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Category Archives: Last Bow

His Last Bow

The 17 Steps: Wisteria Lodge

The 17 Steps: Wisteria Lodge

Seventeen thoughts for further ponderance of the case at hand – Wisteria Lodge (WIST)

There was a face looking in at me through the lower pane. ~ Illustration by Arthur Twidle in The Strand Magazine – September 1908

THE POLLYANNA OF DETECTIVES
“Audacity and romance seem to have passed forever from the criminal world,” bemoans Sherlock Holmes in “The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge,” sounding like a Raffles fan who just watched an episode of “COPS.”

Isn’t this view a bit dreamy for a man who has dealt with very real, very vicious criminals for a decade? Was the criminal world ever romantic outside of fiction?

THE MASTER AND HIS CLASS
“Private detectives are a class with whom I have absolutely no sympathy,” states Scott Eccles.

What would a common, conservative citizen of 1892 know of private detectives as a class? Would we expect a fellow like Eccles to encounter on in everyday life?

THE BACKWARDS WATSONIAN STORYTELLER
“You are like my friend, Dr. Watson,” Holmes tells Eccles, “who has a bad habit of telling his stories wrong end foremost.”

Was Holmes speaking of Watson’s written work, or merely his habits in daily conversation? Is the Canon told “wrong end first”?

DINING HEAD-TO-HEAD
“Our dinner was tete-a-tete,” Scott Eccles tells of his visit to Garcia.

What was Eccles expecting it to be? Had Garcia led him to believe it was going to be a party? Why was a private meal with one’s host worth remarking about?

THE ADMIRABLE MR. BAYNES
“A woman, as usual, was at the bottom of it,” Baynes comments after his admirable display in finding the discarded note.

For all his promise as a detective, does Baynes also display some heavy shortcomings like a prejudice against women?

PETTY CASH ON BAKER STREET
“You will show these gentlemen out, Mrs. Hudson, and kindly send the boy with this telegram. He is to pay a five-shilling reply.”

Holmes doesn’t hand Mrs. Hudson five shillings to pay for that reply, so where is she getting the money? A standing cash reservoir that Holmes supplies, or would she be expected to use her own money, keep a record, and bill him later?

THE ADVENTURES OF ANOTHER COWARDLY CONSTABLE
Walters shivers: “And the look of it–the great staring goggle eyes, and the line of white teeth like a hungry beast. I tell you, sir, I couldn’t move a finger, nor get my breath, till it whisked away and was gone. Out I ran and through the shrubbery, but thank God there was no one there.”

Would Walters have been carrying a gun for his vigil? Why was he so spooked by a dead chicken, when nobody in the area seemed up on voodoo?

AND NEXT, HIS MONOGRAPH ON SHOE SIZES
“”Yes,” Holmes reports, after a short examination of the grass bed, “a number twelve shoe, I should say.”

How might Holmes have been gauging shoe sizes at the scene of the crime without a measuring device? Did he have a method, or was he just using guesswork specifics to make himself sound more skilled?

EL MARIACHI, 1892 STYLE
“Odds and ends, some pipes, a few novels, two of them in Spanish, an old-fashioned pinfire revolver, and a guitar were among the personal property.”

Was the guitar a particularly Spanish instrument in 1892? Where would one expect to commonly find one in English life of that period?

THE BAYNES SYSTEM OF CRIME SOLVING
“But we all have our own systems, Mr. Holmes. You have yours, and maybe I have mine,” Baynes explains once he has captured the mulatto cook.

What methods did Baynes plan to use at this point? He had captured his suspect . . . was he going to use extreme measures on his prisoner?

AH, THE LEISURELY SERVANT LIFE!
“For the rest, his house is full of butlers, footmen, maidservants, and the usual overfed, underworked staff of a large English country-house.”

What percentage of the servant class was Holmes referring to here? Did they really have it that easy, or is this Holmes displaying a slight prejudice from his past?

THOSE SAVAGES AND THEIR FILTHY DEITIES
From “Eckermann’s Voodooism and the Negroid Religions” we hear:

“The true voodoo-worshipper attempts nothing of importance without certain sacrifices which are intended to propitiate his unclean gods. In extreme cases these rites take the form of human sacrifices followed by cannibalism. The more usual victims are a white cock, which is plucked in pieces alive, or a black goat, whose throat is cut and body burned.”

Okay, that’s the aloof Victorian view of one man’s religion. What was the cook attempting from his point of view? Did his arcane rites have some purpose in voodoo traditions other than the general appeasement of angry gods?

DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO SAN PEDRO?
Based on the scan information we have in this tale, would anyone care to hazard some speculation as to where, exactly, San Pedro was? (And while we’re at it, where did the voodoo-loving cook come from? The “backwoods of San Pedro”? How about New Orleans, serving up Cajun or Creole food? Or Haiti, serving up whatever Haitian specialties there are?)

LIKE PUTTING YOUR NAME ON A MARQUEE
“Some six months afterwards the Marquess of Montalva and Signor Rulli, his secretary, were both murdered in their rooms at the Hotel Escurial at Madrid.”

Mr. Henderson of High Gable seems to be a low profile sort of guy, with good reason. Wouldn’t people be more likely to wonder about the background and credentials of supposed nobility, than a “Mr. Henderson”? Could someone just waltz into Madrid claiming they were a marquis? Why would Don Murillo make such a move?

THE COLORS OF REVOLUTION?
“If you look it up you will find that the San Pedro colours are green and white,” Miss Burnet explains.

Wouldn’t the colours of a country whose dictator deserved an obsessive quest for vengeance be just the thing they wouldn’t be wanting to use? Or did these colors come into use after dictator Don Murillo was gone?

THE TELL-TALE SIGNS ON THE BODY
Miss Burnet explains, “I was confined to my room, terrorized by the most horrible threats, cruelly ill-used to break my spirit–see this stab on my shoulder and the bruises from end to end of my arms.”

Burnet was seriously abused, to be sure. But what sort of abuse leaves bruises all along her arms, end to end? Would grabbing alone do such damage?

VENGEANCE OF A VOODO PRIEST
“Knowing that he would return there, Garcia, who is the son of the former highest dignitary in San Pedro, was waiting with two trusty companions of humble station, all three fired with the same reasons for revenge.”

So if Garcia picked up his cook in his travels, why was the cook so fired up about revenge on Don Murillo? Did he really have any part in this aside from cooking?

The Seventeen Steps originally appeared on the Hounds of the Internet e-list from September 2000 to October 2001 and later on the Sherlock Peoria blog.

Brad Keefauver, the 41st Garrideb, is the author of The Elementary Methods of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock and the Ladies, and The Armchair Baskerville Tour. Former publisher of The Holmes & Watson ReportThe Dangling Prussian, and a whole lot of obscure, collectable little things on our boy Sherlock. Keefauver is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars and the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes.

The Bimetallic Question of Montreal’s Lapel Pin

The Bimetallic Question of Montreal’s Lapel Pin

“… a Minister needs information as to a point which involves the Navy, India, Canada, and the bi-metallic question …” – The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans (BRUC) It was in The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans  that we learned of Mycroft Holmes knowledge of the bi-metallic question. Bimetallism is the practice of a country using… Continue Reading

A Connection Between Coins

A Connection Between Coins

We are sharing this post from the British Royal Mint’s website. To see the original post, click HERE. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the majority of the Sherlock Holmes™ stories during the Victorian era. The coinage of Queen Victoria, amongst other coins, included the Sovereign, the Half-Sovereign, the crown and the shilling. Struck by The… Continue Reading

In for a Penny, In for a Pound – British Money as Holmes Knew It

In for a Penny, In for a Pound – British Money as Holmes Knew It

“I’d like two shillin’ better” – The Sign of the Four (SIGN) Some Sherlockians are puzzled by references to money in the Sherlock Holmes adventures – “a fifty-guinea watch” in The Sign of Four, a pipe that cost “seven-and sixpence” in “The Yellow Face.” The British monetary system was undoubtedly complicated. A pound was divided into 20 shillings,… Continue Reading

British Royal Mint Now Selling 2019 Sets With Sherlock Holmes Coin

British Royal Mint Now Selling 2019 Sets With Sherlock Holmes Coin

“… a work which had been specially designed to please him.” – The Sign of the Four (SIGN) On January 1, 2019, the British Royal Mint released the designs of their 2019 dated coins and began selling the annual sets to collectors. As we predicted in our earlier post about the 2019 Sherlock Holmes 50 Pence coin,… Continue Reading

British Royal Mint to Issue Holmes 50 Pence Coins in January 2019

British Royal Mint to Issue Holmes 50 Pence Coins in January 2019

“It might be his portrait.” – The Hound of the Baskervilles (HOUN) In January 2019, the British Royal Mint will be issuing a series of 50 pence coins honoring Sherlock Holmes. Late yesterday, an image of the coin’s design was leaked and shared to the World of Coins website. Below is the proclamation authorizing these coins, as… Continue Reading

Data! Data! Data! – His Last Bow

Data! Data! Data! – His Last Bow

“‘Data! Data! Data!‘ he cried impatiently. ‘I can’t make bricks without clay.’” – The Adventures of The Copper Beeches (COPP) This column is composed of material (Data!) developed for a short course called Appreciating Sherlock Holmes that I teach twice a year in the Community Education Life Enrichment Program for a local community college. It is… Continue Reading

From Watson’s Tin Box: His Last Bow

From Watson’s Tin Box: His Last Bow

“Somewhere in the vaults of the bank of Cox and Co., at Charing Cross, there is a travel-worn and battered tin dispatch-box with my name, John H. Watson, MD, Late Indian Army, painted upon the lid.” – The Problem of Thor Bridge (THOR) Watson’s Tin Box, a BSI scion that meets in Columbia, Maryland, shares a few… Continue Reading

The 17 Steps: His Last Bow

The 17 Steps: His Last Bow

Seventeen thoughts for further ponderance of the case at hand – His Last Bow (LAST) THE RECORD HOLDER FOR TERRIBLE Watson begins this tale, published in 1917 with: “It was nine o’clock at night upon the second of August–the most terrible August in the history of the world.” And indeed it was — at that time.… Continue Reading

A Challenge Coin for the Pinkertons

A Challenge Coin for the Pinkertons

“But you’ve heard of Pinkerton‘s?” – The Valley of Fear (VALL) Pinkerton’s Detective Agency is mentioned in two of the stories of the Canon – The Valley of Fear and The Adventure of the Red Circle. This 38mm challenge coin  has a very nice rendering of the Pinkerton’s logo. For those that like to collect items that… Continue Reading