Diogenes Club Quick Quote Quiz Introduction

‘It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubbable men in town. No member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one.’

Diogenes Club Quick Quote Quiz

Hello Watsonians—

We invite you to participate in a new periodic feature: The Diogenes Club Quick Quote Quiz.  This little game requires no submission of answers to anyone—you are playing against yourself and the clock; it is not necessary for anyone else to take the least notice of what you do.

To play along:

–Read the quote from the Canon provided below.

–As quickly as you can, identify the speaker and the adventure featuring the quote.

–Note how long it took you to arrive at the answer.

–Scroll down a few inches to see if you have the correct answer.

–Leave a note in the comments, if you wish, about your answer and your time.

That’s it!  We are starting you off with one that may be easy as to the speaker, but how well can you remember which adventure it is from?  Imagine “Jeopardy” music in the background.

We hope you will enjoy playing.

Ron Lies/ JHWS ‘Chips’

Margie Deck/JHWS ‘Mopsy’

 

Quick Quote Quiz 5/10/2018:  “The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning.”

^

^

^

^

^

^

^

^

Answer: Sherlock Holmes, SIGN

TH6: Every Link Rings True 1-Question Pop Quiz Results & Answers

Hi Watsonians,

The 17th deadline for submissions for the 1-question pop quiz has passed, and the result feels a bit like the scene from “Casablanca”: Time to round up the usual suspects.  As before, Ron ‘Chips’ Lies and Sheila ‘Daisy’ Holtgrieve submitted perfect answers.

I hope a few more of you had some fun thinking about the possibilities.  Work continues on TH6: Every Link Rings True, and the final draft will be finished in a few weeks.  Having taken to heart the good response to the second TH warm up game, I am writing the hunt to closely match the style of the second game.

Time to get your teams ready!

Margie/ JHWS ‘Mopsy’

‘It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true.’

TH6: Every Link Rings True 4th Warm Up Quiz: 1 Big Question

Holmes and Watson once had very similar solo experiences—many years apart. Their descriptions of their individual experiences were marked by eerily similar loneliness, mystery, shadows, sundown, and fauna.  Where was Watson? What year was Watson there? Where was Holmes? What year was Holmes there? What fauna?

Answer—

Holmes: Bathing Pool, beach at Sussex Downs/1907/Sea-birds

Watson: Moor/1889/Gull or Curlew

Holmes

Date: ‘ It occurred after my withdrawal to my little Sussex home …Towards the end of July 1907, there was a severe gale, the wind blowing up-Channel, heaping the seas to the base of the cliffs, and leaving a lagoon at the turn of the tide.’

Event: ‘From The Gables I walked down to the bathing pool. The sun had sunk and the shadow of the great cliff lay black across the water, which glimmered dully like a sheet of lead. The place was deserted and there was no sign of life save for two Sea-birds circling and screaming overhead. In the fading light I could dimly make out the little dog’s spoor upon the sand round the very rock on which his master’s towel had been laid. For a long time I stood in deep meditation while the shadows grew darker around me.’ (LION)

Watson

Date: ‘To James Mortimer, MRCS, from his friends of the CCH’, was engraved upon it, with the date ‘1884’…. What was he, then? If he was in the hospital and yet not on the staff, he could only have been a house-surgeon or a house-physician – little more than a senior student. And he left five years ago – the date is on the stick’  (1884 + 5 = 1889)*

(*We realize there is some disagreement among the chronologists with this dating but we are electing to believe Sherlock Holmes.)

Event: ‘The sun was already sinking when I reached the summit of the hill, and the long slopes beneath me were all golden-green on one side and gray shadow on the other. A haze lay low upon the farthest sky-line, out of which jutted the fantastic shapes of Belliver and Vixen Tor. Over the wide expanse there was no sound and no movement. One great grey bird, a gull or curlew, soared aloft in the blue heaven. He and I seemed to be the only living things between the huge arch of the sky and the desert beneath it. The barren scene, the sense of loneliness, and the mystery and urgency of my task all struck a chill into my heart.’ (HOUN)

 

 

 

On May 7th…

May 7, 1902: Holmes confronted Sir Robert Norberton at the crypt. [SHOS]

Illustration by Frank Wiles for The Strand Magazine

Someone was walking in the chapel above. It was the firm, rapid step of one who came with a definite purpose, and knew well the ground upon which he walked. A light streamed down the stairs, and an instant later the man who bore it was framed in the Gothic archway. He was a terrible figure, huge in stature and fierce in manner. A large stable lantern which he held in front of him shone upwards upon a strong, heavily-moustached face and angry eyes, which glared round him into every recess of the vault, finally fixing themselves with a deadly stare upon my companion and myself.
“Who the devil are you?” he thundered. “And what are you doing upon my property?” Then, as Holmes returned no answer, he took a couple of steps forward and raised a heavy stick which he carried. “Do you hear me?” he cried. “Who are you? What are you doing here?” His cudgel quivered in the air.
But, instead of shrinking, Holmes advanced to meet him.
“I also have a question to ask you, Sir Robert,” he said in his sternest tone. “Who is this? And what is it doing here?”
He turned and tore open the coffin lid behind him. In the glare of the lantern I saw a body swathed in a sheet from head to foot, with dreadful, witch-like features, all nose and chin, projecting at one end, the dim glazed eyes staring from a discoloured and crumbling face.

Date information provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

Calling All Members

The Spring 2018 Watsonian is about to go to press. Print issues will be mailed directly from the printer, so now is the time to make sure your information is up to date! If you have changed mailing address since November, please let Selena Buttons know ASAP. (If you’ve already contacted us with your new address, thank you!)

If your membership expired at the end of 2017, you will not be on the mailing list for this new issue. We know you don’t want to miss out, so please take a moment to double-check your membership dates on the Members Page. If your membership ended in December 2017, pop over to the Shop to purchase a 2018 Membership. (If your membership is current through 6/18, there is a separate renewal available that lasts through the end of 2019. Please contact Selena Buttons for details.)

On May 4th…

Today is a day of great significance in the Canon. We give you these three events:

First…

May 4, 1847: John Ferrier and Lucy were rescued by the Mormons. [STUD]

Illustration by D H Friston

 

The rescuing party were speedily able to convince the two castaways that their appearance was no delusion. One of them seized the little girl and hoisted her upon his shoulder, while two others supported her gaunt companion, and assisted him towards the wagons.
“My name is John Ferrier,” the wanderer explained; “me and that little un are all that’s left o’ twenty-one people. The rest is all dead o’ thirst and hunger away down in the south.”
“Is she your child?” asked someone.
“I guess she is now,” the other cried, defiantly; “she’s mine ’cause I saved her. No man will take her from me. She’s Lucy Ferrier from this day on. Who are you, though?”

 

Second…

May 4, 1882: An advertisement seeking Mary Morstan’s address appeared in The Times. [SIGN]

Ann Bell as Mary Morstan (1968)

“I have not yet described to you the most singular part. About six years ago – to be exact, upon the 4th of May, 1882 – an advertisement appeared in The Times asking for the address of Miss Mary Morstan, and stating that it would be to her advantage to come forward. There was no name and address appended. I had at the time just entered the family of Mrs. Cecil Forrester in the capacity of governess. By her advice I published my address in the advertisement column. The same day there arrived through the post a small cardboard box addressed to me, which I found to contain a very large and lustrous pearl. No word of writing was enclosed. Since then every year upon the same date there has always appeared a similar box, containing a similar pearl, without any clue as to the sender. They have been pronounced by an expert to be of a rare variety and of considerable value. You can see for yourselves that they are very handsome.”

And FINAlly…
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist. -Selena Buttons)

May 4, 1891: Moriarty died in a plunge over the Reichenbach Falls. [FINA]

An examination by experts leaves little doubt that a personal contest between the two men ended, as it could hardly fail to end in such a situation, in their reeling over, locked in each other’s arms. Any attempt at recovering the bodies was absolutely hopeless, and there, deep down in that dreadful cauldron of swirling water and seething foam, will lie for all time the most dangerous criminal and the foremost champion of the law of their generation.

 

 

Date provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

TH6: Every Link Rings True 1-Question Pop Quiz

Hello Watsonians,

I know I promised to be quiet for awhile, but while working on TH6 I came across an interesting serendipity.  While my happy discovery ultimately proved unworkable as part of the actual treasure hunt, it is perfect for a one-(big)-question pop quiz.  I hope you will agree, and decide to give this one a go.

Answers should be submitted to treasurehunt@johnhwatsonsociety.com no later than May 17.

Now, back to it…

Margie/  JHWS ‘Mopsy’

‘It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true.’

Holmes and Watson once had very similar solo experiences—many years apart. Their descriptions of their individual experiences were marked by eerily similar loneliness, mystery, shadows, sundown, and fauna.

Where was Watson? What year was Watson there?

Where was Holmes? What year was Holmes there?

What fauna?

Helpful hint: Sherlock Holmes once told Dr. Watson: “We are moving in exalted circles.” Do not let the circles go over your head.

On April 30th…

April 30, 1895: Violet Smith was kidnapped. [SOLI]

Holmes threw the reins into my lap and sprang down from the cart.
“You’re the man we want to see. Where is Miss Violet Smith?” he said, in his quick, clear way.

“That’s what I am asking you. You’re in her dogcart. You ought to know where she is.”

“We met the dogcart on the road. There was no one in it. We drove back to help the young lady.”

“Good Lord! Good Lord! What shall I do?” cried the stranger, in an ecstasy of despair. “They’ve got her, that hellhound Woodley and the blackguard parson. Come, man, come, if you really are her friend. Stand by me and we’ll save her, if I have to leave my carcass in Charlington Wood.”

April 30, 1895: Bob Carruthers shot Jack Woodley. [SOLI]

His revolver cracked, and I saw the blood spurt from the front of Woodley’s waistcoat. He spun round with a scream and fell upon his back, his hideous red face turning suddenly to a dreadful mottled pallor. The old man, still clad in his surplice, burst into such a string of foul oaths as I have never heard, and pulled out a revolver of his own, but before he could raise it he was looking down the barrel of Holmes’s weapon.

 

Some date information provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On April 29th…

April 29, 1902 (or thereabouts): Sir Robert Norberton gave away his sister’s pet spaniel. [SHOS]

“Jasper” in Granada’s “Shoscombe Old Place”

“When did Sir Robert give away his sister’s dog?”

“It was just a week ago today. The creature was howling outside the old well-house, and Sir Robert was in one of his tantrums that morning. He caught it up, and I thought he would have killed it. Then he gave it to Sandy Bain, the jockey, and told him to take the dog to old Barnes at the Green Dragon, for he never wished to see it again.”

Date information provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On April 28th…

April 28, 1895: Holmes received a note from Violet Smith saying that she was leaving her job. [SOLI]

The Thursday brought us another letter from our client. “You will not be surprised, Mr. Holmes”, said she, “to hear that I am leaving Mr. Carruthers’ employment. Even the high pay cannot reconcile me to the discomforts of my situation. On Saturday I come up to town, and I do not intend to return. Mr. Carruthers has got a trap, and so the dangers of the lonely road, if there ever were any dangers, are now over.

Some date information provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot (Book Review)

Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot

edited by Michael A. Ventrella & Jonathan Maberry
Diversion Books (April 24 2018)
270 p. ISBN 978-1635763775

Publisher’s Summary

Thirteen authors, including Narrelle M. Harris, Jody Lynn Nye, and Sarah Stegall, come together in the second edition of Baker Street Irregulars to pen an original collection of short stories on the iconic and timeless character, Sherlock Holmes. 

In this new edition of Baker Street Irregulars, a cast of authors riff on the iconic figure of Sherlock Holmes in over a dozen captivating new ways. In Keith DeCandido’s “Six Red Dragons,” Sherlock is a young girl in modern New York City. In Sarah Stegall’s “Papyrus,” Sherlock is a female librarian in ancient Egypt. In Daniel M. Kimmel’s mesmerizing “A Scandal in Chelm,” Sherlock is a rabbi. Derek Beebe sends Sherlock to the moon, while Mike Strauss, in “The Adventure of the Double Sized Final Issue,” casts him as a comic book character. The backdrops run the gamut from a grade school classroom to Jupiter, from rural, post-Civil War to an alien spaceship. While preserving the timeless charm and intrigue of Sherlock Holmes, these authors pen stories of the world’s greatest detective as you’ve never seen him before.

General Review

The Baker Street Irregulars: The Game’s Afoot is the second Holmesian anthology that Michael A. Ventrella and Jonathan Maberry have edited, the first being The Baker Street Irregulars.  In both volumes, authors write stories about Holmes and Watson reimagined, whether in a different time, a different gender, a different species, etc.  It isn’t a new concept, as far as anthologies go; some may remember the anthology Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets, edited by Guy Adams and David Thomas Moore, which came out in 2014.

Anthologies are always a bit tricky, because inevitably there are a few weaker stories amongst the strong ones—presuming there are strong ones at all, which is not always a guarantee.  Happily, this anthology contains a number of stories that I felt were exceptionally strong, and a few that I desperately wish were much longer.  I wouldn’t rate any of the stories as complete duds, though there were one or two that I didn’t enjoy as much.

Before I give certain stories individual reviews, I would like to point out one flaw with this anthology that rankled as I read: the lack of diversity amongst the authors.  Although I cannot say for certain, it appeared that all the authors in this anthology were white, something I find disappointing to encounter.  Given that the anthology was made up of a wide range of authorial backgrounds (none are traditional Holmesian pastiche authors, for instance), I wouldn’t have thought it terribly difficult to ensure that authors of color were included.  I truly hope that as more Holmesian anthologies are put together, a stronger effort will be put into making sure a diverse range of identities are represented.

Now for a few thoughts on individual stories…

One of my favourites in the anthology was “The Adventure of the Diode Detective,” written by Jody Lynn Nye.  In this story, Holmes and Watson are… wait for it… apps.  Sure-Lock Homes is a security app.  What’s-On? is a social app, combining ideas like Netflix, MeetUp, and Facebook into one place.  When I read the premise to my husband, he raised an eyebrow and said “yeah, how is that going to work?” which was my thought as well- and yet it did.  Not only was the entire thing witty and clever, it was also incredibly well-plotted.  It was nicely paced, with a true arc to the story.  My husband ended up reading over my shoulder, which (as a non-Holmesian) never happens.  I LOVED this story.  I thought the author did a magnificent job in capturing the personalities of Holmes and Watson as apps (they are, in case you are wondering, very AI-driven, which helps), showing how concerned they are for their owner and how far they’ll go to protect her.  And of course, the ending is one that any Watsonian will love.

I also thoroughly enjoyed “Papyrus” by Sarah Stegell.  In this story, which takes place in ancient Egypt, Holmes is Seshet, the Royal Librarian, and Watson is Raneb, who is a First Rank physician from the Black Land, on a mission to save his home from given to a different Temple.  While I can’t comment on the accuracy of the setting (my gut says that historical details were fudged for the sake of adventure), it was an engaging story, with court politics and a nicely crafted mystery surrounding a land deed.  I would love to see an entire novel, or even series, crafted from this short story, as Seshet and Raneb made an excellent team, with phenomenal chemistry.  Raneb is instantly fascinated by Seshet, and dives into her world with only the slightest of hesitations.  I want to see their partnership grow, and more of how a Holmes and Watson would navigate Egypt in the time of pharaohs.

I appreciated Hildy Silverman’s “My Dear Wa’ats” in which Holmes and Watson are aliens; She’er is the Captain of a spaceship, after having served in law enforcement, where their spouse, Wa’ats, still works.  They meet again when Wa’ats boards She’er’s vessel, searching for the criminal Mori.  The author manages to pack in a lot of worldbuilding in a very small story, but never did I feel like I was just being given an infodump on the world; instead, it felt organic, information flowing naturally as characters reflected on it.  The conflict in this story is as much personal as it is about the crime, but the crime and, specifically, the criminal, is SO fascinating.  There were some weak moments in this story, largely regarding gender role assumptions and some occasionally sloppy editing, but I would love to see an entire series set in this world, with She’er and Wa’ats.

My final favourite of the anthology was Gordon Linzner’s “Sin-Eater and the Adventure of Ginger Mary.”  Darker in tone than many of the other stories, Linzner’s tale takes place in Appalachia, post-Civil War.  Our Watson is Salali, a Native American woman (as a note: I have no knowledge on Linzner’s background, nor if this story was looked over by someone who is Native; I cannot speak on whether or not Salali and her husband Dagatoga are decent representation) while our Holmes is Cavish, the town outcast and, secretly, sin eater.  The mystery revolves around the death of a child, originally presumed a suicide and discovered to be a murder.  It is a mournful, haunting little story, one that manages to encompass a full investigation (excellently done) while also showing us the give-and-pull of Salali and Cavish’s odd, but deep, friendship.

Though these four stories were my favourites, there were certainly other ones that were well-written and others may prefer.  Some notables include “A Very Important Nobody” by Chuck Regan (in which Holmes is named Theramin Joules!); “The Problem of Three Journals” by Narrelle M. Harris (in which Holmes and Watson are hipster baristas); and “The Affair of the Green Crayon” (in which Holmes and Watson teach elementary school).

Overall, I did not regret reading this anthology, something I cannot always say.  There were certainly a few weaker stories, but I didn’t feel like any of them were bad, and none of them made me throw my Nook across the room in irritation.  And some of these stories were so excellent that I secretly hope the authors fell in love with their premises so that they can expand the story into a full length novel.  Until then, I suppose I’ll just have to get my own copy of this book (mine is an ARC, provided by NetGalley) and keep reading the short versions.

What About Our Watson?

There are thirteen stories in this anthology and, as such, thirteen different takes on Watson.  I had one earlier caveat, about the lack of racial diversity amongst the authors, and here is my second caveat for this anthology: if you want to read about new and fascinating Watsons, you may be a bit stymied.  While there were many, many intriguing Watsons, much of the world building really took place around the Holmes, with Watson being a bit of an afterthought.  There were some exceptions.  Two of my favourite stories, “My Dear Wa’ats” and “Sin-Eater and the Adventure of Ginger Mary” each had a Watson with their own internal life, their own hopes and dreams, their own ambitions.  Another Watson that came across as having a life of their own was our Watson in “A Study in Space”.  But because the authors were all having to create and explain a whole new Holmesian setting, our Watsons were largely relegated to being narrators, with occasional personal snippets thrown in.

I don’t necessarily think this is true failure; certainly, Watson in canon tells us all of three paragraphs about himself before he starts delving into how cool his new roommate is.  But when one has a canon knowledge of Watson, it can be a bit of a shock to go back to STUD again and again and again in terms of characterization.

This is another reason I’d like to see some of these authors expand their stories.  I think several of them have a really good grasp on what a Watson can be, but were restricted by page/word limits.  It would be lovely to see their characters return, perhaps in a future anthology.  My understanding is that one author, Keith R.A. DeCandido, actually did this in the anthology; his characters Jack Watson and Shirley Holmes are actually continued over from his story “Identity”, which appeared in the first anthology by Maberry and Ventrella.  It would be great to see some of these authors do the same, whether by writing more short stories for this anthology series, or striking out on their own.

You Might Like This Book If You Like:

Short stories; science fiction; intriguing world building; something new

Is there a book you want Lucy to review? Let her know!  Contact the Society and they’ll pass your request along.

TH6: Every Link Rings True 3rd Warm Up Game Results and Answers

Hello Watsonians,

The 3rd TH6 warm-up game proved to be quite challenging.  Two of our intrepid quiz masters managed to correctly answer all five questions after a few strategy discussions. Congratulations to Sheila ‘Daisy’ Holtgrieve and Ron ‘Chips’ Lies for a job well done.

I want to thank all of you who took the time to participate in the three warm up games.  Each game helped me to better understand which puzzle types work best; my goal is to write a hunt that is challenging and fun. If time permits, we might have one more warm up game closer to the August hunt.

As always, I appreciate your participation and enthusiasm.

Margie/ JHWS ‘Mopsy’

‘It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true.’

  1. According to Holmes, these prevent the world from being dull. What?

Answer: lunatics

‘I was wondering whether he could have buried something. Of course, when people bury treasure nowadays they do it in the Post Office bank. But there are always some lunatics about. It would be a dull world without them.’ (3GAB)

2.Probably a (answer to number one) broke it to atoms. What?

Answer: bust of Napoleon

‘’In Kennington Road, and within a few hundred yards of Morse Hudson’s shop, there lives a well-known medical practitioner, named Dr Barnicot,..Some little time ago he purchased from Morse Hudson two duplicate plaster casts of the famous head of Napoleon by the French sculptor Devine. One of these he placed in his hall in the house at Kennington Road, and the other on the mantelpiece of the surgery at Lower Brixton.…Dr Barnicot was due at his surgery at twelve o’clock, and you can imagine his amazement when, on arriving there, he found that the window had been opened in the night, and that the broken pieces of his second bust were strewn all over the room.  It had been smashed to atoms where it stood.  In neither case were there any signs which could give us a clue as to the criminal or lunatic who had done the mischief.’ (SIXN)

  1. With the (answer to number two) in mind, count the pieces in the container. How many?

Answer: two thousand

‘We had occasion some months ago to strengthen our resources, and borrowed, for that purpose, thirty thousand Napoleons from the Bank of France.  It has become known that we have never had occasion to unpack the money, and that it is still lying in our cellar.  The crate upon which I sit contains two thousand Napoleons packed between layers of lead foil. Our reserve of bullion is much larger at present than is usually kept in a single branch office, and the directors have had misgivings upon the subject.’ (REDH)

  1. Value (the answer to number three) times a hundred to determine who proposed a bribe which Holmes found amusing. Who?

Answer:  Killer Evans

‘Yes, sir,’ said our prisoner, staggering slowly to his feet and then sinking into the chair.  ‘The greatest counterfeiter London ever saw. That’s Prescott’s machine, and those bundles on the table are two thousand of Prescott’s notes worth a hundred each and fit to pass anywhere. Help yourselves, gentlemen. Call it a deal and let me beat it. ‘Holmes laughed. ‘We don’t do things like that, Mr Evans.’…So those are the facts about Killer Evans and his remarkable invention of the three Garridebs. (3GAR)

  1. Someone with the same surname as (answer to number four) and someone else sailed together on at least two different vessels. The life of the someone else was defined by two sets of initials. Who? What initials?

Answer: Old Trevor, J.P., J.A.

‘Old Trevor was evidently a man of some wealth and consideration, a J.P. and a landed proprietor… ‘”And you have been most intimately associated with someone whose initials were J.A., and whom you afterwards were eager to entirely forget.’

‘My name, dear lad, is not Trevor. I was James Armitage in my younger days, and you can understand now the shock that it was to me a few weeks ago when your college friend addressed me in words which seemed to imply that he had surmised my secret…’

‘I did so, and found my other neighbour to be a young fellow in much the same position as myself, whose crime had been forgery. His name was Evans but he afterwards changed it, like myself, and he is now a rich and prosperous man in the South of England.’

‘Next day we were picked up by the brig Hotspur, bound for Australia, whose captain found no difficulty in believing that we were the survivors of a passenger ship which had foundered.  The transport ship, Gloria Scott, was set down by the Admiralty as being lost at sea, and no word has ever leaked out as to her true fate. After an excellent voyage the Hotspur landed us at Sydney, where Evans and I changed our names and made our way to the diggings, where among the crowds who were gathered from all nations, we had no difficulty in losing our former identities.  (GLOR)

Helpful Hint— Sherlock Holmes said, “Education never ends, Watson.”  See where it leads the party.

‘Our boat lay, rising and falling, upon the long, smooth rollers, and Evans and I, who were the most educated of the party, were sitting in the sheets working out our position and planning what coast we should make for…’ (GLOR)

On April 13th…

… or thereabouts; the canonical date is “the early spring”.

Friedrich illustration of Violet sitting in front of the window.

Illustration by Josef Friedrich

April 13, 1890: Violet Hunter sat in the window seat for the second time [COPP]

“Two days later this same performance was gone through under exactly similar circumstances. Again I changed my dress, again I sat in the window, and again I laughed very heartily at the funny stories of which my employer had an immense repertoire, and which he told inimitably. Then he handed me a yellow-backed novel, and, moving my chair a little sideways, that my own shadow might not fall upon the page, he begged me to read aloud to him. I read for about ten minutes, beginning in the heart of a chapter, and then suddenly, in the middle of a sentence, he ordered me to cease and change my dress.”

Source
A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes according to Ziesler and Christ by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI.

On April 11th…

… or thereabouts, the canonical date is in “the early spring”.

April 11, 1890: Violet Hunter in window seat for the first time. [COPP]

Friedrich illustration of Violet Hunter sitting in front of the window.

Illustration by Josef Friedrich

“A chair had been placed close to the central window, with its back turned towards it. In this I was asked to sit, and then Mr. Rucastle, walking up and down on the other side of the room, began to tell me a series of the funniest stories that I have ever listened to. You cannot imagine how comical he was, and I laughed until I was quite weary. Mrs. Rucastle, however, who has evidently no sense of humor, never so much as smiled, but sat with her hands in her lap, and a sad, anxious look upon her face. After an hour or so, Mr. Rucastle suddenly remarked that it was time to commence the duties of the day, and that I might change my dress, and go to little Edward in the nursery.”

Source
A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes according to Ziesler and Christ by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI.

On April 8th…

April 8, 1897: Holmes and Watson arrived in Poldu Bay, Cornwall. [DEVI]

“Cove and Point” © Copyright Jonathan Billinger and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

It was, then, in the spring of the year 1897 that Holmes’s iron constitution showed some symptoms of giving way in the face of constant hard work of a most exacting kind, aggravated, perhaps, by occasional indiscretions of his own. In March of that year Dr. Moore Agar, of Harley Street, whose dramatic introduction to Holmes I may some day recount, gave positive injunctions that the famous private agent would lay aside all his cases and surrender himself to complete rest if he wished to avert an absolute breakdown. The state of his health was not a matter in which he himself took the faintest interest, for his mental detachment was absolute, but he was induced at last, on the threat of being permanently disqualified from work, to give himself a complete change of scene and air. Thus it was that in the early spring of that year we found ourselves together in a small cottage near Poldhu Bay, at the farther extremity of the Cornish peninsula.

Date information provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

Clarification for TH6: Every Link Rings True 3rd Warm Up Game

Hi Watsonians–

I have heard the 3rd TH6 Warm-Up Game may be a bit too….ambiguous. To help correct the situation, I have added four words to the game.  These four words should make solving the thing much easier.

Since a change is being made, the deadline to submit answers is changed as well.  Please send your answers to treasurehunt@johnhwatsonsociety.com no later than April 15.

Your obedient servant,

Margie/ ‘Mopsy’

‘It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true.’

1. According to Holmes, these prevent the world from being dull. What?

2. Probably a (answer to number one) broke it to atoms. What?

3. With the (answer to number two) in mind, count the pieces in the container. How many?

4. Value (the answer to number three) times a hundred to determine who proposed a bribe which Holmes found amusing.  Who?

5. A person with the same surname as (answer to number four) and ‘someone else’ sailed together on at least two different vessels.  The life of the’ someone else’ was defined by two sets of initials.  Who is ‘someone else’?  What initials?

Helpful Hint— Sherlock Holmes said, “Education never ends, Watson.”  See where it leads the party.

TH6: Every Link Rings True 3rd Warm Up Game

Hello Watsonians!

Last month, we had some fun with a practice game in anticipation of the annual Treasure Hunt.  Participation was good, and I received some nice comments.  Want to try another one?

You will find below five questions for the 3rd practice  round for TH6:Every Link Rings True .  Please do not post any answers here; send answers to treasurehunt@johnhwatsonsociety.com.  Answers are due no later than April 11th.

Good luck!

Margie/JHWS ‘Mopsy’

‘It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true.’

1. According to Holmes, these prevent the world from being dull. What?

2. Probably a (answer to number one) broke it. What?

3. With the (answer to number two) in mind, count the pieces in the container. How many?

4. Value (the answer to number three) times a hundred to determine who proposed a bribe which Holmes found amusing.  Who?

5. A person with the same surname as (answer to number four) and ‘someone else’ sailed together on at least two different vessels.  The life of the’ someone else’ was defined by two sets of initials.  Who is ‘someone else’?  What initials?

Helpful Hint— Sherlock Holmes said, “Education never ends, Watson.”  See where it leads.

TH6: Every Link Rings True 2nd Warm Up Game Answers

Hi All–

‘Roxie’ (Sandy Kozinn) kindly reminded me that I failed to post the answers to the game when I posted the results last week.  Sorry about that.  Please see below.

Thank for the interest!

Margie/ JHWS ‘Mopsy’

1. According to Watson, Holmes never stood here. Where?

Answer: the dock

Such extenuating circumstances came out in the trial that the sentence, as will be remembered, was the lowest that was possible for such an offence. Sherlock Holmes was threatened with a prosecution for burglary, but when an object is good and a client is sufficiently illustrious, even the rigid British law becomes human and elastic. My friend has not yet stood in the dock. (ILLU)

2. Find the slip of a girl who prevented her friend from standing where Holmes never stood. Who?

Answer: Miss Morrison

It was not easy to pick one’s steps, but on the whole I was inclined to dismiss the idea that there had been anything between the Colonel and Miss Morrison, but more than ever convinced that the young lady held the clue as to what it was which had turned Mrs Barclay to hatred of her husband.  I took the obvious course, therefore, of calling upon Miss Morrison, of explaining to her that I was perfectly certain that she held the facts in her possession, and of assuring her that her friend, Mrs Barclay, might find herself in the dock upon a capital charge unless the matter were cleared up. Miss Morrison is a little, ethereal slip of a girl, with timid eyes and blonde hair, but I found her by no means wanting in shrewdness and common sense. She sat thinking for some time after I had spoken, and then turning to me with a brisk air of resolution, she broke into a remarkable statement, which I will condense for your benefit. (CROO)

3. A lady with an identical surname to [the answer to question two] was mentioned only once as part of a well-baited trap. Who?

Answer: Annie Morrison

‘It is very much the sort of thing that I expected,’ said he. ‘Of course, we do not yet know what the relations may have been between Alec Cunningham, William Kirwan, and Annie Morrison. The result shows that the trap was skillfully baited. (REIG)

Tracey, Encyclopedia Sherlockiana, p. 248: Morrison, Annie, a woman mentioned in the note from the Cunninghams to William Kirwin, though her role in the case is uncertain.

4. A lady with the same first name as [the answer to question three] had a brother who did not think Holmes was very clever after all. Which brother?

Answer: Joseph Harrison

‘Of course you saw the “J. H.” monogram on my locket,’ said he.  ‘For a moment I thought you had done something clever.  Joseph Harrison is my name, and as Percy is to marry my sister Annie, I shall at least be a relation by marriage.  You will find my sister in his room, for she has nursed him hand-and-foot these two months back.  Perhaps we had better go in at once, for I know how impatient he is.’ (NAVA)

5. With the first name of [the answer to question four] in mind, look in the pocket and find the poet. Who?

Answer: Giovanni Boccaccio

‘’You’re sure it doesn’t simplify them?’ observed Holmes.  ‘There’s nothing to be learned by staring at it. What did you find in his pockets?’ ‘We have it all here,’ said Gregson, pointing to a litter of objects upon one of the bottom steps of the stairs ‘A gold watch, No. 97163, by Barraud, of London. ..No purse, but loose money to the extent of seven pounds thirteen. Pocket edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron, with name of Joseph Stangerson upon the fly-leaf. Two letters – one addressed to E. J. Drebber and one to Joseph Stangerson.’ (STUD)

Wikipedia: Giovanni Boccaccio (/boʊˈkɑːtʃioʊ, bə-, -tʃoʊ/; Italian: [dʒoˈvanni bokˈkattʃo]; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375)[1] was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanist. Boccaccio wrote a number of notable works, including The Decameron and On Famous Women. He wrote his imaginative literature mostly in the Italian vernacular, as well as other works in Latin, and is particularly noted for his realistic dialogue which differed from that of his contemporaries, medieval writers who usually followed formulaic models for character and plot.

Helpful hint: Do not look in Holmes’s pocket

‘No, sir, I shall approach this case from the point of view that what this young man says is true, and we shall see whither that hypothesis will lead us. And now here is my pocket Petrarch, and not another word shall I say of this case until we are on the scene of action. We lunch at Swindon, and I see that we shall be there in twenty minutes.’ (BOSC)

 

 

A Study in Honor (Book Review)

A Study in Honor

by Claire O’Dell
Harper Voyager (July 31, 2018)
304 p. ISBN 9780062699305

Publisher’s Summary

Set in a near future Washington, D.C., a clever, incisive, and fresh feminist twist on a classic literary icon—Sherlock Holmes—in which Dr. Janet Watson and covert agent Sara Holmes will use espionage, advanced technology, and the power of deduction to unmask a murderer targeting Civil War veterans.

Dr. Janet Watson knows firsthand the horrifying cost of a divided nation. While treating broken soldiers on the battlefields of the New Civil War, a sniper’s bullet shattered her arm and ended her career. Honorably discharged and struggling with the semi-functional mechanical arm that replaced the limb she lost, she returns to the nation’s capital, a bleak, edgy city in the throes of a fraught presidential election. Homeless and jobless, Watson is uncertain of the future when she meets another black and queer woman, Sara Holmes, a mysterious yet playfully challenging covert agent who offers the doctor a place to stay.

Watson’s readjustment to civilian life is complicated by the infuriating antics of her strange new roommate. But the tensions between them dissolve when Watson discovers that soldiers from the New Civil War have begun dying one by one—and that the deaths may be the tip of something far more dangerous, involving the pharmaceutical industry and even the looming election. Joining forces, Watson and Holmes embark on a thrilling investigation to solve the mystery—and secure justice for these fallen soldiers.

General Review

I think most people could guess by now that I love twists on the classic Holmes story.  While I do enjoy the more traditional pastiche—give me a Lyndsay Faye story any day!—there is something that continues to intrigue me about pastiches that do something different to our characters.  Holmes and Watson were, after all, men of their time, even if they were eccentric.  Pastiches that throw them into different times, different genders, different sexualities, different abilities help shine a light on what makes a Holmes and a Watson intrinsically Holmes-and-Watson, in my mind; they are conductors of light.

One can imagine my sheer and utter excitement when, while doing my monthly search for upcoming Holmesian novels, I found A Study in Honor on the list.  Holmes and Watson in the near (somewhat dystopian, utterly plausible) future, as Black queer women?  I am pretty sure I screamed myself hoarse, and then proceeded to digitally scream on my twitter and Facebook and tumblr.  I hopped right over to Edelweiss, which had ARCs available, and requested it.  When I didn’t hear back right away, I requested it again.  And also reached out to the author to squeal at her.  Thankfully, Edelweiss came through, and I soon had a fresh, shiny ARC on my Nook.

I plowed this book in a day.  I considered savoring it, taking my time with it, but I just couldn’t.  The characters were too fascinating; the plot was too intense.  O’Dell has created an amazing pastiche, and I cannot recommend it enough.

The worldbuilding is, in some ways, sparse—O’Dell doesn’t spend a lot of time providing an info dump, especially given the book takes place in the near future.  Yet despite the sparse worldbuilding, it all works, because of how close it takes place to our present.  The things described are all too plausible, all too real, for better or worse.  A second Civil War is happening when the book opens.  Janet Watson is a veteran of that war, her arm destroyed in the fighting and fitted with a prosthetic that feels only one generation removed from current prosthetic advancements (and, in many ways, doesn’t quite live up to current prosthetic science, as Janet is given one that doesn’t quite suit her; much of her struggle throughout the book is navigating the VA, trying to get a prosthetic that actually works correctly for her, something we’ve all certainly read about or perhaps personally experienced).  Sara Holmes has a device that allows the Internet to be downloaded right into her brain, something that seems too real as things like Google Glass come onto the market; it’s not too far a stretch to imagine that soon we’ll just have implants in our head.

Sara Holmes herself is an enigma, at times frustratingly so.  I wish there had been a more explicit conversation about what, precisely, she does, as I found the secrecy around her work confusing for the reader, and not just for Janet, but despite that issue, I found her utterly charming.  I can easily see someone falling under her spell and being endlessly intrigued by her.  I loved the updates to the classic Holmes; I can absolutely see Victorian Holmes wanting implants that would give him access to all the information in the world.  I was tickled by the fact that Sara Holmes plays the piano, rather than the violin.  Her solicitous nature with Janet was adorable.  Though Watsons are always intrigued by Holmeses, it’s so rare to really see, in depth, a Holmes intrigued by a Watson, as Sara clearly is with Janet.  And her masterful quality was hilarious, especially since it always put Janet on her back foot.

I will fully admit that I found the plot somewhat convoluted at times.  I think a second read through would make things clearer to me, and others may not have that problem; as I said, I read this book so quickly, I could easily have missed things.  Despite knowing that I missed things, I found the mystery absolutely heart-wrenching.  I don’t want to get into it much, as I feel like anything I write about it leads to spoilers, but the victims are what drive the case, and drive Janet the entire time.  Her determination to give them justice drove the story.  It was wonderfully done, and I still tear up when I think of Belinda Diaz.

I would like to add in a good word for the secondary characters as well.  Jacob Bell, RN Roberta Thompson, Saul Martinez, even the weasely Terrence Smith, are richly drawn.  I would love to see some of them become recurring characters, because I loved them as much as I loved Janet and Sara.

There are two particular things I want to mention about this book that might give people pause.  It is a very political book, and if you are looking to escape politics for the time being, you may wish to consider this; and most importantly, this book about two queer Black women is written by a white woman.  As a white woman myself, I do not feel qualified to say if she did well by the characters in terms of their race.  However, here is what I do know: O’Dell’s editor is Amber Oliver, a Black woman; she lists having taken a Writing the Other workshop in her acknowledgements; she had many readers look over her book.  It does appear she has done some work in trying to avoid stereotypes and poor representation.

I am very much looking forward to owning a copy of this book when it comes out in July.  I suspect it will take a place of honour on my Sherlock Holmes shelves, as it’s certainly one of the most ambitious and intriguing pastiches I’ve read in a while.

What About Our Watson?

This is entirely Janet Watson’s book.  I have read a number of fine Watsons in my goal of providing reviews for the Society.  Some of them have even been excellent.  But Janet really takes the cake, because she isn’t a strong-willed narrator of Holmes’ adventures, as so frequently happens.  Instead, Janet is entirely her own person, with her own hopes and dreams and loves and history outside of Holmes, and the book focuses on her struggles and desires as she steps into a realm that has always been helmed by a Holmes.

I want to spend a moment on Watson as a war veteran.  One of my ongoing… I won’t say frustrations, but perhaps disappointments, is that pastiche writers don’t do more with Watson post-war.  I have always wanted to see a Watson with a more consistent war wound than ACD gave him, one that impacts him in a real way.  I’ve also always hoped that some writer (whether of a book or a film/TV show) would explore the idea of Watson having PTSD, as there is certainly fodder for such in canon.  I’ve seen the occasional pastiche or adaptation make an attempt, but across the board, it’s been rather half-hearted.  A Study in Honor, though, stares unflinchingly at Janet Watson’s war wounds, both physical and mental.  Much of Janet’s internal conflict comes from her struggles to get a prosthesis that actually works, and her turmoil over losing her arm and learning to adapt in a world that has little interest in adapting for her.  Her PTSD is visceral, in a way that I finally recognize, with certain sounds, phrases, smells, triggering flashbacks and memories.  She regularly sees a therapist, and opens up to her, attempting to heal and thrive, rather than remain stuck in her survival instincts.  The depiction of trauma in this book, with Janet and with others, is raw and hard and beautifully done.

Janet is also a woman who takes no shit from her Holmes, which everyone knows I’m a sucker for.  I like a Watson who is willing to push back, to demand respect, to even yell at times at a Holmes.  I like a Watson who won’t be steamrolled.  Janet is that kind of Watson.  While she concedes certain battles (I teared up about the journal), she is also willing to fight back against Holmes and her casual acceptance that she’s in control at all times.  I loved the ongoing sneakiness over the text device, for example, and Watson’s dismissal of the gifts that Holmes continued to offer.  I laughed heartily over her continued rejection of Holmes’ pet names for her.  Janet Watson clearly trusts Sara Holmes, but also refuses to blithely accept her word; she wants answers and explanations, and demands them when Sara is less than immediately forthcoming.

Janet is deeply loyal, to her patients, to her military comrades, and Holmes, as well as compassionate; she is also tenacious and stubborn, qualities I do love in a Watson.  Her determination to heal, to solve the case, to bring justice to the victims is present throughout the entire story.  I can think of nothing better to sum it up than to provide a quote from Janet’s journal (journaling is important throughout the entire book; we frequently get to read Janet’s journal as she writes it): “I WILL HAVE MY VICTORY. I WILL HAVE MY LIFE BACK. I SWEAR IT.”

I really can’t ask for more from my Watsons.  Janet is an absolute treat, and I think any Watsonian will love her.

You Might Like This Book If You Like:

Dystopian futures; recovery stories; tough yet vulnerable women protagonists; conspiracy theories

Is there a book you want Lucy to review? Let her know!  Contact the Society and they’ll pass your request along.

TH6: Every Link Rings True 2nd Warm Up Game Results

Hello Watsonians,

The time has passed to submit answers for our second TH6:Every Link Rings True warm-up game.  Responses to this game came quickly, with our ‘Calder’ /Brad Keefauver sending the answers almost before I posted the questions.  He was fast and 100% accurate.

Several others quickly followed with correct answers as well: Roger Johnson/ ‘Count’, Richard Olken/ ‘Palmer’, Denny Dobry, Paul Harnett/ ‘Scout’, Sheila Holtgrieve/ ‘Daisy’, Beth Gallego/ ‘Selena’, Ron Lies/ ‘Chips’, and Michele Lopez/ ‘Reggie’

Congratulations to all of you for a game well-played!  You are all in fine form for the 2018 Treasure Hunt.  I will be back soon with another small warm-up challenge.

Many thanks for playing!

Margie/ JHWS ‘Mopsy’

‘It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true.’