Mixed Teams in the Canon, or Crime Is an Equal Opportunity Employer

[After last week’s Forum topic of “Villainesses, Adventuresses, and Other Canonical Women“, Ron Lies (JHWS “Chips”) sent this paper he wrote a couple of years ago for further consideration. Please do add your thoughts in the comments! –Selena Buttons]

Film still from The Hound of the Baskervilles

Morton Lowry and Wendy Barrie as the Stapletons in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)

A question posted on the Welcome Holmes discussion site started it all. “Isn’t it rare in the Canon to have a male and female act jointly for a criminal purpose?”

I came up with the following list and added some of my thoughts about the pairings. What is a team? The first definition I come to is a group of people banded together to accomplish a common goal. But can a group of people with different reasons for being in that group be called a team? Can someone be forced by fear or blackmail to be in that group be a member of such a team? I say yes, how about you dear reader? Let me know what you think? I would welcome your thoughts along with any pairing I missed.

Teams Consisting of One Male and One Female

1. My first pairing is Barney and Susan Stockdale in 3GAB. From the words of their employer in this case “They are good hounds who run silent.”—- “They will take what comes to them. “That is what they are paid for.”, All 3 of the above quotes are from Isadora Klein, their current employer. I shudder to have be the target of their services or have crossed their Employer.

2. Next is Mr. Jethro Rucastle and his second wife in COPP. This odious couple is working for the same purpose and result. A father and a stepmother working against the father’s own daughter. What will their son turn to be with such parental figures to look up to?

3. Our third team is the butler Brunton and Rachel Howells in MUSG. This duo could be proof of the old adage “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned”. Or was the outcome of the case a tragic accident? I find it hard to feel sympathy for Brunton. Yet Brunton feeling his life dying with each breath he takes, so horrible!

4. Anna Sergius (wife of Sergius/Professor Corum) and the unnamed second secretary of Professor Corum, in GOLD. He was an agent of a private detective firm who provided Anna with what she needed to break into the Professor’s. Then the unnamed agent quit before he was involved any further in Anna’s plot. So she is forced to go into the Professor’s on her own. Blind so to speak.

5. There is Anna Sergius and Professor Corum, in GOLD. They acted together to hide Anna from discovery by Holmes and The authorities. They hated each other and wanted the other dead but they acted together for a common purpose, I wonder what would have happened if they would deceived Holmes and Authorities who have left Professor and Anna alone to their own devices.
Anna Sergius is one for which it can be said that she was in the wrong places at the wrong times. She strikes me as a female Joe Btfsplk: The world’s worst Jinx (Check out the Cartoon strip Li’l Abner by Al Capp for background)

6. In the HOUN, we have Beryl Garcia, aka Vandeleur, aka Stapleton. In addition, there is Jack Baskerville aka, Vandeleur aka Stapleton.
Beryl composed and sent the letter warning Sir Henry not to go to Baskerville Hall. She tries to warn who she thought was Sir Henry on the moor. Beryl seems not to be a willing participant yet she is willing to risk her life to warn a stranger?

7. Sir George Burnwell and Mary Holder are next, in the Beryl Coronet. Here are a combination of the wolf and the sheep. They are one of the best examples I know of love being blind.

8. A mean team is James Ryder and Catherine Cusack, in BLUE. To do the crime and try to pin it on an innocent party and at Christmas time! They are my candidates for The Marley Scrooge, Snidely Whiplash award for the nastiest at Christmas Time. (For background, if needed on Whiplash see the Adventures of Dudley Do Right on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show.) If background needed on Marley and Scrooge, you have to be kidding!

9. Next up is Jonas Oldacre and his housekeeper Mrs. Lexington, in the Norwood Builder. Talk about there being a fine line between love and hate. His housekeeper could fill in for Mrs. Danvers at Manderley. (See the novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier if background is required)

10. James Windibank aka Hosmer and Mrs. Windibank, in IDEN. What a pair! I have heard of evil stepparents but an evil stepfather and the victims own mother. That is a new one on me.

11. Then there is Mrs. Eugenia Ronder and Leonardo the strong man, in VEIL. Mrs. Ronder is one for whom I have sympathy for. Holmes was extremely kind and sympathetic to her. To me, this is an example of what Holmes had learned about people over the years and how he changed.

12. We have The Lady Trelawney Hope and Eduardo Lucas, in SECO. The expression of “being caught between a rock and a hard place” fits this Lady Hope to a T. I have my suspicions about the lady herself. She showed a clever mind later on in the story. Yet for her to believe that she was being forced to steal only minor papers at the start?

13. We have Holy Peters and Annie Frasier aka Peters, aka Schlesinger, in SOLI. They are another pair of really, really, nasty people. I wonder if there has ever been a pastiche written about these two.

14. Next come the Butler Barrymore and his wife Elisa in HOUN. I imagine Barrymore as a man in a difficult situation. On one hand, he has an obligation to turn in a viscous killer, on the other destroying his wife and possibly his marriage.

15. We have Von Bork and his wife, in LAST. His wife acted as a funnel for minor papers while protected by her diplomatic immunity. Von Bork had one very bad evening.

16. Then we have Reuben Hayes and his wife in PRIO. This unnamed wife had a reputation in the neighborhood as a good person. Yet she could not do anything and would not do anything without her husband’s permission for fear of her husband.

17 We have the unnamed Man, who acted as carriage driver and his equally unnamed wife in GREE. Surely, that must be a pastiche written involving these two characters. On the other hand, maybe posting this will give someone the idea to write one.

Teams Consisting of One Female and Two Males

18. We come to a trio who very little is known about. We have Elsie, Stark and Ferguson from ENGR. Elsie is opposed to Stark using violence again so she has been with the team at least a year. If so why does she stay? Family love, Romantic Love, Fear, or another reason? She warns our Engineer, helps him escape. So why leave our maimed and bleeding helpless Engineer laying in the garden? Short of a confession from one of the three we will never know.

19. Here are Carrie Evans and her husband, who practiced his trade as an actor, and Sir Robert Norberton from SHOS. The old saying that money is the root of all-evil applies in this case. That must have been quite a brother sister relationship in the Norberton family.

20. Next we have Ivy Douglas, her husband John Douglas aka Bertie Edwards and Cecil Barker in VALL. Mrs. Douglas was trying to protect her husband. I have wondered, based on my reading the story, were Cecil Barker’s motives really, what they seemed to be on the surface?

Teams Consisting of Two Females and One Male

21. Lady Eva Brackenstall, her personal maid Theresa Wright and Captain Jack Crocker in ABBE.A plot device that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used so well in this and the next case on this list.

22. Hatty Doran/Mouton, her personal maid Alice, and Frank Mouton in NOBL. To marry another man while seeing her first husband in attendance. Wow! What a lady who can think so fast on her feet.

Teams Consisting of a Female as Leader of a Group of Males

23. Signora Victor Durando/Miss Bernet and the society who conspired against Don Murillo in WIST: Revenge in this case is one I can sympathize with and hope she was able to find peace.

24. Isadora Klein and The Spencer John gang in 3GAB. This Villainess reminds of Cruella De Ville of The original Disney cartoon movie “One Hundred and One Dalmatians.” To paraphrase the song about Ms. De Ville:
“At first you think Isadora is a devil, but after time has worn away the shock, you come to realize you’ve seen those kinds of eyes watching you from underneath a rock. A vampire bat, an inhuman beast! She ought to be locked up and never released. She’s like a spider waiting for the kill,” look out for Isadora Klein!

Finally, There is my Favorite One of All

25. A female or is it a male impersonating an old woman and Jefferson Hope in STUD? Did this person give Jefferson Hope help in other ways that Watson and Holmes were not aware? How about the ideas that the fellow actor helping Hope was John Clay or a member of the Moriarty organization helped Hope in return for a promise to help the Professor when the Professor called the favor in.

The opportunities for Sherlockian research theories will continue for as long people can read and think “what if?” May the Canon always be with us!

By Ron Lies, “Chips” 5-19-15


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