Treasure Hunt 2017 discussion forum

“We are hunting together, Mr. Holmes.” (WIST)

This post is now open for clarifications/questions/discussions concerning the 5th Annual JHWS Treasure Hunt.
The Treasure Hunt will start on July 31st at midnight (PST) and will close on August 31st at midnight (PST).

This forum will remain open for the duration of the Hunt to discuss anything related to the questions.
Please do not post specific answers to any of the questions, not even as working hypotheses.
Any questions posted here for the Treasure Hunt Master will be answered as quickly as possible.
You can also get in touch directly with the THM by e-mail: treasurehunt@johnhwatsonsociety.com.

Happy Hunting!
Michele

 

A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Book Review)

A Conspiracy in Belgravia

by Sherry Thomas
Berkley (September 2017)
336 p. ISBN 9780425281413

Publisher’s Summary

Being shunned by Society gives Charlotte Holmes the time and freedom to put her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, she’s had great success helping with all manner of inquiries, but she’s not prepared for the new client who arrives at her Upper Baker Street office.

Lady Ingram, wife of Charlotte’s dear friend and benefactor, wants Sherlock Holmes to find her first love, who failed to show up at their annual rendezvous. Matters of loyalty and discretion aside, the case becomes even more personal for Charlotte as the missing man is none other than Myron Finch, her illegitimate half brother.

In the meanwhile, Charlotte wrestles with a surprising proposal of marriage, a mysterious stranger woos her sister Livia, and an unidentified body surfaces where least expected. Charlotte’s investigative prowess is challenged as never before: Can she find her brother in time—or will he, too, end up as a nameless corpse somewhere in the belly of London?

General Review

 This book is actually the second book in the series, the first being A Study in Scarlet Women.  Before you attempt to read this book, I strongly recommend you read the first, both because it will give you a better sense of the world these characters are inhabiting, but also because key elements from the first book carry over into this one- the author is clearly building an overarching mystery, and you will be lost without firmly knowing the contents of the first.

The conceit of the book series is fairly simple, and has been seen and done before: Sherlock Holmes is a woman.  In this case, her name is Charlotte, and she is the disgraced daughter of the Holmes family.  She has created a fictional brother, Sherlock Holmes, who is a detective, while she is merely a helpful sister.  The first book set up the series, and at times struggled between getting all the key characters in place and an interesting mystery.  The ultimate result was a book where Charlotte didn’t actually DO much, beyond listen to people, and a mystery so convoluted I still can’t make much sense of it.

That being said, I enjoyed A Conspiracy in Belgravia far more, and am thankful to NetGalley for providing me an ARC.  Now that Charlotte and her world is established, the author has more freedom to focus on the mystery plots and incremental character developments, and it works well.  Though the mystery still has many, many elements to it- some connecting to the overarching mystery of the series, which naturally connects to Moriarty, while others connect more directly to Charlotte and her home life- I thought it was better handled, more balanced, and easier to follow.  I was also thrilled to see Charlotte go out in the world and do things, including canne de combat and a bit of light housebreaking.

I am intrigued by the way the author is working to break apart the Sherlock Holmes Mythos.  It’s becoming more common in various adaptations these days; one series that did it in a particularly excellent fashion is the 2013 Russian series.  Rather than take the canon at its word about who Holmes is, both this book and the Russian series choose to pick it apart.  In this book series, Charlotte Holmes loses none of the deductive brilliance of her canon counterpart; but instead of being athletic and prone to forgetting about food or drink, Charlotte is pudgy, a bit lazy, and adores her food- almost a Mycroft, but far more willing to go find answers.  However, rather than leaving her that way, we get to see her grow and change and make strides to being the more familiar Holmes we know from canon.

I am also growing more and more fond of the secondary characters of the series.  I’ll leave the Watsons for analysis down below, but there are a few other characters who return in this book.  I disliked the presence of Lord Ingram in the first book, in part because he has no canon counterpart, and because I have never particularly enjoyed romances.  While the tension between he and Charlotte remains in this book, I found myself enjoying him more, especially as he became less patronizing and more of an actual ally to Charlotte.  Lord Bancroft was excellent, and while I remain disappointed that the Mycroft role didn’t go to Livia (Charlotte’s sister- more on her below), I am utterly charmed by him nonetheless.  I hope that the author allows him to return in future books, even though his function in this book’s narrative is concluded.  The Marbletons continue to intrigue, and Mrs. Burns stole the scenes she appeared in.  Though she was certainly a one-off character, I cannot help but hope that Mrs. Watson will hire her.  Inspector Treadles, however, was pointless in this book, and I’m not entirely sure why he was included, unless the developments in his household will become important later on.

Given that Holmes is a woman in this series, it would be almost impossible for it not to interact in some way with Victorian gender roles.  It does, in some ways, but when Charlotte or the other women run into barriers, it often has as much to do with class as it does with their gender.  Class is wielded like a weapon by all the characters in this series, in complex and fascinating ways.  The issues of legitimacy and social freedoms abound, ultimately causing all of the unhappiness and trials that lead to the mysteries.  None of this is a heavy stick, however; the author weaves these issues into the story in a very natural way.

While I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who prefers their pastiches as close to canon as possible, I would recommend it for anyone who likes those pastiches that go a little further astray.  I am looking forward to seeing what Charlotte and her friends will encounter next, and to discover just how it all will come together in the end.

What About Our Watson?

 Which one?

Just as the author has given Holmes some of the characteristics of Mycroft, our Watson figure is divided evenly among three different women.  The first is, in fact, Mrs. Watson, an older woman who was once an actress.  The second is Penelope, her niece, who is studying to be a doctor.  The third is Livia, Charlotte’s sister, still trapped in the unhappy family home.

I. Love. These. Women. Though at times I wished for a more traditional (read: singular) Watson figure in the first book, especially since Mrs. Watson and Livia had little to do, the second book capitalizes on the fact that three different people are acting as a Watson figure and gives them tons of material to work with. All three play their part in solving the mystery and acting as a valuable source of companionship and information to Charlotte.  Mrs. Watson (who also has a bit of Mrs. Hudson in her) cares deeply about Charlotte and is very protective of her, working to train her in self-defense, while also helping her hare off into her next, somewhat ill-advised, idea.  Penelope helps get Charlotte in houses, utilizing her doctor-in-training role as leverage, and is clearly enamoured of the adventurous parts of the detective life.  Livia, cloistered away, can really only talk to her disgraced sister via letter, but still provides vital information and also begins writing the first Sherlock Holmes story.  None of these women are unintelligent; all of them are loyal to Charlotte.  Though they each have their different strengths, they all contribute to solving the mysteries before them.  What’s more, they are willing to run off and do dangerous work, either with glee or trepidation.  When they encounter the less savoury parts of detective work, they never shy away.  All three of them dig in their heels and confront it, head on.

I love a singular Watson, because I love to see a strong, deep, life-altering friendship.  But despite my misgivings, I have come to appreciate Watson’s role spread across these different characters, because it means that this Holmes gets to have three Watsons, and really, what more could one ask for in life?

You Might Like This Book If You Like:

Victorian women protagonists; series long mysteries; family dramas; pastries

Is there a book you want Lucy to review? Let her know!

I hereby declare the 2017 Treasure Hunt… open!

Gooooood morning, Hunters!

It is now 9 a.m., August 1st, (CET) here in Italy, corresponding to midnight, July 31st, PST. I have chosen the hour as an homage to our previous Hunt Master, Margie Deck a.k.a. “Mopsy”, who lives on the Pacific coast. You can submit your answers until midnight, August 31st, PST. For further details, please check the Rules page.

A forum has been opened on the Quiz page for questions, clarifications, complaints, etc.  I will try to respond to any postings as quickly as possible, but please remember that I’m living in a Central Europe time zone.
You will certainly find some error in the document, especially considering my sometimes poor English. Any needed clarifications will be posted to the forum.  Please check it for updates every now and then.

The hunt is scored on a very simple point system. I’ve tried to avoid complications since I’m not as good as our previous Hunt Master. Therefore, 1 correct answer = 1 point, for a maximum of 100 points available. However, many questions are composed of multiple parts, so if you know part of a question (e.g. Who?), but not the other part (e.g. When?), please add the part you do know to your document.  You will receive credit for each individual part of the question that is answered correctly, so 0.5 points will be awarded for partly answered questions.

I have uploaded the Treasure Hunt both in Microsoft Word (.doc) and in .pdf.
Please see the rules page for instructions for submitting your finished hunt.

The game, ladies and gentlemen, is now officially afoot.

Michele

JHWS Treasure Hunt 2017 questions

JHWS Treasure Hunt 2017 questions

“Quite Remarkable Talent In Planning” [COPP]*

“‘Come, Watson, come!’ he cried. ‘The game is afoot.'” [ABBE] (Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine, 1904)

Now that we are closer to the end of 2017 than the beginning, we are looking ahead to 2018 (and beyond). Calendar Year 2018 Memberships are now available in the Shop in Paperless, Domestic PDF+Paper, and International PDF+Paper options. Current members with subscription expiry dates in mid-2018 who would like to continue receiving paper copies of The Watsonian without interruption may opt for the Renewal for Memberships Ending Mid-2018. (That’s some forward planning!)

If you are unsure when your membership ends, please see our Member Page.

Looking forward to more Watsonian adventures with all of you!

*Yes, I know I’ve wrenched that quote way out of context.

A Note from Chips

In the comments on Sunday’s entry, Chips wrote:

Margie, Beth and all my other loved friends in the John H Watson Society. My health does not allow me to continue my column Tid Bits.
I will try to publish some things as I can. I hate to be so abrupt but I have to do what I can when I can. Thank you my dear,dear, friends, Ron, One for whom the game always has been, always is now always will be, the Lord permitting, Afoot

Our Chips has been dealing with health issues for some time, and he had planned to share a bit about them tomorrow (July 26th), because it is also the date in his much-referenced chronology for Percy Phelps’s recovery from Brain Fever [NAVA].

This is so strangely appropriate to what I have to inform you all of. I waited to inform you because of my off-beat sense of humor coupled with a fanatical love of the Canon. I wanted to tie it in with this occurrence in the Canon.  A few months ago I went in to hospital for some neurological programs. They tell me I  have a small tumor that is causing some problems that could be called an attack of Brain Fever. We are huddling to figure out where to proceed next with treatment.

Our thoughts are with Chips and his loved ones. Ron, please know you have our love, our support, and all our best wishes.

On July 24th…

“It is too little to say William Gillette resembled Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes looks exactly like William Gillette.” (Orson Welles, Mercury Theatre on the Air, 25 September 1938)

William Hooker Gillette was born on July 24, 1853, in Hartford, Connecticut. He played Sherlock Holmes on stage for the first time in 1899, and is inextricably linked to the role in the minds of many fans, having performed it more than 1300 times. He appeared in a 1916 film based on the play he wrote – a film thought long-lost until a copy was discovered in the Cinémathèque Française archive in 2014. The restored film was featured at film festivals and released on DVD in 2015.

(Ariana Maher (JHWS “Carla”) recounts her trip to see it at the Seattle International Film Festival in “A Day at the Movies“.)

The four-act play took elements from “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Final Problem”, as well as A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”, and “The Greek Interpreter”. Other than Holmes, Watson, and Moriarty, the characters were Gillette’s inventions. Those include Alice Faulkner – Holmes’s client and eventual romantic interest – and Billy the Pageboy, before his appearance in “The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone”.

Cover illustration by Frederic Dorr Steele for Collier’s (1904)

Gillette’s portrayal of Holmes shaped the American image of the Great Detective. The curved pipe (which was better for being understood on stage) and the deerstalker cap (taken from Paget’s illustrations) became permanent accessories. Frederic Dorr Steele’s illustrations of Holmes for Collier’s Weekly seem to take Gillette as a model.

Between 1914 and 1919, Gillette designed and had constructed an elaborate home in East Haddam, CT. Upon his death in 1937, his will instructed that his home should not be allowed to go to  “some blithering saphead who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded.” The property was purchased by the State of Connecticut in 1943 and is now known as Gillette Castle State Park.

 

Sources: A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”); The Sherlock Holmes Miscellany, by Roger Johnson (JHWS “Count”) and Jean Upton (JHWS “Countess”); Kevin Noonan, “Lost ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Film Discovered After Almost a Century” (Variety.com); and IMDb.

The Flat at 221B by Jody Baker (AKA Inspector Baynes)

Jody was a good friend, again one I never met, but we exchanged e-mails and grew to be friends. I was a long-distance member of his society, Friends of the Soldier Named Murray. The group had the distinction of being the only active Scion in a Retirement Home recognized by Wiggins of the Baker Street Irregulars. When Jody and his wife decided it was time to move to a facility where his wife and he had the care they needed , they brought their love of All Things Sherlock with them. Their society was a hit with other residents and members all over the world with whom he had communicated. Their monthly meetings and their gazette, The Alpha Gazette, were lively and entertaining and full of a love of his passionate desire of the World of 1895. This is one article of many he and I exchanged. He informed me I could pass them along to keep the word of the Master forever Green.

THE FLAT AT 221B

The pleasure of seeing a mystery unveiled or a puzzle revealed might be the major attraction of the canonical tales. But these are found in most mystery stories that follow the plot formula of Poe. As we search for the distinguishing characteristic of the Holmes tales, perhaps, we might look at the “snuggery” factor If there ever was a cozy retreat, it was 221B Baker Street.

Though large enough to be “airy,” the flat was a self-contained unit where every necessity and every comfort were on hand for Holmes and Watson. Mrs. Hudson was always there to send up “beef, bread and beer” for the sideboard, or a hearty breakfast in the mornings, tea in the afternoons and other repast as needed, at any time. (How fortunate this fraternity of two to have Mrs. Hudson for a housemother.)

The tantalus, we know, was endowed with an endless supply of whisky. The nearby gasogene was never once known to run out of gas. Tobacco in the Persian slipper and cigars in the coal scuttle were there for the satisfaction of smokers. There was no shortage here of chemical contentment.

Resources to be consulted were always within reach. No need to go out on a stormy night to review records at the public library or the CID files at the Yard. Everything was right here. There were commonplace books for data, the agony columns, notes on old cases and techniques of past investigations and a supply of name directories for all manner of identifications. With everything on hand, Holmes rarely had to leave the fireside to research his cases.

Then, too, there was the warmth of the hearth fire to which our characters were drawn for their camaraderie and conversations. Nothing could be more comfortable than to walk from the blazing coal grate over to the nearby bow window and gaze out into the winter night. (Giant snowflakes float from a dark sky and land on wet cobblestones glistening with the reflected light of gas lamps.)

As an element of security, 221B was a second floor flat which commanded a full view of both the street below and the front door to the residence. Inside, the sound from the treads of 17 steps told Holmes much about a visitor even before the knock at the sitting room door, giving him the advantage over all who called upon him. By the strength of his personality, the clarity of his perception and his innate mental superiority, Holmes could dominate anyone who ventured to enter this sanctum sanctorum. (The mother-bird protects the nest by exercising control over it.)

Finally and most important, there was the fast, warm, manly friendship between two individuals, each of whom could accept the shortcomings of the other and appreciate the strengths of the other. Their personalities, though different, were complementary and not conflictive. Each was supremely confident of his own abilities in his own field. Holmes had his crimes to solve, and Watson had his romances (with the women of many nations on three continents) to pursue. Neither suffered from the insecurity which sometimes forces men to compete where competition serves no useful purpose.

These are a few of the factors of the friendship and of the snuggery in which that friendship prospered. In looking for the attraction of the Holmes tales, these should not be overlooked.

Josiah “Jody” Baker

FRIENDS OF THE SOLDIER NAMED MURRAY,
A Sherlock Holmes Society,
at The Terrace On Mountain Creek
SCION of the BAKER STREET IRREGULARS
.

The Treasure Hunt, Second Appetizer: Answer

Dear All,

I have received many ingenious replies, but only one team gave the correct one.
The SOB Team (Margie and Sheila) hit the mark perfectly and the best I can do is to quote their answer literally:
–Place & Name of the ‘Ghost’: British Museum /  British Museum Underground Station, no longer in use
–Stories, where it is noted Holmes went to the British Museum: HOUN, WIST
HOUN–
“I learned at the British Museum that he was a recognized authority upon the subject, and that the name of Vandeleur has been permanently attached to a certain moth which he had, in his Yorkshire days, been the first to describe.”
WIST–
“One morning he spent in town, and I learned from a casual reference that he had visited the British Museum. Save for this one excursion, he spent his days in long, and often solitary, walks, or in chatting with a number of village gossips whose acquaintance he had cultivated.”
“I spent a morning in the British Museum reading up that and other points. Here is a quotation from Eckermann’s `Voodooism and the Negroid Religions’: – ”  
Wikipedia:
–British Museum was a station on the London Underground, located in Holborn, central London. It was latterly served by the Central line and took its name from the nearby British Museum in Great Russell Street.
The station was opened by the Central London Railway in 1900. In 1933, with the expansion of Holborn station, less than 100 yards away, British Museum station was permanently closed. It was subsequently utilised as a military office and command post, but in 1989 the surface building was demolished and the remainder of the station is wholly disused.
–Ghost stations is the usual English translation for the German word Geisterbahnhöfe. This term was used to describe certain stations on Berlin’s U-Bahn and S-Bahn metro networks that were closed during the period of Berlin’s division during the Cold War. Since then, the term has come to be used to describe any disused underground station actively passed through by passenger trains, especially those on an underground railway line.

So, just a little clarification: I decided to cut this question out of the Hunt because the use of the term “ghost station” is not as familiar in English as is Geisterbahnhöfe to the Germans or “stazione fantasma” to the Italians. If you search the internet for a list of former London Underground stations you will probably find them described as “abandoned stations” or “disused stations”, not as “ghost stations”. This made the question very difficult indeed.
I must congratulate my fellow members of Uno Studio in Holmes who sent incredibly elaborate answers, digging deeply in the lore and tradition of English and German ghosts, in literature and otherwise. I kept telling them that it was easier than that… 🙂
Other valiant efforts were made by Robert Perret and Richard Olken. Thanks everybody for your answers.
We’re just about one week from the start of the Hunt. Keep your wits sharpened!

Michele, JHWS “Reggie”

On July 21st…

For generations of Sherlockian devotees around the world, Basil Rathbone was known as Sherlock Holmes. He portrayed the detective in two movies produced by Twentieth Century Fox and set in the Victorian era: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939).

These movies pulled out all the stops; Twentieth Century Fox made what Chips considers one of the top versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles. As usual, they made some puzzling minor changes and one major change in the script to attract audiences, but otherwise it is a great movie. They converted more than one sound stage to make a wonderful moor and the chase of Sir Henry Baskerville by the hound had no music sound track underneath. It was more terrifying because of that.

Rathbone and his Watson from both films, Nigel Bruce, went on to feature in twelve films produced by Universal Studios that brought the characters forward in time to fight Nazis during World War II, among other adventures. With those films, fans of a generation learned of Sherlock Holmes. The films have morphed into a television event that can still be seen today. Thank Goodness for the chance to watch and re-watch these films.

The popularity of the films was a mixed blessing for Rathbone, who felt he had become typecast by the role.

“I was so badly typed,” he once said, “that when I went back to New York I lost my own identity. On the street no one ever said ‘Good morning, Basil,’ or ‘Good morning, Mr. Rathbone.’

“They said ‘Good morning, Sherlock.’”

He continued to work in film, television, and radio in a variety of roles through the 1960s. In 1956, he published an autobiography, In and Out of Character. He passed after an apparent heart attack on July 21, 1967, survived by his wife, Ouida, their daughter, Cynthia, and his son from his previous marriage, Rodion.

Sources: A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”); Los Angeles Times; and IMDb.