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.’

On March 8th…

Frank Wiles illustration of VALL epilogue

‘I’ve had bad news — terrible news, Mr. Holmes’ [illustration by Frank Wiles for The Strand magazine, 1915]

March 8, 1888: Holmes learned that Jack Douglas had been lost at sea. [VALL]

“No, I don’t say that,” said Holmes, and his eyes seemed to be looking far into the future. “I don’t say that he can’t be beat. But you must give me time – you must give me time!” We all sat in silence for some minutes, while those fateful eyes still strained to pierce the veil.

A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI

On March 7th…

Illustration by Richard Gutschmidt of Jefferson Hope and Lucy Ferrier in A Study in Scarlet

Illustration by Richard Gutschmidt (1902)

March 7, 1881: Jefferson Hope’s body was found in his cell. [STUD]

He had gone to the final judgment and reunion with Lucy. One can hope that mercy ruled determination of their case. Their suffering and pain on earth was enough. -Chips

A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI

On March 6th…

Illustration by Richard Gutschmidt (1902)

March 6, 1881: Holmes tested some pills on the landlady’s dying dog. [STUD]

As he spoke he turned the contents of the wine-glass into a saucer and placed it in front of the terrier, who speedily licked it dry. Sherlock Holmes’s earnest demeanour had so far convinced us that we all sat in silence, watching the animal intently, and expecting some startling effect. None such appeared, however. The dog continued to lie stretched upon the cushion, breathing in a laboured way, but apparently neither the better nor the worse for its draught.

As we know, the second pill had a rather different effect.

March 6, 1881: Jefferson Hope was captured. [STUD]

Illustration by George Hutchinson for A Study in Scarlet (1891)

The whole thing occurred in a moment – so quickly that I had no time to realize it. I have a vivid recollection of that instant, of Holmes’s triumphant expression and the ring of his voice, of the cabman’s dazed, savage face, as he glared at the glittering handcuffs, which had appeared as if by magic upon his wrists. For a second or two we might have been a group of statues. Then with an inarticulate roar of fury, the prisoner wrenched himself free from Holmes’s grasp, and hurled himself through the window. Woodwork and glass gave way before him; but before he got quite through, Gregson, Lestrade, and Holmes sprang upon him like so many staghounds. He was dragged back into the room, and then commenced a terrific conflict. So powerful and so fierce was he that the four of us were shaken off again and again. He appeared to have the convulsive strength of a man in an epileptic fit. His face and hands were terribly mangled by his passage through the glass, but the loss of blood had no effect in diminishing his resistance. It was not until Lestrade succeeded in getting his hand inside his neckcloth and half-strangling him that we made him realize that his struggles were of no avail; and even then we felt no security until we had pinioned his feet as well as his hands. That done, we rose to our feet breathless and panting.

On March 5th…

Illustration by Richard Gutschmidt (1902)

March 5, 1881: Stangerson found stabbed to death at Halliday’s Private Hotel. [STUD]

He stood in the centre of the room, fumbling nervously with his hat and uncertain what to do.

“This is a most extraordinary case,” he said at last – “a most incomprehensible affair.”

“Ah, you find it so, Mr. Lestrade!” cried Gregson, triumphantly. “I thought you would come to that conclusion. Have you managed to find the secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson?”

“The secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson,” said Lestrade gravely, “was murdered at Halliday’s Private Hotel about six o’clock this morning.”

Illustration by Richard Gutschmidt (1906)

March 5, 1881: An old “crone” retrieved the woman’s wedding ring advertised as “found” in the ad placed by Holmes. [STUD]

At my summons, instead of the man of violence whom we expected, a very old and wrinkled woman hobbled into the apartment. She appeared to be dazzled by the sudden blaze of light, and after dropping a curtsy, she stood blinking at us with her bleared eyes and fumbling in her pocket with nervous shaky fingers. I glanced at my companion, and his face had assumed such a disconsolate expression that it was all I could do to keep my countenance.

By Hope’s own admission, this person was not Jefferson Hope, so who was she or he? Hope took the secret with him to the hereafter. Any ideas out there?

Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI

Membership Renewals for 2018

Renewal notices have been going out in email for memberships that expired at the end of December. If your membership has expired, though, you don’t have to wait for the email; you can head over to the shop to purchase a Membership for 2018.

Not sure when your membership expires? Take a peek at our Members Page! If it says you are a member through 12/17, it’s time to renew. (If it’s any other date, it’s not time yet. Memberships ending 6/18 will be notified about how to renew through the end of 2019 later in the year.) While you’re there, if you notice our information for you is incorrect or incomplete, please let me know!

TH6: Every Link Rings True 2nd Warm Up Game

Hello Watsonians!

Last month, we had a little fun with an introductory practice game in anticipation of the annual Treasure Hunt.  This month we continue the practice for TH6:Every Link Rings True with a second warm up game.

You will find the five questions for the practice posted below.  Please do not post any answers here; send answers to  Answers are due no later than March 11th.

Won’t you play along?

Margie/JHWS ‘Mopsy’

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

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

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

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?

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?

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

Helpful hint: Do not look in Holmes’s pocket.

Poison in Princeton (via Pop Goes the Page)

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (1903)

Escape rooms are all the rage, and I’ve heard more than one person speculate on the possible fun to be had with a Holmes-themed room. Some very clever folks at Princeton did more than speculate: they created a Sherlock Holmes Escape Room challenge. Over the course of 5 hours, 180 kids worked in teams of 6 to solve the puzzles.

This sounds amazing. I appreciate the tips at the end of the post, since I just might have to try to put one of these together for a library program sometime!

On February 17th… The Birth of a Sherlockian Scholar

February 17, 1888: On this date, the Reverend Monsignor Ronald A Knox, one of the most eminent original Sherlockian scholars, was born. Although he was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1912, he converted to Catholicism, becoming a Roman Catholic priest in 1918, later a Monsignor. He is best known for writing the paper Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes.


Available from Gasogene Books (Wessex Press)

If there is anything pleasant in life, it is doing what we aren’t meant to do. If there is anything pleasant in criticism, it is finding out what we aren’t meant to find out. It is the method by which we treat as significant what the author did not mean to be significant, by which we single out as essential what the author regarded as incidental. […] There is, however, a special fascination in applying this method to Sherlock Holmes, because it is, in a sense, Holmes’s own method. ‘It has long been an axiom of mine,’ he says, ‘that the little things are infinitely the most important.’ It might be the motto of his life’s work.

This paper has generated years of Sherlockian studies. It was presented to the Gryphon Club in 1911, published in The Blue Book Magazine in 1912, and republished a number of times, including in Knox’s Essays in Satire in 1928. [The link above will take you to a PDF file of the paper in Blackfriars v1 n3 (June 1920), hosted at the University of Minnesota. -Selena Buttons]

In a response to the paper, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote that “Holmes changed entirely as the stories went on” but that “Watson never for one instant as chorus and chronicler transcends his own limitations. Never once does a flash of wit or wisdom come from him. All is remorsely eliminated so that he may be Watson.” [A frankly absurd assertion! -Selena Buttons]

My source for the information on Knox’s birthdate comes from A Curious Collection of Dates by Leah Guinn (“Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (“Tressa”). [Additional information about the presentation and publication of “Studies of the Literature of Sherlock Holmes” and Dr Doyle’s response comes from The Ronald Knox Society of North America. -Selena Buttons]

(This post originally appeared on February 17, 2017.)

A Love Affair for Life

My favorite edition is and always will be the Doubleday one volume edition. This volume was the Shangri-La of my childhood. I started out reading an abridged version of the story “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”. The story was in a weekly messenger that my Catholic school received for the 7th and 8th grade. The purpose was to introduce more adult literature since we were becoming young adults. Instead it started a life time and devotion in one underweight, under-muscled, lonely, bespectacled boy.

I could not get enough of 221B and my two new devoted companions. We solved the mystery and brought Justice where we could. And best of all, they were there with only an opening of a book! I went through all the stories I could find in our small school library. I then harassed our local city public library for library loans. One of the Librarians mentioned in an off-handed tone that Rector’s Book Store downtown had a One Volume collection of all 60(!!!) stories of Holmes and Watson. I had to have that treasure!

So getting my Mom to call down to the store, I found out the horrible information the book was $10.00! The price seemed so unattainable. So as my Mom taught me, I dug into my piggy savings bank and found out I had a whole lot of chores for my neighbors, mowing of neighbors’ lawns with my father’s hand push mower in my future. Finally, those fund raising efforts and a very generous contribution from my Mom made the unobtainable mine.

Mom and I went down one Saturday morning by bus. I normally was in awe of the huge world of books in the store. Not today. Straight to the adult mystery’s section, grabbing the one volume treasure, and straight to the cashiers. When we got there, my Mom stayed in the background while I pulled out my fist of money and laid the desired treasure down in front of the clerk. The clerk looked at the rather large book, about 1300 pages, thumbed through it, saw who he guessed was my Mother in back of me. He spoke out to her: “Ma’am I do not think he would like this book. It is so large and has no pictures.”

My Mom in her coldest tone said, “He wants this book. He does not need pictures to read a book as you do.”

The clerk very quickly rang up the book, took my money from the counter, gave me change and walked with us and apologized all the way out of the store, holding the door open for us, and urged us to come again.

Now as to why the Doubleday one volume is my favorite. You can do no better than the Preface “In Memoriam”. To quote: “The whole Sherlock Holmes saga is triumphant illustration of art’s supremacy over life.” I had my first glimpse of that now familiar sitting room. I learned the major and minor details of Holmesiana to be able spend endless hours of my life in blissful enjoyment discussing these with other dyed in the blood addicts.

I also was able to see my first picture of the flat at 221B Baker Street.

Chat on the Society Members Slack Channel

We love to talk in the comments section here on the blog, but sometimes we’d like a bit more room to have conversations. Enter the John H Watson Society Slack Channel!

The channel provides a members-only space for chatting about a variety of topics. To get your invitation to join the channel, please complete the form below with your name, your Society moniker, and your preferred email address.

See you in the Slack!

The Cat of the Baskervilles (Book Review)

The Cat of the Baskervilles

by Vicki Delany
Crooked Lane Books (February 2018)
304 p. ISBN 9781683314714

Publisher’s Summary

When Jayne Wilson’s mother is accused of murder, Jayne and Gemma have to eliminate the impossible to reveal the true killer.

Legendary stage and movie star Sir Nigel Bellingham arrives on Cape Cod to star in a stage production of The Hound of the Baskervilles put on by the West London Theater Festival. When Sir Nigel, some of the cast, and the director visit the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop at 222 Baker Street, Gemma Doyle realizes that Sir Nigel is not at all suited to the role. He is long past his prime and an old drunk to boot.

The cast, in particular the much younger actor who previously had the role, are not happy, but the show must go on.

Before the play opens, Leslie Wilson, mother of Gemma’s best friend Jayne, arranges a fundraising afternoon tea to be catered by Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room. The tea is a huge success, but when it’s time to leave, Sir Nigel has gone missing―only to be found at the bottom of the rocky cliff, dead. Along with the dead body, Gemma finds evidence incriminating Leslie Wilson. When the police, in the presence of handsome detective Ryan Ashburton and suspicious detective Louise Estrada, focus their attention on Leslie despite the numerous other suspects, the game is once again afoot and it’s again up to the highly perceptive Gemma and the ever-confused but loyal Jayne to clear Jayne’s mother’s name.

General Review

When Ms. Delany contacted the Society, offering an ARC of her third book, I jumped at the offer.  I reviewed her first book (review here), and enjoyed it quite a bit.  I didn’t review the second book for the Society, but I did read it, and though I thought there were some weaknesses, I still loved it, especially since it focused on pastiche writers.  This third book, however, I was incredibly eager to read.  As a person who works in theatre, how could I resist a book that brings Holmesian theatre to the center of the plot?

I wasn’t disappointed at all (well, perhaps a little- there was no stage manager character, and as a stage manager, I’m always on the look out for my people!).  I have always appreciated how each book in this series brings in a different aspect of Holmesiana.  The first looked at the original Strand magazines and collectors; the second book focused on pastiches and their writers.  Having the third book focus on theatre was excellent, as it forced Gemma and Jayne out of the book store more.  Although the Sherlock Holmes book store and tea room are still an important location, it no longer becomes the site of so much death, and it lets the reader see the wider community as well.

Gemma continues to be a fun twist on the Holmes character, self-aware enough to know that some people don’t appreciate her insights, and yet too straightforward to stop herself in time.  After the second book, where all the detective work was accomplished through conversations, I was pleased to see a return of footwork to Gemma’s investigations.  While I appreciate the fact that Holmes was, before Watson, largely an armchair detective, I like to see a little more movement in my pastiches.  Gemma got to do a spot of breaking and entering in this book, much to my delight, in addition to her gently (and occasionally not-so-gently) prying conversations.  I also loved how very concerned she was for Jayne, our Watson, throughout the entire book.  Too often Holmeses are portrayed as disinterested in their Watsons; I was pleased to see that this book did not go that route.

The mystery is light, and not terribly difficult for a reader to solve, but it’s enjoyable to watch how Gemma gets to the conclusion.  I was intrigued by the way the author decided to wrap up the mystery in this book.  It was not the traditional way at all, and while I solved the mystery itself, I still didn’t see the end coming.

This is a series where reading the previous books aren’t terribly necessary to understanding the plot, as the author does much recapping and explaining of who everyone is, so if the previous two books haven’t been of interest to you but this one sounds fun, I would recommend picking it up.  It’s a very fun read, and perfect for anyone snowed in who wants to just curl up with something light while they drink their cocoa.

What About Our Watson?

I love Jayne Wilson.  I think it’s fair to say that she isn’t a Watson in the most traditional sense (she is a somewhat reluctant partner during Gemma’s investigations), but there is something about her that makes me fiercely protective of her.  She can be a little bit Bruce-ian at times—she has never really tried to notice things the way Gemma does—but if I had to assign a screen Watson to her, for comparison, I’d actually say she’s a bit like Galina Shchepetnova, the Watson in My Dearly Beloved Detective.  Sweet, a little bit ditzy, but incredibly fierce when provoked.

One of the reasons I chose not to review Delany’s second book, Body on Baker Street, for the Society was that Jayne had a somewhat reduced role as compared to the first book.  Much to my relief, Jayne returned to her role more fully in Cat of the Baskervilles.  Given that her mother is the prime suspect in the mystery, we got to see Jayne through a full range of emotions, deepening her character quite a bit.

I also enjoyed seeing Jayne in a “military” mode—while catering for an afternoon tea event.  She is very much in charge during the tea, and it was lovely seeing her as strong, capable, and the boss of Gemma.  I also was very fond of the part where Jayne sets Gemma straight about her dating life.  Gemma being protective of Jayne is something I enjoyed about this book, but I appreciated that Jayne is perfectly able to take care of herself, without Gemma “handling” things for her.

I truly love Jayne Wilson; she’s one of my favourite parts of this series, and I hope the author continues to expand her role.

You Might Like This Book If You Like:

Theatre; cozy mysteries; actor drama; romance

Is there a book you want Lucy to review?  Let her know! Contact the Society today!

Call for Submissions: Watsonian Deadline Approaching!

Calling all Writers and Illustrators!

This is a reminder that the deadline for the Spring 2017 issue of The Watsonian is February 15th, which is coming up soon.

The Society welcomes scholarly papers, articles, original fiction, miscellanea or other submissions. One need not be an experienced or academic writer; some of our most engaging articles come from individuals with a love for the writing and appreciation for the pleasures gained over the years.There is always room for your research, thoughts, ideas and creativity. The Society is an inclusive group; we desire interested Watsonians to take part and to approach the Society with innovative projects. Whether you are a first time author is not important; that you try is what counts.

Submissions should be up-to-date Word documents and sent via email attachment to:

TH6: A Little Game Results & Answers

Hi Watsonians–

The first warm up game for TH6:EveryLinkRingsTrue is over and the results are in.  The first Watsonian to correctly answer all five questions is none other than our amazing leader ‘Selena Buttons’ (Beth Gallego).   Several other Watsonians gave it a go and most succeeded in answering all questions correctly.

Congratulations to Beth and all our participants: Ron Lies/ ‘Chips’, Richard Olken/ ‘Palmer’,  Paul Hartnett/ ‘Scout’, Sheila Holtgrieve/ ‘Daisy’, and Michele Lopez/ ‘Reggie’.

We will have a few more short games to practice this quiz style prior to the start of the Treasure Hunt.  The answers are posted below.

Many thanks to all of you that played the game!

Margie/ JHWS ‘Mopsy’

  1. In ten minutes or less, accept a child. With the child in mind, choose 4 brief letters

Answer:  YELL

‘It was a long two minutes before Grant Munro broke the silence, and when his answer came it was one of which I love to think. He lifted the little child, kissed her, and then, still carrying her, he held his other hand out to his wife, and turned towards the door.’ (YELL)

‘The Yellow Face’ = YELL

In some editions, two minutes is changed to ten minutes.  See Klinger Annotated, VOL 1, p. 472, note 25.

  1. Turn your four letters into a verb, send it across the moor, and confirm who it is not. Who

Answer: Sir Henry Baskerville

‘A terrible scream – a prolonged yell of horror and anguish burst out of the silence of the moor.  That frightful cry turned the blood to ice in my veins. ‘Oh, my God!’ I gasped. ‘What is it? What does it mean?’…Blindly we ran through the gloom, blundering against boulders, forcing our way through gorse bushes, panting up hills and rushing down slopes, heading always in the direction whence those dreadful sounds had come. At every rise Holmes looked eagerly round him, but the shadows were thick upon the moor and nothing moved upon its dreary face. And it shone upon something else which turned our hearts sick and faint within us – the body of Sir Henry Baskerville!….Good heavens, are you mad?’ He had uttered a cry and bent over the body. Now he was dancing and laughing and wringing my hand. Could this be my stem, self-contained friend? These were hidden fires, indeed! ‘A beard?”It is not the Baronet – it is – why, it is my neighbour, the convict!’ (HOUN)

  1. Find a restorative for [the answer to #2], and then find the soldier who supposedly took an expanded version of the same. What expanded restorative?

Answer: Voyage round the world

‘Sir Henry and Dr Mortimer were, however, in London, on their way to that long voyage which had been recommended for the restoration of his shattered nerves.’ (HOUN)

‘I waited a bit and then I wrote again. This time I had a reply, short and gruff.  Godfrey had gone on a voyage round the world, and it was not likely that he would be back for a year. That was all.  ‘I wasn’t satisfied, Mr Holmes…Is it not natural that I should wonder at his sudden silence and should wish to know what has become of him?”… I spoke to the station-master and also to the innkeeper in the village. I simply asked if they knew anything of my old comrade, Godfrey Emsworth. Both of them assured me that he had gone for a voyage round the world. He had come home and then had almost at once started off again. The story was evidently universally accepted.’ (BLAN)

  1. Compound the cost for a lady to have a similar restorative. How much?

Answer: Five thousand pounds

‘Well, well,’ said he, ‘I suppose I shall have to compound a felony as usual. How much does it cost to go round the world in first-class style?’ The lady stared in amazement. ‘Could it be done on five thousand pounds?’  ‘Well, I should think so, indeed!’ ‘Very good. I think you will sign me a cheque for that, and I will see that it comes to Mrs Maberley. You owe her a little change of air. Meantime, lady’ – he wagged a cautionary forefinger – ‘have a care! Have a care! You can’t play with edged tools for ever without cutting those dainty hands.’ (3GAB)

  1. With a like amount, buy a thief. Who?

Answer: Colonel Valentine Walter

With the shock, his broad-brimmed hat flew from his head, his cravat slipped down from his lips, and there was the long light beard and the soft, handsome, delicate features of Colonel Valentine Walter. Holmes gave a whistle of surprise.  ‘You can write me down an ass this time, Watson,’ said he. ‘This was not the bird that I was looking for.’  ‘Who is he?’ asked Mycroft, eagerly. ‘The younger brother of the late Sir James Walter, the head of the Submarine Department….’ I confess it. It was just as you say.  A Stock Exchange debt had to be paid. I needed the money badly. Oberstein offered me five thousand.  It was to save myself from ruin. But as to murder, I am as innocent as you.’ (BRUC)

Helpful Hint:  Your final answer should be appropriate for the times with February right around the corner.

February 14,  Valentine’s Day



TH6: A Little Game reminder & a helpful hint

Hello Watsonians–

Popping in to remind you that five days remain to play along with our TH6:EveryLinkRingsTrue warm up game.  Responses to the quiz are welcomed through January 29th.  Several very good, almost-100%-correct attempts have been submitted. Up to this point, however, only one of our Watsonians has managed to solve all five questions correctly on the first try.  (Change-of-heart-do-overs are also welcome through the 29th.)

Almost invariably question #3 is proving to the problem.  After correctly solving question #2, our quiz takers are making an assumption as to the first part of #3 which does not make sense when linked to the remaining questions because the assumption is incorrect.  If you are willing to give it a try (or a re-do), I recommend you think about Holmes’s good advice:

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

Question #3 requires you to look beyond the most obvious.

I have re-posted the questions below if you would like to give them a try. Since all the questions link, it is certainly possible to work from the bottom up.

Many thanks to all of you that have taken the time to play the game,

Margie/ JHWS ‘Mopsy’

  1. In ten minutes or less, accept a child. With the child in mind, choose 4 brief letters.
  1. Turn your four letters into a verb, send it across the moor, and confirm who it is not. Who?
  1. Find a restorative for [the answer to #2], and then find the soldier who supposedly took an expanded version of the same. What expanded restorative?
  1. Compound the cost for a lady to have a similar restorative. How much?
  1. With a like amount, buy a thief. Who?

Helpful Hint:  Your final answer should be appropriate for the times with February right around the corner.