Murthy, Vasudev. Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years: Timbuktu. Scottsdale: Poisoned Pen Press, 2016

murthy sherlock holmes timbuktu

 

When I saw that Vasudev Murthy’s newest book on the Great Detective’s Great Hiatus was going to take place on the African continent, I was pretty excited–after all, pastiche authors take Holmes into Asia all the time but, despite his admission to Watson that he’d spent some time with the Khalifa in the Sudan, I don’t think I’ve yet seen another story set in an African country. I did wonder how, exactly, Murthy would pull this off, however–it seemed pretty obvious from the end of Japan that Holmes and Watson headed straight back to Liverpool,  with no other stops along the way. Although I try to be flexible, particularly when I know a story is (necessarily in the case of Hiatus tales) going to be AU, I do tend to be a bit of a stickler, so when I saw that the main action in Timbuktu begins in May, 1893–a month or so before that in Japan, I scribbled in the margins for a minute…before I figured it out.  Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years, is not, precisely, a series–that is, it’s not a group of books that takes us from May 4, 1891 (or thereabouts) up to April-ish, 1894.  It is, instead, a series of imaginings–in which, for every book, Murthy wipes the slate clean and asks yet another “What if….?”

I like that. I like it very much.

In each of his books thus far, Murthy treats a different type of Canon case. Japan, with its emphasis on international relations and crime, is a story more along the lines of “The Naval Treaty” or “The Bruce-Partington Plans.” Timbuktu, however, Watson quickly informs us, involves questions of “life and death.”  Well,you might argue, quite a few of Holmes’ cases do that, but Watson means something quite different than, say, the race to save Lady Frances Carfax. Instead, he tells us, as much as he believes in science and the “products of scrupulous scientific inquiry,” he begs that the reader realize,

It can also be argued that what we know today may be a fraction of all that really exists, and therefore, when confronted with entirely new situations, we may not have a ready explanation that science accepts. [….] While the entire principle of telephony is based on scientific logic involving magnetism and electricity, perhaps a hundred years ago we might have summarily dismissed the possibility of speaking to another person…through copper wires. In fact, had some one even suggested this, execution might have followed in certain countries where allegations of witchcraft invariably end badly….*

Do you catch a hint of Conan Doyle’s spiritualism there, dear reader?  Yeah, me too.

1920-jean-and-arthur-conan-doyle-on-spirit-photography

He would be gratified.

So, here we have another type of Canon story–the “supernatural” adventure, following in the gigantic footprints of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Watson is quick to reassure the reader, however, that (spoilers!) just as in the moors of Devon, “this story is not about magic.”  The reader may come to quibble with that, “entirely new situations” notwithstanding.

I stated earlier that Timbuktu begins in 1893–but that is not precisely true. The foundation of the adventure is actually laid in 1891, before the events in “The Final Problem.” As is often the case, we find Holmes and Watson in the sitting room of 221B. Watson, married and “in harness,” has stopped by to visit his friend, whom he hasn’t seen in awhile. Holmes is flipping through his copy of Debrett’s and lying on the settee while they gossip and reminisce. As always, Watson’s time is impeccable; he’s arrived on the very day Holmes is expecting an unusual client–one Signor Rozzi, chief conservator at the Venice Museum–with an unusual problem: he needs Holmes to discover the significance of half of an ancient parchment manuscript.

What Rozzi shows him, Holmes quickly realizes, is actually a copy, written in Meroitic, an an early Nile valley language.

meroitic manuscript

It looks like this. (From art-and-archeology.com)

Rozzi tells Holmes that it came into the museum’s possession after the death of Marco Polo, as part of his papers. Because of this, it was located in the Chinese section, and might have crumbled to dust there unread, had it not been for a series of threatening letters and then a break-in. The apparent significance of the parchment has Rozzi determined to have it translated; besides Holmes, he’s also consulted James Conway of the British Museum, and given him a copy to work with. He leaves the “original” with Holmes, after obtaining permission from the Pope (“Why is the Pope interested, I wonder,” muses Holmes. Why, indeed?).** Given that the translation could take awhile, Rozzi returns to Italy after making plans to pay another visit to London in April–“Say, the twentieth?”**

Do you recognize the significance of the date?  I believe you do.

Rozzi won’t make it back to London. Conway will be badly beaten. Professor Moriarty will make a dramatic appearance, and Holmes will go over the falls at Reichenbach.

Or so it seems. What he’s really doing is buying time–time to pursue the other half of the manuscript before it can fall into unscrupulous hands for, as Watson repeats several times throughout the book, Sherlock Holmes’ greatest accomplishments came, not from apprehending criminals after the commission of the crime, but from averting the crime altogether–not that the general blood-thirsty, sensation-craving masses of his readership would appreciate this.*** Holmes spends the next two years undercover, mostly in Tangiers, where he plays the part of a Polish priest, Father Andrzej Bakiewicz, sent by Rome to manage accounts–a simple job which leaves plenty of time for detecting. By April of 1893, he is ready to send for Watson, whose wife (as always) gives him up without a fuss.

Meanwhile, in Malabar….

Thalassery Vatoot Mohammad Koya’s father, a spice trader, has just died, and his son is sorting through his things. Among the account books, shells, and dust, he finds a cache of gold coins–and a letter.

This letter is from his ancestor–the famous ibn Batuta, a renowned traveler and writer whose most important work, Al-Rihla,  has inspired tremendous devotion–both in Murthy’s fictional world, and in our own.†

ibnatuta

Yes, he was a real guy. Here’s proof.

 

In the letter, addressed to one of his sons, the explorer writes that, even though he met the boy only once, as an infant, he wishes to leave him “a great inheritance.” We know from a previous chapter that he believes this to be a treasure map–or at least half of one–which has come to him, in a slightly convoluted fashion, from Marco Polo via the  current Zamorin of Calicut, who tells him that the other half can be found in Polo’s native Venice. Beset with illness and danger on his journey home, ibn Batuta is forced to leave his papers–the manuscript among them–at the Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu. Aware that he needs to safeguard this clue to “riches beyond his wildest dreams,” he doesn’t provide its location in the letter he sends his son; instead, he writes another missive which he entrusts to two families, whom he pays to keep it until it’s claimed–however long that might be. It is these “Guardians of the Letter” ibn Batuta tells his descendant to find–in Tangiers.

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The Sankore Madrassah, Mali. It actually shows up later in the story, but this is the only place I had left for an illustration.

Confused?  It is rather complicated, and much easier to read than it is to explain. But the important thing to understand is that Koya does not know, initially, what this inheritance is, and that Marco Polo’s manuscript is in two halves–one in Venice (which Holmes has), and one in Timbuktu.  Thanks to time, chance, and some degree of illiteracy, ibn Batuta’s legacy has gone unclaimed, the “Guardians of the Letter” have become a sort of cult waiting for their “master” and, more recently, one Professor Moriarty has not only become aware of the entire thing–he also knows what the “treasure” actually is….

As does Sherlock Holmes. The stage is now set for a race across northern Africa, from Morocco to Mali to Sudan, including a trek across the Sahara. Holmes, Watson, and their Tuareg guides, vie against Koya and the Guardians, with Professor Moriarty and his own allies  providing yet a third band of rivals. Add to this the continual interplay of British, French, and Italian colonial interests; ethnic, religious, and tribal conflicts; disease, and the dangers of the desert, it’s a wonder that anyone gets out of this one alive, much less….

Well, that would be telling.

hith-marco-polo-china-E

Marco Polo as a young man.

It’s always interesting to review different books by the same author–to get to know their style, to see the things they consistently do well, the things that still need tweaking, and the way their writing changes over time. I liked Murthy’s first book, Japan, but I do think that Timbuktu  is a better one, and here’s why….

First, as I mentioned before, the locale is an unusual one for a Sherlockian adventure,  and one which makes sense, given what we know about the detective’s movements during the Great Hiatus. In reading the Canon, we often, if we’re paying attention, get a glimpse of the tremendous expanse of British colonialism, but it’s seen through the eyes of an author who, while a very open and liberal person in many respects, was also a man of his time. Reading about “Lascars” and “Pandies,” for example, can be a trifle uncomfortable for us now, but in pastiches, it’s possible for authors to explore 19th century international relations and intercultural attitudes both more thoroughly and more honestly. Murthy does an excellent job of this without, as far as I can tell, being anachronistic.

Another area in which Murthy excels is in his evocation of settings. I have never been to a desert, much less the Sahara and, after reading his descriptions of the discomforts and hazards of crossing one, I have absolutely no desire to go. As Watson tells it:

The baking heat was beyond belief. It hit us relentlessly from all sides. For someone like me, who had seen action in Afghanistan and still had a Jezail bullet throbbing within, pain and suffering were no strangers. Yet the tropical heat I had experienced in the land of the Balochs and in Sind were nothing compared to the unrelenting waves of hot air, the pinpricks of heated sand, and the uncomfortable jerking of my camel…. 

I have only a bare recollection of how the day ended. I was barely conscious.††

As in Japan, Watson gives us a bit of a huffy justification for including “the details of a memorable trip through the Sahara,” rather than the grisly descriptions of crime he assumes his readers are looking for. I do have to say that, occasionally, that first book did read a little bit like a travelogue, but in Timbuktu, the setting details are more fully integrated into the adventure.

holmes in basket chair.jpg

“Really, Watson, you get too defensive about this.”

Another way in which I believe Timbuktu surpasses its predecessor is in Murthy’s more restrained use of extra documents and lengthy flashbacks to fill the holes in Watson’s narrative. As we’ve discussed before, one of the problems with using Watson as your sole narrator is that fact that he cannot be everywhere at once, and one way to get around this is to insert other points of view via “documents” or lengthy reminiscences; we have Canon precedents for both.  Still, this technique can be unwieldy and distracting, and in Timbuktu, Murthy keeps these digressions to a minimum–or perhaps I just found these more interesting. I have to say, I got  caught up in the story of Koya, so much so that I actually wished for a little more about his Saharan journey, rather than the quick wrap-up he receives towards the end of the book. To write a more parallel account, however, would likely require that the author step away from Watson and use the third person, as we have in “The Mazarin Stone.”

Just as he did in his first novel, Murthy handles his characters reasonably well. Watson is a little less humorously drawn here; we have the little asides about Holmes’ monographs and some petulance about publishers and readers, but in this outing, he seems a little subdued. He forgets, too, once they reach Khartoum, that he is in the place where his hero, General Gordon, met his death. Perhaps it’s just the heat and fatigue of his journey, but it might also stem from his relationship with Holmes. The Sherlock Holmes of Timbuktu bears some resemblance to the one in Japan: he needs Watson’s help, he is enamored of the new types of music he finds in their travels, he plans monographs, and he is able to mesh well with the new cultures he encounters–unlike his friend, who has some trouble with smells and sounds and food. Still, this Holmes seemed distant to me–and no doubt to Watson, to whom he was occasionally even cruel. In one scene, for example, Holmes poses as Uzbek trader Yaqub Beg Batuta, and takes Watson along as his deaf and mute “slave.”  It is probably a reasonable disguise, and allows Watson to remain silent the entire time, but it’s also an uncomfortable and humiliating experience for the doctor, It even turns nerve-wracking at one point, when the Imam of the Sankore Mosque asks “Yaqub” to leave his slave behind as “payment” for the box of manuscripts he will be taking with him. Holmes wriggles out of this one, but Watson is a little worried. In other parts of the book, the Great Detective seems more interested in his new companions and surroundings than he does in his old friend. Some of Holmes’ behavior–not giving Watson important information, supposedly for his own good, for example–is true to Canon, but I often got the feeling that, in this adventure, Watson was Holmes’ helpmeet, but not his partner. There is a Rathbone/Bruce vibe to their relationship, and it seems to culminate, in the end, with Holmes denying Watson a tremendous gift–possibly not intentionally, and due only to his impulsive curiosity –but, unless I missed something, his actions left me feeling sad and a bit…disappointed.

And the supernatural element?  Oh yes, it exists, and plays a major part in the book. If you are a Sherlockian who is only interested in rational explanations,  you may find yourself frustrated by Timbuktu. But those readers who like the thrill of the mystical will find that Murthy is able to handle the unexplained and the spiritual with a subtle hand, deftly balancing it against the heroes and villains of the physical world.

Gebel_Barkal

Jebel Barkal, near the Valley where (almost) all is revealed.

 

In closing, I have a confession to make: this review, taken from an ARC kindly supplied by Poisoned Pen, was supposed to be up during the first week or so of January. Unfortunately, that was also when we were caught up in packing, house renovations, and moving to a new city several hours away. It took awhile before my brain was ready to handle the sustained thought and effort that a book review requires.  But with Spring Break season in full swing, who’s to say the timing isn’t fortuitous after all?  You know you need a new book for the plane, the beach, for hiding in the bathroom from your kids…. Even if you’re stuck at the same old job in the same old place, enjoy the warmer weather, and plan an escape to Timbuktu.

 

Vasudev Murthy lives in Bangalore, India, where, as his day job, he runs a consulting firm. His other books include The Time Merchants and Other Strange Tales; What the Raags Told Me; How Organizations Really Work;  and Effective Proposal Writing. He is a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of India. Mr. Murthy can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. He has an author page at http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/Vasudev-Murthy. Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years: Japan is available on all large online booksellers in both trade paperback and ebook form, as well as in traditional brick-and-mortar shops. You can also order a copy online from Poisoned Pen Press.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5–“Well worth your time and money”

Canon Rating: 4 out of 5–A few questions, but no serious violations; those of you who do not appreciate the supernatural in your stories may wish to lower this rating to 3.

 

Footnotes:

*pp. 1 and 2 of the ARC

**Remember, the document left with Holmes is also a copy. Quote is from p. 20 of the ARC.

***I know. I felt rather insulted, myself.

†You can follow ibn Batuta’s travels here….http://ibnbattuta.berkeley.edu, and read it here….https://archive.org/stream/TheRehlaOfIbnBattuta/231448482-The-Rehla-of-Ibn-Battuta_djvu.txt

††pp. 128-129 of the ARC

 

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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 14

london-cold

We can’t know for sure, of course, unless there’s a record tucked away in that dispatch box, but perhaps, some time near the beginning of January, 1886, Sherlock Holmes took on a private case.  Perhaps it was a complex crime of a sensitive nature, and perhaps it took all of his time, causing him to fly through his own birthday without noticing. Perhaps Mrs. Hudson made a plum cake, which Watson ended up eating all by himself, in bits and pieces, slipping some to Holmes while he wasn’t really paying attention enough to wonder what it was for.

And perhaps, three weeks later, once the client’s cheque had cleared and Holmes had slept for a day or so, Watson told his flatmate to get dressed, because they were going out.

“Simpson’s?”

“Something even better.”

“Why? What’s the occasion?”

“We’ve missed your birthday, Holmes, and with the remuneration from your latest case, we can afford to do things up properly.”

watson with paper

 

“Properly” could mean Langham’s and if so, this is the bill of fare they would have had to choose from (note that the date is incorrect; Monday was January 25 in 1886):

Langham hotel menu

Thanks for finding this, Jacquelyn!!

Langham hotel menu

Afterwards, they may have gone out for some form of entertainment. The Langham conveniently provides several ideas on their menu, including Miss Lily Langtry in “Princess George.” Holmes would have had his choice, however, so Dr. Watson may well have had to sit through a lecture on “Average Rates of Mortality” at the Institute of Actuaries or “Hegel’s Conception of Nature” at the Aristotelian Society. “Faust” was at the Lyceum, Burns’s Birthday Concert at the Albert Hall, and Maskylene and Cook performed their famous illusions at Covent Garden Circus. “The Mikado” was playing at the Strand, but that seems more Watson’s thing.

Well, today we’re celebrating Sherlock Holmes’s birthday on time, but we still want to “do things up properly.”  And so, the 4th Annual 12th Night Giveaway Grand Prize is:

 

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Yup

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It is what you think it is.

It’s not in pristine condition, but if it had been, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it! The binding is loose, there’s a fair amount of foxing (brown spots on pages), that kind of thing, but it’s not in bad shape.  This volume contains two items of Sherlockian interest, the first being the Holmes story, “The Adventure of Silver Blaze.”  The second (and to me, possibly more exciting) article is a profile of Arthur Conan Doyle himself, complete with several photographs. Here, a glimpse of the contents:

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…of Isonomy stock

 

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It’s the picture!

 

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“A Day with Conan Doyle”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are actually a few more article tangentially related to Doyle, but I’ll let you discover those on your own. To enter the drawing for this prize, simply answer the following question:

 

Which of Sherlock Holmes’s deductions do you find the most brilliant? Tell us what it is, why you admire it, and where it can be found in the Canon.

 

As always, submit your answers via Facebook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment. Everyone is eligible, no matter how many times you’ve won in the past. Best of luck!  Now, go have some birthday cake!

 

 

 

 

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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 13

Life is a series of choices, one after another. Good, bad, and indifferent, and the world of Sherlock Holmes is no different. If you think about it, every story in the Canon begins, typically, with at least one very poor choice, and the resulting dilemma is only resolved when someone decides to make a better one–namely, consulting Sherlock Holmes.

NORW

The unhappy John Hector McFarlane is a prime example.

And good for them! For there is nothing sadder than a person who knows he should choose a different road, yet continues down the same perilous path, rather than admit that he was wrong.

I probably do that all the time–particularly when it comes to the consumption of chips, which I insist on buying, even though I know what will happen to them within, at most, 48 hours. Today, however, I found myself at a crossroads regarding today’s giveaway prize. Normally,  I choose and even buy them several months in advance, but for some reason, I just wasn’t happy with what I’d plan to offer today. Nt that there was anything wrong with it; it just didn’t seem right.

So, like many a client, I went looking for Sherlock Holmes. And I found him.

Complete Granada Blu-ray

Gentle reader, I have longed for years  to be able to offer the Granada Box Set as a giveaway prize, but it’s always been just a little (ok, a lot) too dear. But today, it was ON SALE, and so, once again the Great Detective has remitted his fee, at least in part. It’s Blu-Ray, and Region 1, so you will need to have the right kind of player, but if you do, here’s the question you need to answer to enter the drawing…

Speaking of John Hector McFarlane and “The Adventure of the Norwood Builder,” what plot point did the Granada writers change from the Canon record?  I am thinking of one incident in particular, but if you come up with another, that works, too!

 

Again, just submit your answer via Twitter DM, Facebook PM or blog comment, and best of luck to all!

 

 

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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 12

There are many myths perpetuated about Sherlock Holmes. People believe that he was in love with Irene Adler. They think he spent the entire Canon chasing Professor Moriarty, or that he never made a mistake.  Some people even believe that he has died.

yes thank you for your input.gif

This is what we think about that.

But one of the most egregious myths about our hero is perpetuated by Sherlockians, in virtually every film set of 221B Baker Street ever constructed. See if you can guess what it is….

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1951 Festival of Britain

 

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Basil Rathbone-1939

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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William Gillette-1916

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RDJ 221

Robert Downey, Jr–2009

bakerstreet

Benedict Cumberbatch–2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Freeman’s pillow-thumping, and RDJ’s meltdown notwithstanding, these versions of Holmes’ and Watson’s rooms all have one thing in common–one incorrect thing:  They are too neat. Sherlock Holmes, his flatmate informs us, was, in reality, an utter slob.

An anomaly which often struck me in the character of my friend Sherlock Holmes was that, although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind, and although also he affected a certain quiet primness of dress, he was none the less in his personal habits one of the most untidy men that ever drove a fellow-lodger to distraction.

He then goes on to mention the tobacco in the Persian slipper, the cigars in the coal scuttle, the jackknifed correspondence…but we know what he really means is this:

 

mrs-hudson-messy-room

One thing, however, he was always careful to keep in order: information. Whether it was kept hidden away in his brain attic, his indexes, his scrapbooks or his common-place books, he always knew where to lay his hand on that obscure fact about jellyfish, and could brag about his fine collection of “M’s.”

Order comes naturally to some people.

poirot

This gentleman, for example

For others of us, it is more challenging. But there is no reason not to have important information at your fingertips, where it belongs. Today’s prize is an excellent start in that direction.

the sherlock holmes book

 

Leslie Klinger’s Annotated Sherlock Holmes and The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library are wonderful sources for every Sherlockian bookshelf.  But they’re large, expensive, multi-volume works. This year, Mr. Klinger has put together a one-volume work for DK that has received excellent reviews. To get your chance to win a copy, just answer the question below:

Not every case Sherlock Holmes pursues turns out to be an actual crime. Name two Canon mysteries in which no laws were broken.

And, as always, submit your answers to me via blog comment, Facebook PM, or Twitter DM. Winners will be announced tomorrow!

 

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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 11

Sherlockpaget chemistry

Doing his research.

 

For a man so intimately connected with fiction, Sherlock Holmes is obsessed with fact. As he tells Watson, after reading A Study in Scarlet,

“Honestly, I cannot congratulate you upon it. Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science, and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid.” (SIGN)

euclid

“Oh, my darling,” he gasped, “If a line segment intersects two straight lines….”

 

Of course, we learn in “The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier” that Holmes came to accept that “the matter must be presented in such a way as may interest the reader,” but it’s probably not a huge leap of logic to suggest that he is much more comfortable with the non-fiction aspect of Sherlockian studies than with the world of pastiche.

There are so many ways to explore the truth behind Watson’s stories; I’ve reviewed some of them here, such as James O’Brien’s The Scientific Sherlock Holmes. One can read accounts of the Battle of Maiwand, a biography of Gladstone, or Salisbury, or Rosebery, or whoever that “high-nosed, eagle-eyed” official on the (“paper-littered”) settee of 221B might have been. Or , one can read about the phenomenon of Sherlock Holmes himself, in a book like this one–today’s prize:

dundas the great detective

To win a copy of Zach Dundas’s well-received look at Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Sherlockian world in general, simply enter your answer to this question in today’s drawing:

Despite his insistence on facts, Sherlock Holmes was actually well-acquainted with literature, including the works of William Shakespeare. Give  two Shakespearean references one can find in the Canon. Be sure to provide the names of the stories in which they appear!

As always, submit your answers via blog comment, Twitter DM or Facebook PM. The winner’s name will be announced following tomorrow’s drawing!

 

Congratulations!!

Congratulations to Chihui Yuan and Jacquelyn Applegate, both winners of the Sherlock: The Abominable Bride video! There were a lot of entries for this, which kind of surprised me, as there wasn’t a long wait between BBC and other showings like there usually is!

Answers to the brides question included:
Hattie Doran (NOBL)
Helen Stoner (SPEC)
Mary Sutherland (IDEN)
Violet Smith (SOLI)
Eva Blackwell (CHAS)
Irene Norton (SCAN)
Alice Rucastle (COPP)
Violet de Melville (ILLU)
and, of course, Mary Morstan (SIGN)

Answers for the Canon references included: Watson’s quoting lines from STUD; the 5 orange pips (FIVE); references to The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle; Watson’s clumsy and careless servant girl (SCAN).

Well done, all!!!

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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 10

So!  Have you seen it?  Have you? Have you?  And by “it,” I mean, of course….

Sherlock TAB

Be still, my heart.

Of course, I’m writing this post weeks ahead of schedule, so I have no idea  if this is the episode we’ve been looking for, but I can tell you that I am far more excited about it than the other hotly-anticipated media event of the season.*

I didn’t always feel this way about BBC Sherlock. I don’t watch a lot of television, so I missed it entirely when it came out, and just accidentally happened onto it on PBS one night. It was the scene in “The Blind Banker” where Soo Lin is telling her story to Sherlock and John in the museum, and it just…didn’t grab me at all. Several months later, I decided to try it again via iTunes, and I was hooked.  Completely.

The Sherlockian world is so very broad, and there are so many stories and films and aspects of the hobby that it can, I think, accommodate just about every possible interest. Which is wonderful, but it means that, while you may find collecting pastiche is your passion, someone else may only be enraptured with the Canon and a collection of vintage pipes. The woman sitting next to you at a scion meeting may be the slash queen of Tumblr, while you may run a blog centered around John Barrymore. The man who irritates you with his continual chronology arguments may share your desire to collect every Holmes figurine ever, even the weird mugs with faces.  What I’m trying to say is, appreciate others’ Holmesian interests, even if (and perhaps especially if) you don’t share them, and once  in awhile, step out and try something new. You may find you like it.

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Keep an open mind–like Anderson!

Which, of course leads us to today’s prize which is–shockingly–a DVD or Blu-Ray (your choice) of The Abominable Bride. This prize will be available to ship on January 12, and I will try to match your region if possible. Because not everyone will have seen the episode by today, we have a choice of questions:

Question 1: List three Canon references which appeared in Sherlock:The Abominable Bride. Be sure to include the story in which each appeared!

OR

Question 2: List 3 brides (or brides-to-be) whom Holmes helped in the Canon. Be sure to give the names of the stories in which they appear!

As always, send your answers via blog comment, Facebook PM or Twitter DM!  Good luck!

Sherlock TAB bluray

 

 

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Claire Danes, winner of the Otto Penzler volume of Sherlock Holmes short stories! The violin pieces submitted were: Hoffman’s Barcarolle (several times), the Chopin piece Holmes sings in STUD, Mendelssohn’s Lieder, “Gabrielle,” from “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes,” Sarasate’s program from REDH and, of course, Patrick Gower’s opening from Granada Holmes.

Footnotes:

*Sorry, my darling husband.

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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 9

 

McCutcheonNY1905

Harper’s Weekly

Happy 2016 Everyone!!!!!!

Because I’m writing this well in advance of the actual date, I haven’t seen any articles about New Years’ resolutions, but I imagine that for the past week the internet has been swimming in them. We tend to like new beginnings–they give us the opportunity to imagine our better selves and, occasionally, the chance to actually create them. So it is that when the calendar rolls over again, many of us make those little promises to ourselves. If you spent New Year’s Eve in church, you likely set some new spiritual goals.  If you spent it at a wild party, you may have one that involves less excess…or more ibuprofen.  If you’re a student starting a new semester, you may wish to study harder, become more organized, or go out for a team. If your clothes are too tight after the holidays, you likely want to purge the cabinets and go for a run.  If you’re a mom…you just wanna get through the rest of vacation with your sanity.

Its fun to shop as a family

No. No it isn’t.

Noble goals, all of them. But what about your Sherlockian self?  A post by a friend, Resa Haile, about future Sherlock Holmes projects got me wondering…. For many of us, being a fan of Sherlock Holmes is more than just enjoying the Canon (not that there’s anything wrong with that). There are plenty of 221B-related activities out there if you’re looking to branch out. This year could be your chance to:

  • Start a blog
  • Read a pastiche
  • Write a pastiche
  • Write a paper to submit to your local newsletter, The Serpentine Muse, or the Baker Street Journal
  • Write a book. Seriously. Do it.
  • Join a scion society
  • Start  a scion society
  • Go to a conference
  • Do some cosplay
  • Watch a film version you’ve never seen
  • Wear that deerstalker or that Sherlock t-shirt in public
  • Learn the violin
  • Get out of that shipboard pact–those never end well

 

If you’d like to start the new year with a new Holmes story, this is your chance, for today’s prize is a wonderful collection of pastiche, edited by the Grand Master of Mystery, Otto Penzler (founder of The Mysterious Press and owner of New York’s Mysterious Bookshop).  And as with most resolutions, the sooner you get started the better, so here’s today’s question:

If you were to learn the violin, which Sherlock Holmes-related piece would you want to try the most?

As always, send your answers via FaceBook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment, and I’ll rush this book off to the winner!

otto penzler anthology

 

Congratulations!

Well, the response to the Gillette giveaway was really tremendous! Congratulations to Karen Hayes! There was, of course, a huge number of actors to choose from. Entries mentioned:

John Barrymore
Clive Brooks (Jaime Mahoney’s very favorite, hahaha)
Harry Benham
Arthur Wontner
Eille Norwood
Tod Slaughter
Reginald Owen
Cecil Hardwicke
Raymond Massey
Robert Rendel
Georges Treville
H A Saintsbury
and, of course, William Gillette!

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