Sunday, September 17, 2017

And Now as to the Villains

Quick sidenote before we get started:  I was interviewed by one of my favorite Sherlockians, Leah Guinn, on The Well Read Sherlockian last week about The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street.  You can read the interview on her site, here.


I missed last week's deadline due to the fact that I also needed to put up a blog post recapping The Parallel Case of St. Louis's August meeting.  Seems how each blog post takes me an hour to an hour and a half to do, and that my family wants to spend time with me for some reason, it just wasn't in the cards to get two posts up last week.


I've spoken about my love for my local scion here, but man I love those meetings!  We talk about current events in the Sherlockian world, and then we get right down to the story.  You would think with these stories being over 100 years old, they wouldn't evoke such debate, but here we are, still reading the Baker Street Journal, attending conferences and meetings, and posting our thoughts on blogs and social media.

A conversation I've been having with other Sherlockians quite a bit lately is on the topic of villains.  The Occupants of the Empty House in southern Illinois just had a special meeting to debate who the worst villain of the canon was, and if I had been there after reading "The Noble Bachelor" like I did for the Parallel Case meeting this month, I might have argued for Hatty Doran to be on that list.


Because Hatty Doran sucks.

Sure, she's not Professor Moriarty or Grimsby Roylott, but she's a vile person.  Here's a quick review of the story:  Robert St. Simon is getting married to Hatty Doran.  She drops her bouquet at the wedding, some dude in the audience hands it to her, and St. Simon and Doran get married.  The new couple go to the wedding breakfast, St. Simon's ex-girlfriend shows up and makes a scene, and Hatty disappears.  Holmes finds her and her REAL husband (spoilers) and everything is resolved at a dinner at Baker Street.

Obviously, there's more to the story.  And I would strongly recommend you reread the Conan Doyle original, because he writes a great tale here without the reader ever leaving the confines of Baker Street.  But what I want to focus on here is the real villain, Hatty.


Over the course of this story, Hatty Doran is presented with many choices and she always chooses the one that's easiest for her and causes pain to others.  Her father says she can't marry Frank Moulton when she's a young woman.  Instead of trying to talk to her father or have Frank meet with him, she sneaks off and does it anyway.

Then her new husband goes off and she learns that he PROBABLY died in an Apache attack.  Well, since she never told her dad that she's married, he introduces her to an English nobleman on vacation in San Francisco.  After a courtship, Hattie and dad head off to England for for her to be married to the nobleman.  And the only proof that she has that her husband is dead is a newspaper article.

Has this woman never heard of fake news?
Maybe these slights against her father and husband can be swept under the rug due to the power fathers had over their daughters and the lack of fact checking in the press during this time.  But then comes her wedding day.  Hatty sees Frank among the crowd before her wedding starts.  Here is where all sympathy I could have for her goes out the window.  She sees her husband (who is NOT DEAD) in the church and she goes through with a fraudulent marriage anyway.

Seriously, let that sink in.  That's crap.  And then she runs away!  Here is a direct quote from Hatty: "I know I ought to have spoken to Lord St. Simon, but it was dreadful hard before his mother and all those great people. I just made up my mind to run away and explain afterwards."  But she didn't explain!  She let St. Simon's ex-girlfriend take the wrap for murdering her and when Frank tells her they should let St. Simon know that she ran off with her rightful husband, she says no thanks.


And THAT is why I think Hatty Doran should be on a list of worst villains in the canon!  At no point in this story does she make a choice that is for the good of others, only what's convenient for her.  The Baker Street Babes had a series of articles that ran for a while called Femme Friday, where they covered kick ass Sherlockian female characters from all versions of the canon.  You know who's not on that list?  Hatty Doran.

“It can’t be a coincidence,” [Sherlock Holmes] cried, at last springing from his chair and pacing wildly up and down the room.


No, Mister Holmes, I don't think it is.   A truly villainous woman indeed.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I Would Call Your Attention Very Particularly to Two Points.

This week's post is a twofer.  After two big weeks, my book release and the Nerve and Knowledge event, life has gotten back to normal as a Sherlockian.  I wanted to highlight two smaller, but still significant events in my life as a Sherlockian this week.

First up, is the current book I'm reading, From Holmes to Sherlock by Mattias Bostrom.  Now, if you're reading this blog, you probably follow some Sherlockian news, so you've probably heard of this book, if you don't already own it yourself.

That's because this book is important.



I am about a half of the way through it,  but can already see how this book will become a new cornerstone of Sherlockian research.  I would imagine people who read William Baring-Gould's Annotated Sherlock Holmes felt the same way when it came out.  What Mattias Bostrom has done in his new book is absolutely phenomenal.  He has taken years of research and stories and combined them into a single volume, adding a lot of information that was new to me along the way.

This book covers everything from Arthur Conan Doyle's life all the way up to the BBC Sherlock and everything in between.  Like I said, I'm about halfway through, and Conan Doyle has died by this point (sorry if that's a spoiler), and Bostrom is taking the reader through the formation of the Baker Street Irregulars, Sherlock Holmes' beginnings in radio, and the Conan Doyle family events at the time.  This isn't just a Conan Doyle biography or a retrospective of Holmes in entertainment or a history of us fans of the Great Detective.  It's all that and more.  Every Sherlockian should own this book.

***************************************************

On a different note, I spent Saturday travelling across the Mississippi River from my home in Illinois to visit a handful of St. Louis bookstores in hopes of getting them to carry The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street.  Time will tell if my sojourn will pay off financially, but it totally paid off in a different way.

One of the bookstores I visited was The Book House.  Now, I usually only shop at my local independent, Afterwords Books in Edwardsville (It's great, you should totally check it out!), but The Book House is a great used bookstore.  Sliding ladders, stacks of books in front of shelves of books, and a whole section dedicated to just Sherlock Holmes!  I was treated to discussions with two employees there, one of whom was reading A Study in Scarlet for the first time.  I felt obliged to warn him about the jarring sensation he'll feel when he gets to the Mormon part.


So often in life we tread the same path, no matter how good of a path it might be.  While Afterwords will always be MY bookstore, The Book House has earned itself the designation of a store worth visiting, also.  If I hadn't made it a point to search out different bookstores, I never would've known about this delightful place.  It makes me wonder, as Sherlockians, what are we missing out there because we want to keep treading the same path?