"He was away a fortnight, and returned looking rather travel-worn. He made no allusion to where he had been, although he was usually the frankest of men." [CREE]
This week IHOSE Episode 57 celebrates Halloween Sherlockian-style, Dan Andriacco releases a free Halloween e-book, the late, great Adventuress Marlene Aig leaves a surprise legacy for Sherlockians young and old, the role of the detective in mystery fiction is explored, two recent Sherlockian-centric posts at the Oxford University Press Blog, we play catch-up with Alistair Duncan at Doyleockiana, a new biography reveals which jazz great enjoyed discussing the Master, Howard Ostrom explores the role African Americans played in the early development of Holmes on film, a blogger argues for the importance of BBC's Sherlock Holmes from 1968, some exciting upcoming events happening in Atlanta, London and New York and more in the return of the Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium by Matt Laffey.
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere just in time for All Hallows’ Eve, IHOSE released Ep 57 “A Sherlockian Halloween” where Mssrs. Monty and Wolder discuss
Holmes and the occult [and are] joined by editor and author Charles Prepolec, who together with J.R. Campbell edited Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes, Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes, and Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes, joins [them] to talk about the intersection of Sherlock Holmes and the spooky, outre and creepy, setting the tone for the season. Charles (who goes by @sherlockeditor on Twitter), had the great fortune to work with the likes of Barbara Hambly, Martin Powell and Kim Newman, among others, and he talks about the selection process for including authors and their works in the anthologies.”
Mr. Prepolec has a great on-air personality and if you haven’t already, make sure to set aside an hour and give IHOSE Episode 57 a listen. Also, in lieu of reading the traditional Editor’s Gas-Lamp, an introduction to a collection of Conan Doyle stories written by ACD biographer John Dickson Carr is read.
Dan Andriacco, along with MX Publishing put together a special Halloween treat for fans of his McCabe/Cody series: they’re offering up a short Halloween themed story - available for a limited time for free on Amazon Kindle.
|[Just one of three collections of Sherlock Holmes pastiches focusing on the more macabre side of the Great Detective and his world from editor, and Ep 57 I HOSE guest, Charles Prepolec.]|
'We’ve been tasered, drugged, kidnapped, and almost blown up. So I’m sorry we’re late for the party.' Jeff Cody is having a bad day. But readers will love this short story about a Halloween party gone terribly wrong. If you haven’t read any of the critically acclaimed Sebastian McCabe - Jeff Cody mystery novels, “The Revengers” is the perfect introduction. If you’re already a McCabe-Cody fan, it will give you an enticing taste of their next book.”
If you don’t have a Kindle you can still get a free copy by joining the Sherlock Holmes Book newsletter on Facebook. Personally, I'm saving this story until Halloween draws a little bit closer and maximum ambient spookiness can be achieved.
Girl Meets Sherlock posted a touching and insightful piece on the late Marlene Aig, Sherlockian and one of the first Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes (ASH) as well as an Associated Press reporter, who passed away suddenly in 1996. Having many friends within the ASH world, I've heard many speak of Marlene Aig in a tone reserved only for the most exalted and respected of Sherlockians. So it gives me great pleasure to announce that MX Publishing has released a newly unearthed Holmes pastiche by Ms. Aig entitled Sherlock Holmes and the Lufton Lady, available as an e-book (Kindle, Nook, Kobo & the iPad). Edited by friend and notable Sherlockian Chris Redmond, “Lufton Lady is a quick, enjoyable read with a charming Holmesian atmosphere and a special flare that surely belonged to Marlene and Marlene alone. It’s a good story, but it’s also a piece of history and a chance to connect with one of the great female pioneers of the world of Sherlock Holmes.”
|[A haunting cover for a tale of a Halloween party gone wrong featuring two of my favorite literary characters Jeff Cody and Sebastian McCabe.]|
For more information about Marlene Aig, please read this lovely piece on the ASH website (originally published inThe Serpentine Muse Vol 13, no. 1, 1996) by two of her closest friends who remind those of us who knew her of the friend we’ve lost and those who didn’t know her of what they’ve missed entitled “Good Night, Marlene.”
Aeon Magazine in “Shamanic powers of insight and the power to bring order out of chaos: Is the detective a priestly figure for our times?” considers the age old question of how best to judge a society and suggests that investigating the relationship detective fiction shares with society is one such fruitful criteria. Defining the detective story as one in which “a felony is committed in mysterious circumstances and then an individual follows clues and makes deductions to discover what happened,” the author Jason Webster, not surprisingly a crime writer, looks at the history of the modern mystery story (modern circa William Godwin’s Caleb Williams (1794) and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841)) noting the significance of its co-development with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of police detective himself. Perhaps most importantly, Webster writes, the reason in which the detective story became such a huge best-seller almost overnight was due to the role in which the hero detective fulfilled: “Faced with the worst crime (what could be more existentially troubling than a murder?), the detective gives us answers to the most pressing and urgent questions: not only whodunit, but how and why and what it means…In other words, a detective is a kind of priest.” Read on for an intriguing discussion of our search for meaning in the modern age and how detectives such as Sherlock Holmes and GK Chesterton's Father Brown (a literal priest) took on the role of interpreters of human nature.
The Oxford University Press Blog posts the occasional Sherlock Holmes-centric piece either by James O'Brien, author of The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case With Science and Forensics (Oxford, 2013) or Douglas Kerr, author of Conan Doyle: Writing, Profession and Practice (Oxford, 2013). In "Six Methods of Detection in Sherlock Holmes" Mr. O’Brien notes that between the appearance in 1841 of Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and Doyle's A Study In Scarlet in 1887 "chance and coincidence played a large part in crime fiction." But with the rise and domination of the methods of Sherlock Holmes via logic, deduction, and science, new approaches to collecting and analyzing data acquired at a crime scene or from a likely culprit were developed, solidifying the Master and his follower’s reputation as men (and women) of science and innovators of forensic methods. As evidence of Holmes’ particular genius for fusing the theoretical with the pragmatic, O'Brien takes a look at the following Holmesian-championed innovations which, though experimental and even suspect in the days of Lestrade or Gregson, eventually became tools de rigueur for police and private consulting detectives alike: Fingerprints, Typewritten Documents, Handwriting, Footprints, Ciphers and Dogs.
|[Father Brown in one of hundreds of different editions available to the reading public in search of meaning in the modern world.]|
|[Pompey, Holmes and Watson on the hunt for Godfrey Staunton!]|
You may recall that Holmes and Watson employed the olfactory talents of Pompey the dog (above) in order to track down missing rugby star Godfrey Staunton, chronicled in “The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter”. For more information on Holmes and the use of dogs in detective work, I strongly suggest seeking out one of my favorite, though slightly obscure, works by Michael Harrison entitled Cynological Mr. Holmes: Conanical Canines Considered: Dog-lore and Dog-love in the Sherlockian Saga (1985, Magico), which can now be had as an e-book from the Battered Silicon Dispatch Box.Doyleockian's Alistair Duncan has posted a number of diverse and interesting pieces in the last few weeks commenting on everything from the resurgence of the Elementary Wars (now that Season 2 is in full swing) to the South Norwood Tourist Board’s attempt to name a lake in honor of ACD - “Lake Conan" is apparently the front runner, but I agree with Mr Duncan that "Lake Conan" is not a very good pick: whether it’s the unappetizing 'Conan the Barbarian' association or the fact that Conan Doyle is never referred to as just "Conan", almost any other variation on Doyle's name works better. The SNTB has an online poll with various naming options but I have to question their sincerity regarding names other than ‘Lake Conan’ considering the Reichenbach option is misspelled as "Reichenback" [sic].
|[Peter Wyngarde as Langdale Pike.]|
Speaking of lakes, in another post Pike is discussed…Langdale Pike that is (not the fish), who just happens to be one of my all time favorite minor Canonical characters. Duncan wonders whether the man who sits "in the bow window of a St. James's Street club" might best be thought of as a blend of Mycroft Holmes and Shinwell Johnson. The latter, it will be remembered from "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client", was Holmes's source of information, people and gossip in the underworld. Langdale Pike was clearly an upper-class equivalent.” Apparently, Elementary Season 2 features a character named Langdale Pike, but even though I have yet to see the episode I guarantee it can’t beat Peter Wyngarde's Pike in Granada's "The Three Gables." Coincidently, Wyngarde played the nefarious Baron Grüner in the 1965 BBC production of "The Illustrious Client" with Douglas Wilmer as Holmes - wherein Shinwell ‘Porky’ Johnson is played by prolific character actor Norman Mitchell.
Finally, perhaps Duncan’s most edifying and useful post - at least for Sherlockian book collectors - is "Book Preservation" which contains tips on book preservation along with a link to a PDF about book conservation from the British Library's Preservation Advisory Centre (click for range of videos on book care).
Quick Sherlock Links:NPR Books reviews a new autobiography about Jazz legend Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker called Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker (2013) by Stanley Crouch where it is revealed that "They read history books. They went to museums... Redcross told me, once he said, 'Yes, Charles and I, we would sit and we would discuss Sherlock Holmes…'" Something tells me that Holmes, with his affinity for experimenting with his Stradivarius in ways that may have been described as noise by Watson but might today be recognized as experiments in atonality or even free-form cacophony, might have recognized a kindred spirit in Parker and his pioneering bebop sound - not to mention their similarity when it came to seeking recourse in the needle, to which Parker was addicted for most of his short life (he died at 34). If you don’t want to listen to an audio review, Crouch’s biography of Parker was reviewed in The New York Times.
Howard Ostrom, best known for his incredible collection of autographed photos of various big and small screen Holmes and Watson team-ups (hosted virtually on blogger Ross K Foad's NPLH website), recently wrote a three part essay/study entitled "Voices From The Darkness" which takes a look at the African-American Sherlock Holmes progression, history and future in theater, cinema, comics and other mediums. His inspiration for said undertaking can be found in Part 1 (PDF) of "Voices From the Darkness" after coming across a little known Sherlock Holmes film from 1914 called A Tale of a Chicken which featured an all black cast but was virtually non-existent in the annuals of film history. This 1914 silent film would be just one of many to feature a black actor playing the Great Detective (often times with a corresponding all black cast) and Mr Ostrom has done Sherlockians everywhere a great service by unearthing this unique and fascinating bit of Sherlockian and film history.
The Consulting Detective makes the compelling argument that "in the grand scheme of things, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, the 1968 BBC television series, is one of the most important in Sherlock Holmes' history. It was only the second time that a real attempt was made to bring Arthur Conan Doyle's work to the small screen." And yet, as the author Nick Cardillo points out, the work of Douglas Wilmer and later Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes is largely forgotten or at least tragically overlooked. Last weekend I re-watched the entire DVD run of Douglas Wilmer’s BBC Sherlock episodes.
|[My favorite poster for Without a Clue.]|
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere marked the 25th anniversary of Without a Clue (1988), perhaps the finest example of a Holmes spoof ever.
Our hero, Sherlock Holmes, is shown to be nothing more than a profligate drunkard of an actor, hired by Dr. Watson (known to himself as “John Watson, the Crime Doctor!”) to mask his true identity as a successful detective whilst applying for a position in an exclusive hospital. Much to his chagrin, the character actor becomes popular and the public (and later Watson) can’t seem to do without him. It was a case of art imitating life, as another doctor - one A. Conan Doyle - was resigned to the same fate as the Crime Doctor."
I've always thought that the true genius of Without a Clue lies in the fact that the laughs come not from denigrating the familiar Sherlockian 'tropes’ but raising them up via experimentation and playfulness to the level of high comedy.
Sherlockian Societies & Events Links:221B Con reminds everyone that you (Yes, you!) have "only one month left to register for only $35. Registration will go up to $45 on November 16. If you filled out a registration form, but have not submitted your payment by November 16, your registration will be deleted. Please email us at reg [at] 221bcon.com if you have any questions or issues." The 2014 221B Con is happening in Atlanta, GA on April 4-6th (which is exactly 167 days, 22 hours and 44 minutes from now). For updated info, complete details and information about registration, hotels, programming, etc. stop in at 221bcon.com.
The Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit recently held their annual Fall Meeting (2013) and the AMS Tantalus Robert Musial thoroughly reviewed the evening's toasts, sites and sounds. The highlight of the evening seemed to be Regina Stinson's presentation titled "The Legend of the Deerstalker." Musial reports that: "Her excellently-researched monograph reviewed the two dozen artists who illustrated the Canon in its early days, among them Arthur Conan Doyle's father, Charles Altamont Doyle; and more popularly, Sidney Paget and Frederic Dorr Steele, who contributed the most iconic depictions of The Master and his surroundings."
|[A few AMS members (from left to right): we have Dr. Ed Stein, Dr. David Mohan, Tantalus Rob Musial and of course I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere's very own Mr. Scott Monty.]|
MX Publishing is hosting a free event on Friday, 8 November 2013 (7pm GMT) featuring Matthew J Elliot, author of The Immortals: An Unauthorized guide to Sherlock and Elementary (MX) - a study of BBC Sherlock and CBS Elementary episodes to date, just in time for the second season premiere of Elementary and for the one-day-to-be-released Sherlock (click here for BBC’s latest news on Season 3). For more information about the event, check out the The Immortals book release event page on Facebook.
The New York Society Library is hosting an evening with B.J. Rahn - an English Literature professor at Hunter College who also runs the site CrimeCritic.com - entitled "The Enduring Appeal of Sherlock Holmes" which will explore "the remarkable international appeal of Holmes (which shows no signs of abating), analyzes the nature of the fascination, and discusses its various manifestations in print, on stage, in films and television, plus museum and library exhibits, conferences, courses, statues, tours, hotels and pubs, and fan societies dedicated to him." Tickets are $10 in advance and will occur on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:30pm in the Whitridge Room at the The New York Society Library in Manhattan.
* To find a Sherlockian event in your area, check out The Sherlockian Calendar - maintained by Ron Fish with Sue and Ben Vizoskie of The Three Garridebs of Westchester County, NY. If you are interested in posting an event to the calendar, please email the details to webmaster Ron Fish at RonF404 [at] aol.com.
** If you’d like to see your event/meeting mentioned in our Societies & Events section, please email Matt the name of your group/event, the details, contact info and web address, Twitter, Facebook, etc., and any other info that should accompany the link.