of place on any newsstand or in any bookstore, but it is important to realise that it is not a professional publication. It is a VERY small operation. There is no team of staff, no customer services department, no subscriptions office—just me, with some assistance from my wife. I am a former magazine journalist but this is my unpaid hobby, not my full-time job. Please be patient as we’ll struggle to match the level of service you would receive from a well-resourced publishing house. For instance, all work on the magazine is carried out outside of working hours. We will, however, do our very best.

Adrian Braddy

Your Gazetteer has not seen the magazine yet but is delighted to be able to support this ambitious project. If you’d like to get a copy or find out more, visit the magazine’s website. You can also email Adrian at editor@sherlockholmesmag.co.uk