Monday, September 19, 2022

September News and Announcements

September News and Announcements

First things first: have you registered for Holmes in the Heartland yet?  If not, check out the website and get signed up!

And we will be holding one of our semi-regular Zoom meetings next month to discuss "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans."  You can pre-register for the meeting here.

The Occupants of the Empty House hosted their final meeting on September 17.  Brad Keefauver has a nice writeup on that meeting on his blog.

Enola Holmes 2 will be coming to Netflix in November.

The Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn will meet via Zoom on September 23.

The Baker Street Almanac has been delivered to subscribers and is highly recommended.  If you didn't preorder one, they are still available here.

Joe will be the keynote speaker at December's Crew of the Barque Lone Star Zoom meeting.

Josh Harvey created a great video for our Scion on his YouTube page.

And Nellie had some great pictures from the time she visited Hotel National.  Check them out below!

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

July News and Announcements

Opening up, there was a brief discussion- run down of this year's 221B Con.  Next year will be held April 14-16 2023.  

Holmes, Doyle & Friends will happen in Dayton again next year March 24-25, 2023. 

 And then Holmes in the Heartland is happening July 28-30, 2023. Registration will be open later this summer.  

The Sherlock Holmes in 221 objects will be in Bloomington Indiana August 6th and there will be speakers at this event.  Registration is open now. 

 Also, the Toronto Jubilee 221B the 50th anniversary of the collection at the Toronto Library as well as the 50th anniversary of the Bootmakers of Toronto.  Sept 23-25, registration now open.  Included on the 22nd of September is the ACD Toronto walk.  Keynote speakers are Nicholas Meyer and Douglas Kerr.

The Audible podcast Moriarty: The Devils' Game was brought up as a listening suggestion by Nellie as was the Spotify original podcast Scotland Yard Confidential. The narrator's name is John Hopkins which (hypothetically) could have a tie in with Sherlock Holmes.

Discussion about the Red Circle: 

The original title was supposed to be The Adventure of the Bloomsbury Lodger

The book opens with Mrs. Warren worrying about a lodger who paid double rent and stays in their room.  The question was asked, why is any landlady worrying about a tenant who pays double and is quiet?

Bob suggested that Klinger mentioned the landlady was actually in charge of a rooming house which was a lower class of lodging than boarding houses like the ones Holmes and Watson lived in.

Originally Holmes is not interested in the case- Scrapbooking was more important. 

While Holmes digs through the Daily Gazette, he doesn't grow interested until Mr Warren is kidnapped.  

Ora asked how did the group find the lodger and why did they kidnap the wrong person.  It was a foggy morning. 

Nellie added that they threw the coat behind the victim and maybe that's how they didn't know who they caught. 

Wayne asked just how many male lodgers did the home have?

Nellie's favorite part of the story was the Agony column of the Daily Gazette and how Holmes just loudly reads parts and makes commentary. 

Question: why were the associates of Black Gorgiano not worried about after the man was killed?  

Wayne suggested that because it wasn't really Red Circle business that one Gorgiano was murdered, the others just dispersed. 

Mary read a paper she wrote for this story titled Reader Beware: The Red Circle.  She talks about several things from the story including the easy coded messages and  where are all the WC's and if Mrs. Warren was cataloguing everything the mysterious border asked for then why isn't fresh water for hand washing or chamber pots mentioned?

This turned into a discussion about London being behind in basic things like sanitation, heating and cooling and pipes.  Kristen talked about the retrofitting of the lamps to electric. 

This brought up that Mary also read a paper she wrote on  The Adventure of the Gloria Scott at a Parallel Cases meeting in 2005 also discussing coded messages. 

Joe mentioned the Long Island Cave mystery mentioned by the Pinkerton agent. There are no caves in Long Island. 

Bob mentioned that Klinger spoke about the Red Circle maybe being part of the Freemasons and the Italian mafia and brought up Lodge 21- and Godfather 3.  Conan Doyle had a on and off thing with secret societies  as he was an on and off member of the Masons. 

The consensus of how the group liked the story was mixed.  It was more of a meh.  The story was in The Last Bow which was published in 1911.

Also a quick debate if there were any similarities between Gorgiano and Moriarty outside  having a one on one confrontation and losing and working with an organization. Gorgiano's mission was personal where Moriarty's mission was business. Other than that, no real correlation. 

The next meeting is on September 10 @ 1pm  at the Ethical Society and will be covering "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax."

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Adventure of the Queen's Jubilee by Kristen Mertz

It is June. A glorious summer day, but Sherlock is bored, very, VERY bored.  What should Watson do when Sherlock is in such a state and of all days for this to be the situation, the very day of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. He must try to occupy Sherlock’s mind of course, but how?

I remember the events clearly. The day was June the 20th of 1897.  No murders to speak of.  No odd visitors with curious problems to solve.  In other words, a very tedious day to be one Mr. Sherlock Holmes.  He is in one of his melancholic moods, re-reading through the latest news searching for anything of interest, apparently to no avail as he has been sighing loudly and tossing each sheet into an ever-growing pile at his feet. Mrs. Hudson has more than once entered the room, attempting without success, to offer food or tea. The last attempt was met with Holmes waving her off. She just shook her head, tsk’d and mumbled under her breath, “Well, I guess there’s nothin’ for it then” as she closed the door behind herself.

I have been asking myself all morning how to get Holmes out of his ever-blackening mood.  “I say Holmes, all the papers only have news of the Jubilee. I fear there’s nothing to be done for it.  Why don’t we go for a stroll and see for ourselves?”  That only earned me a scathing look and a haughty retort.  “Are you out of your mind Watson? There is a man giving out tobacco and alcohol on the streets.  Every dull-witted simpleton will be out and about today. I am in not any mood to deal with those wretched fools today.  Really, what can you be thinking.” Holmes opened the last paper, glancing at it quickly before standing up quickly and throwing it to the ground. “Confound this day!”, he yelled and stalked off toward the kitchen.

What a shame, I thought to myself. It is a lovely day after all. How wonderful it would be to take a stroll and enjoy the weather. Of course, I couldn’t expect Holmes to tolerate the chaos caused by the Jubilee, unless of course there was a murder scene at the end of it. I must think of something and quickly, before he decided to decorate another wall in buckshot to alleviate his foul mood.

I dropped into my chair, wracking my brain trying to think of something, anything to do with this woe begotten day.  It is too late for a trip to the country.  Bah, even if I had suggested it earlier, we have just recently returned from the Cornish peninsula from that rest suggested by the doctor. For all the good that did him.  Holmes had managed to find another case and whatever rest and relaxation he did eventually get has apparently been too much for him if his current state is any indication.

A visit to Mycroft?  Hardly something to put Holmes in a good mood; and, I would have to deal with Mycroft as well.  Violin?  No, no, he would recognize that as a feeble attempt it is to lighten his mood.  Cold cases?  Perhaps digging through some of Holmes’ old cases to find something to discuss? No, Holmes would just think I was writing about whatever it was, that surely won’t work. Perhaps an unsolved case?  Jack the Ripper?  No, that was a sore point with Holmes as the Yard never requested his assistance, despite their very obvious need at the time.  And now, with the murders stopped and the trail grown so cold over the years, that would surely do nothing but worsen the situation. Lunch perhaps at the …oh what am I thinking, even if we could find a hansom, the streets are crowded and I’m sure the eateries are over-filled.   

Holmes strode back in the room and threw himself into his chair, breaking me out of my reverie.  Without thinking I leapt to my feet and blurted out, “I challenge you to a single stick match!” No sooner had the words left my mouth, did I immediately regret them. Sherlock’s mouth dropped open for only a second before he pursed his lips and said, “Good god man, what has gotten into to you today.  You cannot be serious.”  “I am utterly serious, I assure you,” I stuttered. “Very well, if you insist,” said Holmes and promptly turned on his heel.

Holmes is right, I thought to myself, what has gotten into me.  I have very little idea how to handle a single stick.  Only from watching Holmes did I even know how to hold one properly.

Holmes walked back into the room holding 2 sticks and tossed one to me.  I am not at all sure how, but I caught it.  He threw off his robe and tossed it on the chair and kicked off his house slippers. He stepped his right foot forward and lifted the stick over his right shoulder with his left arm down at his side. I awkwardly imitated his stand and said shakily, “En guard.”  Why did I say that?  I inwardly cursed at myself.

Holmes chuckled, nodding his head at me slightly.  In the blink of an eye, he twirled the stick in an X, striking both sides of my front leg and before I could take another breath, twirled the stick in another X, tapping both sides of my collarbone, ending with a quick tap to the left side of my head.  “I’m afraid you have lost quite badly dear chap. You didn’t even get a hit.”  Holmes shook his head and laughed.  “I really do not know what you are about today Watson.”

“Holmes!  You didn’t even give me a chance to…I …I never…” I huffed, dropped the stick to the floor and threw myself back into my chair.  “I was simply trying to get you out of that dark mood you’ve been in all day!” I was beside myself.

Holmes barked out another laugh at my expense. “Good lord man…challenging me to single stick.  You must have been absolutely desperate!  Are you quite finished now?  I don’t think I can take any more of your cheering.”

I held my hands up.  “I surrender, you have put me at my wits end old fellow.”  I dropped my hands into my lap, threw my head back and muttered, ”Damn the Jubilee.”

“Is that what this is about?”, queried Holmes, shaking his head.  “You could have just…” Holmes stopped mid-sentence, tilting his head slightly.  He snatched his robe from the chair, tossed it on, slipped into his house shoes and grabbed his pipe from the mantle and began filling it with tobacco.

"What…” I started, just as I heard the bell ring as he dropped into this chair and lit his pipe.  I stared at him, my mouth agape.

“Well don’t just stand there, man.  Have Mrs. Hudson bring some tea.  I hope our visitor has brought us a challenge.  I do believe any more of you trying to entertain me may bring you to the brink of insanity!”

And that, dear readers, is how not to keep Sherlock busy on a sunny day in June during Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

May News and Announcements

It was so great to meet again in person this month!  Twelve Sherlockians gathered to discuss Wisteria Lodge with some interesting discussions on the relationship between Scott Eccles and Garcia, the impression that Inspector Baynes made on all of us, the problem with the dates in this story, the inconsistencies with the governess's story, and the racism running through the whole tale.  But if you want to be a part of our discussions, you'll have to join us at our next meeting in July!

Some interesting news and announcements came out of this month's meeting that we'd like to share, specifically about our conference...

Holmes in the Heartland will return in the summer of 2023!  

Details are still being worked out, but we hope you can join us in late July next year for the return of our conference.  Next year's theme will be the one that Covid put on hold: Arch Enemies.  Look for more information coming soon!

Sherlollicon will take place online June 4 & 5.

The Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn will have their monthly meeting this Friday evening on Zoom.

The Noble Bachelors of St. Louis will host their annual Sherlockian picnic at Tower Grove Park on June 5 at 11:00.

Lone Star Holmes will take place in Dallas, TX on May 26 & 27, 2023.

The Friends of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection at the Toronto Public will host Jubilee @ 221B on September 23-25.

The Baker Street Irregulars will present Sherlock Holmes and the British Empire in Bear Mountain, NY on July 29-31.

Our next meeting will be on July 9 to discuss The Bruce-Partington Plans.  Come at once if convenient!

Thursday, March 24, 2022

March News and Announcements

This month was our last Zoom meeting for a while and we welcomed all kinds of new folks to our group.  Sherlockians from England, Canada, Egypt, France, and the Czech Republic, as well as all across America were on hand.  And there were plenty of events to announce to everyone!

The Occupants of the Empty House in Southern Illinois will meet again in person on April 2 in DuQuoin, IL.

221B Con will be on April 8-10 in Atlanta, GA.

A Celebration of Sherlock Holmes will be held at DePaul University in Chicago on May 7.

Sherlolicon will be held online June 4-5.

The BSI will host Sherlock Holmes and the British Empire in Bear Mountain, NY on July29-31.

The updated International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes will be in St. Paul, MN in October.

Lone Star Holmes will be held in Dallas, TX on May 26-27, 2023.

And we are finally to meet back in person!  Starting in May, our bi-monthly meetings will be hosted again at The Ethical Society of St. Louis.

May 14: Wisteria Lodge

July 9: The Red Circle

September 10: The Bruce-Partington Plans

November 12: The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax

But to keep in touch with our out-of-town friends, we will host two Zoom meetings this year:

October 15: The Dying Detective (via Zoom)

December 10: The Devil’s Foot (via Zoom)

And for Sherlockians still looking to connect via Zoom, you can count on monthly meetings from The John H. Watson Society and Five Miles From Anywhere.

Make sure you stay up-to-date with Parallel Case of St. Louis news and events on our Facebook page and Twitter account!

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Ode to Mrs. Hudson by Heather Hinson

It’s February and love is in the air.  So, let’s discuss the woman who truly mattered to Sherlock Holmes, Mrs. Hudson. The stalwart landlady of 221B Baker Street and both Holmes and Watson.  She fed them, made sure their rooms were tidy and even assisted Sherlock in capturing the infamous Colonel Sebastian Moran in The Adventure of the Empty House by moving a bust of Holmes every quarter of an hour to make it look like the detective himself was moving about the room.  This after Holmes sent her into “violent hysterics” by announcing his return.  Even when he terrified her by rising from the dead, as it were, the levelheaded mistress of Baker Street willingly embroiled herself in intrigue and danger.  For a woman of mystery, Mrs. Hudson has had her fair share of mysteries in novels by Michelle Birkby, Susan Knight and Wendy Heyman-Marsaw.

In The Adventure of the Naval Treaty, Homes describes his landlady as such “Her cuisine is a little limited, but she has as good an idea of breakfast as a Scotchwoman.” Still, that didn’t stop Mrs.  Hudson from bringing up hearty breakfasts for both Holmes and Watson, mostly Watson. Or offering to fix sandwiches or bring up tea for the men and sometimes their guests. 

Mrs. Hudson has appeared in numerous films and television adaptations, including both the Rathbone and Brett series and more recently in both the Robert Downey Jr. version and the BBC version of Sherlock Holmes.  As well as a brief appearance in Elementary. While Baker Street is where Holmes and Watson call home, it is Mrs. Hudson to whom the address truly belongs. Even in fandom, Mrs. Hudson is the one person everyone can agree that they like equally, a fair feat for a fandom that has a multitude of opinions.

Nobody knows her Christian name, or where she came from before she took care of the occupants of Baker Street and that’s part of the intrigue.  Mrs. Hudson is an open book, one that we know has a greater amount of fortitude than most women in the Victorian Era.  And by now it’s common knowledge that Holmes appreciates women with a bit of moxie.

No matter if it's 1895 or 2025, if there is anything we truly know about Sherlock Holmes, it’s that he would be utterly lost without Mrs. Hudson.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

January Meeting: The Second Stain

Josh Harvey got special recognition on the latest episode of The Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes Podcast for his extensive knowledge of the music used on that show.

We’ve had two really great blog posts recently about this month’s story, The Second Stain.  Rich posted in December and Bill had this month’s post.

Rob announced a new book from Wessex Press, The Finest Assorted Collection, and his new book of essays, The Common-Place Book.

The Legion of Zoom will be hosting an online conference on February 20.

Holmes, Doyle, and Friends will take place in Dayton, Ohio on March 11 & 12.

221B Con will take place in Atlanta, Georgia on April 8-10.

DePaul University’s Pop Culture Conference, “A Celebration of Sherlock Holmes” will take place in Chicago, Illinois on May 7.

The BSI will be hosting “Sherlock Holmes and the British Empire” in Bear Mountain, New York on July 29-31.

Our next meeting will be on March 19 via Zoom to discuss The Valley of Fear.  Registration for that meeting will open on our Facebook page next month.

SECO starts off with a lot of information in its first paragraph: "Abbey Grange" was supposed to be the last story of the Canon. Holmes has retired to raise bees on the Sussex Downs. Watson had promised his readers that "The Second Stain" would be published eventually (in "The Naval Treaty" and "Yellow Face") and he was able to convince Holmes to let him publish this story because it was so important.

Rob noted that based off of the publication date, Holmes had only been retired for two months, so Watson couldn’t have been badgering him for too long about getting this in print.

In an unnamed year and an unnamed decade, Baker Street is visited by the Prime Minister, Lord Bellinger, and the Secretary for European Affair, Trelawney Hope.  So much has been written about who these characters would have been in real life, but we wanted to get on with the story and didn’t spend much time arguing which Prime Minister it could be.

A document has gone missing and "peace or war may hang upon the issue."

It was a letter from a foreign potentate (most researchers think this would have been Kaiser Wilhelm II) that arrived six days ago.  Hope kept the letter with him either in a safe at work or a locked dispatch box at home.  It was in his room, unguarded, from 7:30-11:30 the previous night.  And the letter was gone this morning.

Hope testifies that no one goes into his room.  Except for Hope, his wife, the housemaid, his valet, his wife’s maid… you know, no one!  Sonia said this setup reminded her of the “safety” in “The Beryl Coronet” and Ian pointed out that it was common practice for government officials to carry documents to and from work in their red boxes.  Sandy thought that the answer was always that the butler did it.  Susan pointed out that servants weren’t considered people and Beth thought it would be petrifying for these people to think about what all their servants could know about them.

Holmes asks for the specifics of the letter and the Prime Minister describes its physical shape and envelope.  When Holmes asks for the letter’s contents, he is told that it was a state secret, to which Holmes replies, “I regret exceedingly that I cannot help you in this matter, and any continuation of this interview would be a waste of time.”

Bellinger gets mad and “for a minute or more we all sat in silence.”  Holmes is not playing games.  Either he gets the information or he’s not interested.  Patrick noted how awkward that full minute must have been.

Finally the Prime Minister concedes and tells him that the potentate fired off a hasty letter which used language that if it were made public, the public opinion would be so hostile that it would lead to war.  But the potentate now regrets sending it and wants it recovered just as much as the British government does.  

Kevin noted that the Prime Minister still didn’t tell Holmes what exactly was in that letter.

Rich pointed out that the Prime Minister told Bellinger that he could not be blamed because there was no precaution he failed to take.  Rich then rattled off half a dozen precautions that could have been done.

Michael pointed out that Parliament passed the Official Secrets Act in 1899, so depending on where this story falls in chronology, it could or could not have been used against Lady Hilda or Trelawney Hope.  Rob said that many chronologies list this as an early case so most of them have it before this act.

Holmes’s response to the Prime Minister’s disclosure?  Prepare for war.  If the letter disappeared 12 hours ago, it is most likely in the hands of one of the top three spies in London.  Holmes will check on them to proceed but he doesn’t have high hopes.  

Bellinger and Hope leave and Holmes begins to think over the problem.  He tells Watson that he will try to buy the letter back from whichever spy has it.  It is most likely with either La Rothiere, Oberstein, or Edwardo Lucas. Rob noted how he loves that Oberstein is used again in “The Bruce-Partington Plans.”  There’s at least a little bit of continuity in the Canon!

Watson: You won’t talk to Edwardo Lucas.  He was murdered last night.  It’s always great when Watson knows something Holmes doesn’t!

Patrick noted how well this was executed in the Granada series and Kevin talked about the extra lines that were added to this conversation, maybe even improving on the original.

A constable discovered that Lucas’s house was in disarray and Lucas was stabbed in the heart with a dagger that was on display in his room.  Watson says this is an amazing coincidence.  Holmes: “The odds are enormous against its being a coincidence.”

Andy said maybe Holmes subscribed to the NCIS theory that there’s no such thing as coincidences and Rob said Holmes is wrong because it WAS a coincidence.  Madeline dismantled that point by saying Lucas’s wife seeing him with Lady Hilda could have provoked the attack, making it NOT a coincidence.  Michael pointed out that it wasn't just any woman, but one of the most beautiful women Watson had ever seen.

Right after this, Lady Hilda visits Baker Street and Watson is immediately smitten.  She wants to know what exactly was stolen from her husband.  Obviously, Holmes doesn’t tell her and she asks if her husband’s career will suffer to which Holmes says yes.

After she leaves, Holmes turns to Watson.  “Now, Watson, the fair sex is your department.”  Rob wondered why Holmes would ask for Watson’s take on the situation.  He knows Watson is always swayed by a pretty face!

Elaine announced that she was happy to read this story just so she could remember that there was at least one happy story in the Canon.  Shana pushed back and said that Lady Hilda’s fear of her husband finding out about a previous relationship could prove that it was not a happy marriage.  Kevin wondered if Lady Hilda’s letter was as scandalous as the one in Sherlock Holmes’s Smarter Brother.  

Watson tells us that “[a]ll that day and the next and the next Holmes was in a mood which his friends would call taciturn.”  Rob wondered just who these “friends” of Sherlock Holmes were.  Alisha argued that the word “friend” probably meant a different thing to Watson than it did to Holmes.  Sandy noted all of the people Holmes kept in contact with and Patrick said maybe Watson considered them his friends.  Jerry said it was just like Facebook friends.

Finally it was discovered that Mrs. Henri Fournaye was found out of her mind in Paris.  She is actually Eduardo Lucas’s wife in his double life.  She was the one who killed the spy.  Holmes notes that what is important now is that nothing has happened in international relations, proving that the letter has not been used.  The letter that did nothing in the night-time.  Rich talked about how this argument works in the legal field as well.

Lestrade calls Holmes over to Lucas’s house over a trifle that he thinks Holmes might find interesting.  The blood stain on the carpet doesn’t line up with the stain on the floor.  After looking, Holmes tells Lestrade that his constable has let someone into the house and Lestrade storms off to confront the man.

Holmes scrabbles over the floor to find a hiding place.  Once he does, it’s empty!  We took a moment to discuss just how great this scene was in the Granada episode.

Lestrade brings the constable in to tell Holmes and Watson his story, taking full credit for figuring out the man’s negligence.  On the way out of the house, Holmes shows the constable a picture and he gasps, closing the last link in Holmes’s chain of deductions.

Rob wondered why Holmes would have a picture of Lady Hilda on him during the investigation.  Elaine said she thought Holmes probably suspected her involvement since she had visited Baker Street.

Holmes and Watson are off to see Lady Hilda.  He gives her two chances to come clean, telling her exactly what happened and she denies it both times.  Finally Holmes says he will wait and tell her husband.  That ends the discussion.

Lady Hilda gives Holmes the papers and he slips them back into the dispatch box.  Rob wondered why he didn’t just deliver them to Hope or Bellinger.  He could have his dramatic moment and still say he has his diplomatic secrets.  This way makes Trelawney Hope look like a real idiot.  “Sorry about all of that war talk, cabinet ministers.  Turns out I didn’t look closely enough!”  There was a pretty spirited discussion from our group if Holmes should have hand delivered his the lost letter or if he was right to put it back in the dispatch box.

Lady Hilda tells Holmes her story, that Lucas blackmailed her into giving him the letter because of some letters she wrote to another man before she was married.  Is this really a fair trade?  Madeline wondered if Lucas could’ve gotten this love letter from Charles Augustus Milverton.

Alisha detailed all of Lady Hilda’s events from that night and was amazed that she could accomplish all of that in four hours.  Sandy wondered if she could have made an impression of the key on a previous night.

Rich wondered what was more important: protecting Lady Hilda’s marriage or exposing a spy in the government?  Alisha offered that Mycroft could have taken care of the spy after Holmes cleared up the crime.

We talked a bit about the spy that Lucas had in the foreign office.  Why wasn’t this man exposed?  Patrick wondered how the spy knew about it in the first place and Ian said subordinates would often be in and out of Minister’s boxes during the day.  Andy said it seemed about as secure as the locks sold at Wal-Mart.

The Prime Minister can smell something fishy and asks Holmes if the papers had really been in Hope’s dispatch box all along.  He responds, “We also have our diplomatic secrets,” and gets out of the house quickly.  No more questions, please!

We went round and round, discussing if Trelawney Hope’s career would be affected by this.  People in our group came down on all sides of this debate.  

Michael noted that this whole issue was caused by imprudent letters and Kevin said that’s why we should think twice before posting to Facebook.

Despite all of the issues, Michael hoped that Trelawney and Hilda went on to have a happy marriage and a baby so there would be a little Hope in their lives.

Don’t forget to join us back on Zoom on March 19 to discuss The Valley of Fear.  Come at once if convenient!