Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

"Who, then, is Porlock?"

“Who, then, is Porlock?” Watson asks in the marvelous opening scene of The Valley of Fear.

Holmes responds: “Porlock, Watson, is a nom-de-plume, a mere identification mark; but behind it lies a shifty and evasive personality.”

Shifty, indeed! The name keeps coming back. 

According to the official list of Baker Street Journal editors, Fred Porlock fulfilled that role during 1984. In reality, someone who would know told me that several individuals hid behind that name. I am the BSJ’s tenth “editor of record.”  

Now a new Porlock has emerged, the author of a book called The Adventure of the Murder on the Calais Coach. It’s a mashup of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot (specifically the book best known as Murder on the Orient Express), printed in a limited-edition of 1000 hardback copies by UK-based Crystal Peake Publisher, and sent free to Sherlockians far and wide. The dedication page gives few clues as to who is hiding behind the name. The author says:

I hope, but in no way guarantee, that you enjoy this work and also that I have honoured and done justice to the two national treasures who created the original works on which this pastiche is based; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dame Agatha Christie.

My intention was only ever to build upon rather than contradict the Canons.

Written in London during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown of 2020 and dedicated to the memory of the millions of  souls lost.   


And what of the original Porlock? My friend Robert Sharfman, in a so-far-unpublished essay on “Moriarty – Saint or Sinner?”, writes:

This name first appearing in The Valley of Fear has been examined by no less than Ronald Knox, David Talbott Cox, Noah Andre Trudeau, Paul Smedegaard, Thomas Andred, Christopher F. Baum, Paul Zens, Alan Olding, and Donald Alan Webster without a solid bit of fact to support any conclusion that this Porlock was Professor Moriarty, and having guesses ranging from the Professor and his brother James to Colonel Moran (by  Smedegaard)—all summarized by Leslie Klinger in The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes.

Sharfman concludes that, contra Holmes, Porlock is in fact Porlock, not a nom-de-plume. That seems dubious to me, but we can never really know.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

An Almanac Not Just for the Shelves

 When is an almanac not just an almanac? When it’s so much more.

 The 2023 Baker Street Almanac: An Annual Capsule of a Timeless Past and Future arrived at my house recently, and it is spectacular. Edited by Ross E. Davies, Jayantika Ganguly, Ira Brad Matetsky, and Monica Schmidt, it has what we have come to expect—a comprehensive account of worldwide Sherlockian activities the year before.

But beyond that, the editors give us 2022 updates on Sherlock Holmes in the comics, music and Sherlock Holmes, the Doings of Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and the law, and the return of in-person conferences—plus an ongoing inventory of Denny Dobry’s recreation of the sitting room at 221B, the Baker Street Irregulars Trust newsletter, and fun Sherlockian food recipes.

 As in past editions of the Almanac, there is a canonical story annotated by many (20!) hands—this time, “The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk.”

And then there is the “after-dinner mint” to that main course: Ross Davies’s commentary and annotation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s 500-word “How Watson Learned the Trick,” wonderfully illustrated by Madeline Quiñones in the book and in accompanying post cards. My copy of the almanac also came with a toothbrush inscribed with the name of the dentist Sherlock Holmes mentions in the mini-story.

Most almanacs sit on the shelves until needed, as Holmes picked Whitaker’s Almanac off of his desk in The Valley of Fear. This almanac is to be read and enjoyed. It's available from the publisher, The Green Bag, at www.greenbag.org. 

Breakfast on Baker Street -- by Madeline Quinones

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

A Fun Romp with Holmes and Adler

Holmes, Watson, Tesla, and Adler - photo by Sean Carter Photography

Don’t tell anybody, but I’m not a fan of Irene Adler – Sherlock Holmes romances. I take Watson at his word that it was “not that he felt any emotion akin to love” for her. But David MacGregor’s trio of Holmes-Adler plays is an exception because they put us on the inside of an inside joke.

The setup of Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Elusive Ear, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Fallen Soufflé, and Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Ghost Machine is that 221B Baker Street has become a sort of “Three’s Company” situation with Adler living there under the name “Mrs. Hudson.”

I recently caught up with the script of the third play, Ghost Machine, which won MacGregor 2023 Doylean Honors in the “Visual and Performing Arts” category from the Arthur Conan Doyle Society, presented at the Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan during Baker Street Irregulars Weekend.

Although reading a reading a play is only half as good as seeing it—at best—this tale of Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Moriarty’s daughter is a delightful romp even on the printed page. Tesla has invented a death ray, Edison has invented a machine for communicating with the dead, and both have been stolen. Only You Know Who can find them.

Along the way with get dialog with a wink, such as:

HOLMES: Everyone fakes their own death at some point.

WATSON: I’m not sure that’s entirely true.

Each of the three plays premiered at the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea, MI, each features the same four fictional characters and two historical characters, and each has also been adapted into novels from MX Publishing. Reading the third play made me want to read the first two. Even more, it made me want to see it performed.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Down the Rabbit Holes with Sherlock Holmes

Going down rabbit holes can be fun, and Ted and Gail Stetson are masters at it.

In Hidden Threads in Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1, they explore what they contend are concealed references by Arthur Conan Doyle to topics that seem far from the story at hand in the first 24 short stories of the Canon.

Mentions of weather in “The Boscombe Valley Mystery,” where the villain is named Turner, set them off on the paintings of J.W.W. Turner, for example. “The Gloria Scot” leads to riffs on the transportation of criminals, arsenic, sports, and the Chinese game GO. In “The Final Problem,” the Stetsons find echoes of Dante’s Inferno as well as Descartes, Newton, Pascal, Erasmus, and Bruno. “The Crooked Man” leads them to Edgar Allen Poe.

But my favorite parts of the book involve literary criticism. Their analysis of the “The Speckled Band” as a melodrama is brilliant! The exploration of the comic opera elements of “The Reigate Squire” is as convincing as it is surprising.

Beneath an attractive but bland cover lies a fascinating book, whether or not you buy the assertion that the hidden threads really exist.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

ACD in the Queen City

The Cincinnati Art Museum, visited by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1894 

Arthur Conan Doyle first visited what he later called “the great city of Cincinnati,” my hometown (and also called "the Queen City"), in October 1894 as part of a U.S. tour during the Great Hiatus. Christopher Redman’s Welcome to America, Mr. Sherlock Holmes has a lot about that. Now comes the opportunity to read extensive contemporary accounts.

Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle in the Newspapers, Volume 6, edited by Mattias Boström and Marc Alberstat, is entirely devoted to that one month. (The first volume in the series from Wessex Press, by contrast, covered five years.) The book includes stories from The Cincinnati Post (where I worked for almost 24 years until 1997), The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Cincinnati Commercial Gazette, and The Cincinnati Tribune. Only the Enquirer still exists.

The news accounts of ACD’s lecture at the Odd Fellows Temple (built in 1891 and demolished just 51 years later) and a joint interview with the local press are quite similar. After all, they were all recording the same event. But one newspaper, the Tribune, reported on what else “Dr. Doyle” (as it consistently called him) did in Cincinnati. Taking a streetcar, he visited:

  • Eden Park, with a view of the Ohio River and the Kentucky Hills which he “pronounced the finest he has seen in America, and was loath to leave when it was time to take the car again.”
  • The Cincinnati Art Museum, “the subject of much admiring comment on his part, and he stated that he had frequently read of the building and was glad to see it.”
  • The Cincinnati Zoological & Botanical Garden, AKA Cincinnati Zoo, “of which he had often heard” and “was much pleased.”
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe’s former home. (Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin and was the sister of Henry Ward Beecher, whose unframed portrait was on top of Dr. Watson’s books.)
  • The Cincinnati neighborhoods of Walnut Hills, Avondale, and Clifton, seeing which caused ACD to conclude “that the average American enjoys more comfort in every way than can the average Englishman, that there was a much greater contrast between the rich and poor there than here.”

All of these places still exist, and the Tankerville Club of Cincinnati plans to sponsor a field trip this summer—in cooperation with the Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis and the Agra Treasurers of Dayton—that will let us walk in the footsteps of Dr. Doyle.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

A Canine Sherlock and His Feline Friend

For some Sherlockians, the gateway drug to the Master wasn’t the actors Basil, Brett, or Benedict, but a mouse named Basil—either in book form or Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective. The Sherlock Bones and Dr. Catson series by Tim Collins could serve the same function for a new generation of young readers.

I caught up this delightful series with the second book, Sherlock Bones and the Curse of the Pharaoh’s Mask, published by UK-based Buster Books. The pharaoh in question is Tutancatmun, who is—like Dr. Jane Catson—a feline. (You can see where this is going.) All the other characters are animals, including (spoiler alert) Moriratty.

There’s a genuine mystery here (who stole the pharaoh’s mask?), and lots of amiable humor (some of it poo-based), but more than: The book contains 25 puzzles that will stretch the young reader’s ability to not only see but observe.

Most of these puzzles require close study of the illustrations, which are part of the charm of the book. (“Study the passengers’ passport photos for two minutes, then turn the page to see how much you can remember.”) My favorite involves process of elimination to match characters with their watches. (“Florence, Walter, and Laila all have numbers on their watches . . . Florence’s watch has a much thinner strap than Walter’s . . . Laila has a pocket watch.”)

Although middle-grade students can read this book by themselves, there is plenty of enjoyable word play and Easter eggs for parents who read it to younger readers and have them tackle the puzzles.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Rathbone Led This Mystery Writer to Holmes


Mystery writer Terence Faherty will talk about “The Top Ten Reasons to Love the Universal Sherlock Holmes Series” at the Holmes, Doyle, & Friends conference in Dayton, OH, on March 25. Let’s interrogate him. 

How and when did you first meet Sherlock Holmes?

The earliest “meeting” with Sherlock Holmes that I can date occurred when I was nine years old, that is, in late 1963 or early 1964. I was living in New Jersey at the time, and one of the New York television stations was showing a week of the Rathbone/Bruce films on its afternoon movie program. By Tuesday, I was hooked. Sometime after that, I borrowed a collection of the Conan Doyle stories from the library and got hooked on those, despite being taken aback when the author of the volume’s introduction called the Watson of the movies a “silly ass.”  Not only was I offended by what I then considered immoderate language, I was shocked that anyone would object to the casting of Nigel Bruce.

How and when did you become a Sherlockian?

I officially joined the ranks of Sherlockians when I was invited to become a charter member of the 140 Varieties of Tobacco Ash in 1998. The 140 Varieties is a small scion founded by three Baker Street Irregulars—Steven Doyle, Mark Gagen, and Donald Curtis. That trio and the other 140 members were very welcoming and tolerant of this Rathbonian, especially Michael Whalen, then head of the BSI. Michael, who liked my Owen Keane books, was a good friend to many mystery writers.

What effect has Sherlock Holmes (print and film) had on your own writing career—both your “first draft” parodies and your two mystery series?

Holmes led me to detective fiction, which became a lifelong passion of mine. Though I toyed with writing literary fiction in college, when I got serious about writing afterward, I returned to my first love, the mystery. My first protagonist, Owen Keane, is no Great Detective, but he shares my love of Holmes and manages to work a Sherlockian allusion into almost every book. Scott Elliott, my Hollywood private eye, owes more to Raymond Chandler than Conan Doyle and he’s almost as fallible as Keane. I didn’t try my hand at a Great Detective protagonist until I started my Holmes parodies for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in 2013. The parodies purport to be the rediscovered first drafts of Watson’s famous tales. I actually write the series for Sherlockians, credentialed and not, since a familiarity with the real stories makes a good deal of the humor work.

What has it meant to you to be part of the Sherlockian community?

I’m not by nature a joiner, so becoming part of the Sherlockian community, even in a small way, has gotten me out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing. And the connections I’ve made have been a good counterbalance to the writing life, which can be very solidary. Of course, being around people who know who Basil Rathbone was is a definite plus.

To what Sherlockian groups do you belong?

I belong to the 140 Varieties of Tobacco Ash, as I noted above, and the Baker Street Irregulars. And I’m occasionally able to attend a meeting of the Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis, an old (and illustrious) scion. I’ve been published in one of their Casebooks, I’m proud to say.

Besides Holmes, Doyle, & Friends, are any other Sherlockian events are on your calendar this year?

I attended the BSI’s annual dinner this past January. It’s always well run and entertaining, and this year’s was especially so. And I plan to attend the 140 Varieties’ 25th anniversary dinner (!) later this year. The 140 dinner is always very nice, once one gets through the clouds of cigar smoke.

What non-Holmes film of Basil Rathbone’s should Sherlockians discover (or rediscover)?

If I Were King, Paramount, 1938. It contains one of Basil’s two Academy-Award-nominated performances and the one for which he should have taken home the statuette. Perhaps coincidentally, 1938 was his last pre-Holmes year.

Although Holmes, Doyle, & Friends Seven, March 24-25, 2023, is closed out for vendors, participants can still register here.


Thursday, March 2, 2023

Adventures in Adaptation: Holmes by Text

Ann Kimbrough, one of the speakers at the Holmes, Doyle, & Friends conference in Dayton, OH, on March 25 (with a reception the previous evening), has produced three Sherlock Holmes books that . . . well, let’s let her explain:

You adapted three Holmes short stories for middle-schoolers in a unique way. Describe your books.

The graphic novels are a mash-up of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic short stories and a modern retelling with four teenagers helping solve the mystery. Through some kind of digital mix-up, past and present align and are able to communicate in the strangest way—by text message! Cheese, Bizzy, Kyndra, and Jett end up in a group chat with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. They are welcomed as a new group of Irregulars to help solve the cases.

What gave you the idea to do that?

It was during lockdown and I heard Doyle’s work was in public domain. Having never read the original stories, I thought it was high time that I did. I first found The Adventure of Devil’s Foot and wanted to see if I could create something that would bring kids to the material, with the goal of teaching kids to think like Sherlock Holmes. Of course, reading isn’t always something that interests kids, so I decided to put it in a format that they liked—text messages. I experimented with that layout, and really liked the outcome.

How did you pick which stories to adapt, and why them rather better-known stories often used in middle school, such as “The Red-Headed League” or “The Speckled Band”?

I’m actually glad to hear that I haven’t picked well-known stories. I’d like to say that was a conscious choice, but it’s because I’m new to the Sherlockian world. I am trying to educate myself in that area, but I’ll continue to mix it up. I plan to get to all the ones that can be adapted for kids. Obviously, there are a few that won’t work because the topics are a bit too adult. So far,  I’ve used The Adventure of Devils Foot, which is a classic mysterious death story; The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plan, about a spy and a secret submarine; and The Adventure of Silver Blaze, about a missing race horse. Those all seemed fun for readers age 10 to 14.

What was the biggest challenge?

Frankly, adapting any writer’s work would give me pause, but someone like Doyle makes it extra challenging. He is a master and I respect his writing and his success. I want to do right by him and his fans. Thing is, short stories are a unique form of writing. Going in, I knew that would require some editing and changes to adapt it into a graphic novel. Also, I’d have to make changes for the younger audience. As you know, some of Sherlock’s habits don’t translate well. So, I set some rules to follow, the main one being to honor the original text as much as possible.

The image of Holmes is rather unusual—he has a beard! How did that happen?

Yes, the Sherlock avatar has a little bit of beard. Perhaps he’s just going through a stage? The thing with avatars is how little is used to create the image. No eyes, no mouth. It relies on hats, hair, glasses, and things like that. If the book wasn’t for kids, I’d have given him a pipe instead of a little bit of beard, to define the lower part of the face. But I didn’t want to promote smoking. The top hat, however, really said Sherlock to me, so I went with it, not realizing longtime fans would have an issue with a beard.

How and when did you first meet Sherlock Holmes?

Sherlock Holmes just seems to have always been there in my realm of knowledge. I can’t pick a moment. I’m sure I knew of the character long before I saw a movie or TV show. I became a huge fan due to Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

Do you consider yourself a Sherlockian?

I consider myself a very green Sherlockian, but there’s no going back now!

Are you involved in any organized Sherlockian activities or groups?

My Sherlockian journey has just started, but there is not a local group in my city. Thanks to Zoom, I’ve been welcomed by the Shaka Sherlockians and the Nashville Scholars.

What question haven’t I asked you that you would like to answer?

Thanks to writing these books, I’ve found a whole world that I didn’t know existed. It’s a welcoming and engaging community! I’m honored to be a part of it and have started a blog/podcast to document my journey, as well as promote all things Sherlockian that I find along the way. If anyone wants to check it out, the website is https://www.travelswithsherlock.com.

Although Holmes, Doyle, & Friends Seven, March 24-25, 2023, is closed out for vendors, participants can still register here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Play's the Thing for This Sherlockian

Playwrite David MacGregor on the set

Playwright and screenwriter David MacGregor will talk about “So You Want to Write a Sherlock Holmes Play” at the Holmes, Doyle, & Friends conference in Dayton, OH, on March 25.  David wanted to and he did it—several times. His “Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Ghost Machine” won an ACD Society award for excellence in the “Performing and Visual Arts” category. That prompts some questions:    

How and when did you first meet Sherlock Holmes?

You know, I'm not really sure. Possibly seeing one of Basil Rathbone's films on late-night TV, or perhaps picking up The Complete Sherlock Holmes at bag-day at a book sale (where a grocery bag could be purchased for $1 and then filled with as many books as you wished). My brother and I used to go to these sales, cram 50-60 books into a bag, then go home and read the first paragraph out loud to one another. Upon this highly rigorous scientific basis, we decided that H.G. Wells was definitely worth reading. John Updike? Not so much. The Sherlock Holmes stories were immediately put in the “to be read” stack.

How and when did you become a Sherlockian?

Hmm…well, it was a gradual process. After graduating from college, I thought it would be fun to try and write a short mystery or two and see if I could get them published. To my surprise, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine published my Sherlockian pastiche, “The Adventure of the Mysterious Benefactor.” Upon seeing Jeremy Brett's version of Holmes in the Granada series, I wrote to him to express my admiration for his portrayal, and he was kind of enough to send back an autographed photo. For some reason, I then decided to get a master’s degree in English, and when the university insisted that I had to write a thesis, I chose Sherlock Holmes as my topic.

Fast forward a few years and I thought it would be interesting to write a Sherlock Holmes play, and in 2018, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Elusive Ear premiered at The Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, MI. As I was wrapped up in researching and writing the play, I decided to attend a meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit. Quickly determining that they were a rather strange and troubled group of individuals, I immediately joined their ranks, then subsequently became a member of the Ribston-Pippins as well. I like people who are passionate about things they like and the Sherlockian community is home to any number of fascinating and talented people.

What’s your background of writing plays and movies?

When I was a student at Michigan State University, I took a screenwriting class with Jim Cash (of Top Gun and Turner & Hooch fame), and a filmmaking class with Mohammad Ali Issari, former official filmmaker to the Shah of Iran. Jim Cash was an absolutely lovely fellow who took the whole class to his house. Mohammad Ali Issari was just a wee bit paranoid, chain-smoking and answering any question with “Why do you want to know that?”

Once I got out of college, I had an assortment of fascinating jobs—for example, watching TV to log in when Thunderbird Wine commercials aired, jackhammering holes into the sides of catch basins, and doing various computer-related jobs for companies at three in the morning.

Somewhere in there, I sent in a short play to a one-act festival, which was accepted, and then they asked me if I would like to direct my play. After learning that there was time to run across the street to drink White Russians with the cast between plays, I was hooked.

I gradually began writing full-length plays and screenplays, and had various scripts produced, optioned, etc. I sent in a screenplay to the Nicholl Fellowship, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and was subsequently invited out to Los Angeles to schmooze, network, and interface. On the play front, I sent a play to The Purple Rose Theatre (which was founded by the actor Jeff Daniels in 1991), and on the basis of that play, Mr. Daniels was kind enough to tell me he wanted to produce my next five plays.

I have now had plays produced everywhere from New York to Tasmania, with one of my full-length plays, Vino Veritas, being adapted into a feature film.

I am currently working on a new play, and my screenplay In the Land of Fire and Ice has been optioned, with Emmy-winner and Oscar-nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo attached as the lead.

And how and when did your interest in Holmes and the theater come together?

I love the character of Sherlock Holmes and the fact that Holmes is a hero not interested in money, power, or bloodshed, but in making the world a better place, and being willing to help anyone, regardless of their status or wealth. For reasons that elude me now, the idea of Vincent van Gogh visiting Holmes with the hope of recovering his recently severed ear struck my fancy, and I embarked on a play that included mystery, romance, action, and comedy. I also wanted a Sherlock Holmes story with stronger roles for female characters, so I included Irene Adler as Holmes’s love interest, and the daughter of Professor Moriarty as the pathologically evil (yet incredibly charming) antagonist.

And that was supposed to be that. But Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Elusive Ear proved so popular that the Purple Rose asked me to write a second play, which resulted in Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Fallen Soufflé premiering in 2019. That proved to be the second-highest grossing play in the history of the theatre, so I was asked to write a third play, which was Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Ghost Machine, which premiered in 2022.

Again, I thought I was finished, but on Opening Night of the show, the set designer informed me that “we're saving the set.” Why, exactly? I'm not sure. Maybe they plan on doing a revival down the road, or maybe they’re hoping I write a fourth Sherlock play.

All three plays have been published by Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW), and during the Covid-19 interregnum, which shut theatres down, I adapted all the Holmes plays into novels, which were published in 2021. (Two of the novels are currently being translated into Italian for publication later this year). As it turned out, I am highly adept at social isolation (kind of a savant, really), and during Covid I also completed a two-volume nonfiction book, Sherlock Holmes: The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which was also published in 2021.

What recent Sherlockian events and conferences have you taken part in?

In 2022, I gave a talk on “Three and a Half Definitive Sherlock Holmeses: The Evolution of Popular Culture’s Greatest Hero” as part of DePaul University's Pop Culture Conference; made a day trip down to the Lilly Library at Indiana University to listen to Glen Miranker’s presentation at “Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects;” and gave a presentation on “Sherlock Holmes: The Hero with a Thousand Faces” at Schoolcraft College (Livonia, MI). In 2023, the Arthur Conan Doyle Society very kindly invited me to accept an award for Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Ghost Machine at The Mysterious Bookshop in New York. Since this was during the week of Baker Street Irregular festivities, the very thoughtful and Red Bull-fueled Monica Schmidt suggested a number of BSI functions, which I was happy to attend.

What has it meant to you to be part of the far-flung Sherlockian community?

Extremely interesting and also extremely inspiring. Highlights?

  • Having the esteemed Roger Johnson graciously write the foreword to Sherlock Holmes: The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
  • Corresponding with the legendary Peter Blau for years, and then finally meeting him in person last month.
  • Meeting David Stuart Davies at Gillette to Brett V.
  • Autographing a copy of one of my plays for Leslie Klinger at The Mysterious Bookshop.
  • Being a guest on the I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere podcast not once, but twice.
  • Happily sending autographed play programs around the country to various Sherlockians who requested them.

I should note that as a result of all of the above, I will be the guest host on the long-running The Projection Booth podcast for the month of April, with a different Sherlock Holmes film from the 1970s being discussed each week: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’s Smarter Brother, The Seven-Per-Cent-Solution, and Murder by Decree. As with my appearances on the I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere podcast, I will make every effort to be well-rested and well-caffeinated, in the hope of sounding reasonably coherent.

You can still register here to hear David and seven other speakers at Holmes, Doyle, & Friends. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

A Magician Reads Sherlock Holmes

Magic Marc!

Marc Lehmann is a professional magician who has performed one of the greatest tricks of all—making a career out of his passion. He will be speaking (or is that performing?) at the Holmes, Doyle, & Friends conference in Dayton on March 25. Let’s see if we can learn some of his secrets.    

How and when did you first meet Sherlock Holmes?

In 1968, my junior year in high school, we were assigned a book report and my literature teacher selected The Hound of the Baskervilles. I became totally engrossed in the book and was eager to dive into the next Sherlock Holmes story that I could find. Shortly thereafter I discovered the Basil Rathbone films and that sealed my fate with Sherlock Holmes. (By the way, I got an A on the book report!)

How and when did you become a Sherlockian?

In the early 1990s, the Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis sponsored a Sherlock Holmes symposium in downtown Indy. At this time, I wasn’t even aware that a Sherlock Holmes organization existed. Michael Cox, one of the creators of the Granada series, was the featured speaker. Being an admirer of Jeremy Brett, I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to attend the symposium. However, I was just getting started with my magic career and any thoughts of joining a scion society had to be delayed. Fast forward to October 2013 and I had the good fortune of meeting Steve Doyle, Vincent Wright, and Meredith Granger. All three of these gentlemen were very welcoming and encouraged me to join the Illustrious Clients. I did, and that is when I felt that I “officially” became a Sherlockian!

What is the primary way that you engage with Sherlock Holmes (i.e., collecting, films, chronology, pastiches, scholarship, etc.)?

Reading the canon and watching vintage Holmes movies are my primary interests. Also, attending the Clients meetings and learning from true scholars is very beneficial to furthering my love and understanding of Sherlock Holmes.

Tell us about your career in magic.

As a child, I had absolutely no interest in magic—none whatsoever! However, in 1975 my wife, Susie, and I built a home in a young neighborhood with a lot of children, and I thought it would be a lot of fun doing magic for the kids in the neighborhood. The next thing I knew I was getting calls from schools, churches, business, and various organizations and they were willing to pay me to do magic shows! After a few years, I increased my corporate work and began performing close-up/strolling magic at our local Pizza Hut where I remained for 27 years! Eventually, I ended up with five Pizza Huts, Max & Erma’s restaurant (22 years), a pub/steak house named Arch Rivals (because of Purdue and IU) and a magic-themed restaurant in Carmel, IN known as Illusions. Now that it’s 2023 I am going to cut back a little—you might say semi-retired. Still enjoying my performances, mind you, just slowing down a bit.

My book of Sebastian McCabe mystery novellas, Murderers’ Row, is dedicated to seven conjurors, including you. Why are so many Sherlockians magicians—or is it that a lot of magicians are Sherlockians?

In 1976, I joined a magic club in Lafayette, IN. One of the first persons I met, and we soon became fast friends, was Mark Brandyberry. A marvelous magician and, I was soon to discover, an avid fan of Sherlock Holmes. (For my birthday in 1980 he bought me The Complete Sherlock Holmes). I found it amusing that Mark, like myself, was both a magician and a Sherlockian. Over the years, I have known several magicians who expressed an interest in the Master, and I never understood the connection. Perhaps it all started with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his association with Houdini! I am such a fan of your McCabe/Cody mysteries. Maybe we should ask Mac why the fascination between Sherlock Holmes and magicians!

What has it meant to you to be part of the Sherlockian community?

I speak not only for myself, but also for my wife, Susie, when I say that joining the Illustrious Clients has been one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. Besides the immeasurable amount of knowledge that we have acquire, pertaining to the Grand Game, the friendship, generosity, and comradery is beyond description. From our very first meeting we have been made to feel welcome by every single member of the Clients.

Did your magic career drive your wife and kids crazy?

YES! (I won’t elaborate!)

Although Holmes, Doyle, & Friends Seven, March 24-25, 2023, is closed out for vendors, participants can still register here.