“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

“I Trust That You Don’t Consider Your Collection Closed?”: Review of Robert Perret’s DEAD RINGERS

Dead Ringers, by Robert Perret
MX Publishing, 2019
Reviewed by Barbie Moreland

This is a series of short stories surrounding the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. It spans a large amount of time, from when Sherlock was just out of college to his later years, when he is in his 70’s. While most of the stories follow the tradition of using Dr. Watson’s point of view, a few vary the formula, written from Sherlock’s perspective, in the third person, and even from the POV of Jefferson Hope of A Study in Scarlet. Through their prose and description, many of the stories will thrill a Sherlockian with a feeling of nostalgia, while some will challenge the reader to accept other aspects of the characters’ lives and personalities, as well as the possibility of a less-than-ideal ending.

One unique aspect of this collection is the more significant and varied roles in which we find women, often highlighted as something other than distressed damsels in need of rescuing. Some of the stories do follow the traditional route of having the women be victims in need of help from the famous detective. However, in a couple of instances the women are antagonists and, indeed, perpetrate some of the more vicious crimes. Most interesting, however, is a story that blends womanly strength with the need of rescue: In “The Adventure of the Gnarled Beeches,” we find ourselves once again in the company of Miss Violet Hunter. (The reader will surely remember her from “The Copper Beeches” as the governess who was used as a lookalike stand-in to dissuade a suitor from pursuing the young lady of the household.) It seems that Miss Hunter, who has built upon her own strength and resolve, is not yet finished with the house of Rucastle. Ultimately, it is difficult to tell how much of the rescuing is done by Sherlock and how much is accomplished by the lady herself.

Another story gives a nod to the real-life dichotomy between Holmes and his maker, Arthur Conan Doyle. “The Mystery of the Pharaoh’s Tablet” has Holmes squaring off with a man who claims to be a professor of ancient magic and able to invoke the powers of Ra-Atet. While Holmes is a logical machine who does not believe in any aspect of mysticism, Conan Doyle often indulged in illusions and truly believed in the magic the practitioners of the spiritual arts claimed to possess.

In this reviewer’s opinion, there are only two stories in the collection that are problematic, or simply difficult to accept. As mentioned earlier, this collection takes the liberty of expanding the personalities of many of the original characters, which can be very gratifying. However, in ”Sherlock Holmes and the Sharpshooter,” Watson acts significantly out of character. He flip-flops from a creepy stalker and shameless flirt to the overly chivalrous sidekick we know and love. He openly speaks of admiring a woman’s form, while the Watson of old would blush to the tips of his ears even thinking about it. Sherlock is his usual self, but Watson seems a different person entirely.

The other troublesome story is the final one, “For King and Country.” It is both enjoyable and disturbing, challenging any preconceived notions of a “happy ending.” In the original Canon, each story sees Watson and Holmes, having neatly wrapped up a case, sitting around the fire enjoying brandy and a cigar. This story, however, leaves ends untied and issues unresolved. The most disturbing aspect to this reviewer is that Mycroft ultimately becomes a traitor to his country and gets away with it. Mycroft has, in the past, unashamedly used Sherlock and Watson to accomplish goals on behalf of the realm, but those occasions were a far cry from his actions in this story. While I understand that Mycroft has suffered a significant change, this seems too strong even for him. Conan Doyle always hinted at a deep bond between the two brothers despite their differences. It is hard to stomach Mycroft’s betrayal, and this story lacks the neat, tidy ending that is typical of the classic cases.

Despite these personal judgments, the tale is well-written and spans several years without being overlong. The short scenes that skip through the years give the story depth while avoiding tedium. Overall, this collection was great fun to read! I appreciated the various liberties the author took with familiar personalities and the blend of old and new characters. The varied roles of women, the differing points of view, and the assorted timelines provide a very appealing richness. I would not hesitate to add this book to my collection of Holmes stories.

“I May Need Some of These Dates Which You Have Noted”: Next Meeting Moved to June 20

Our virtual meeting to discuss “The Priory School,” originally scheduled for June 13, has been moved to June 20 so as not to conflict with SOS At Home. Please see our Events page or Facebook for further details.

Like Maudie, “I will be there you may be sure” (“The Lion’s Mane”).

“You Scintillate Today!”: Register for Free Virtual Scintillation of Scions XIII

Bring fellow Sherlockians into your dreary lockdown! A Scintillation of Scions, the annual literary symposium sponsored by Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City, MD, has announced SOS At Home, a virtual version of this year’s event.

The symposium will take place over Zoom on Saturday, June 13, 2020, at 12 noon ET (that’s—*gulp*—9 am for us Left Coasters). It is free, but you must register at the SOS website.

Scheduled Events

  • Talks by Ray Betzner, Ashley Polasek, Steve Mason, Julie McKuras,Howard Ostrom, Daniel Stashower, and Dana Richards
  • Some sort of version of the running of the Silver Blaze (Southern Division)
  • A screening of the 1976 comedy-mystery The Return of the World’s Greatest Detective, featuring Larry Hagman (!) as Sherman Holmes—an L.A. cop who falls off his motorcycle, strikes his head, and wakes up believing he’s Sherlock Holmes—with Jenny O’Hara as his social worker, Dr. Joan Watson. (We wouldn’t miss this obscure non-classic for the world!)

The organizers are also working on interactive options for attendees, including a Zoom conference room. Any questions? Email the organizers at scintillation.of.scions@outlook.com

While you’re registering, be sure to check out the Swag Shop or consider a donation to help defray the cost of the event. Your Gazetteer is wavering between these two shirts:

An enthusiastic “Halloa!” goes out to the folks at Scintillation of Scions who are volunteering their efforts to help us celebrate our love of Holmes and Watson despite the pandemic. Let us come Together Apart.

See you all on June 13th!