Here’s another great reason to attend the Holmes, Doyle, & Friends conference in Dayton next month: Maureen Francis Mascha, whom I had the good fortune to meet recently at a meeting of the Torists International in Chicago. She’s one of the speakers at HD&F.
Maureen held corporate positions in internal audit, rising to Manager of International Audit for a firm, before leaving that world to earn a Ph.D. She now teaches Forensic Accounting Investigation, Data Analysis, and Advanced Auditing at the graduate level for a regional public institution. In that role, she developed a project analyzing potential causes for the homicide trends in Chicago for her Data Analysis class. The project earned a National Award for case excellence from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
I asked her a few questions about her Sherlockian journey:
When and how and when did you first meet Sherlock Holmes?
I first “met” him in my freshman year of high school. We read “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.” I was immediately hooked! I became further enraptured watching the reruns of the Sherlock Holmes series from the late ’30s and ‘40s starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.
How and when did you become a Sherlockian?
I continued my reading of the Canon through high school and college, purchasing the full two volumes of stories and the novels. I saw all contemporary movies regarding Holmes (such as the “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution”) and any other TV specials or movies concerning Holmes. Note that this was prior to the Granada Series with Jeremy Brett and the BBC series, so “the pickings were slim.” When the Granada series debuted, I became addicted! I have watched each countless times and have the whole set on VHS AND DVD! I have also indulged in the Robert Downing Jr. movies and the BBC series. There can never be enough of Holmes!
Fortunately, the internet became a vehicle for widespread Holmesian distribution—and I followed along. When I worked in “corporate,” I had little time for extra activities, but after my Ph.D. program I enjoyed more “me time” and joined several scion societies. And I also was able to peruse the internet for applicable Holmesian literature, including the volumes on Holmes written by William S. Baring-Gould.
Your topic for the Dayton conference is “Women in the Canon.” Has this been a fascination of yours as you read the Canon over the years?
YES! As a woman, I am particularly interested in the portrayal of women during the latter part of the Victorian era, an era not known for considering women as a man’s equal. I was especially struck by the story of “A Scandal in Bohemia,” where Irene Adler bests Holmes only to have him become her staunch admirer. Upon further reflection, as I re-read the Canon, I realized the ACD penned stories with women as victims, perpetrators, accomplices, and innocent participants. Portraying women as “perps,” and not always victims, is an angle I would not have expected from a Victorian writer, especially when the crimes were premeditated and not “circumstantial.”
The more I read about women in the Canon and the more research I performed, convinced me that such a topic was ripe for further investigation, and I was amazed that the topic of women and how they are portrayed is the subject of world-wide interest, including being the topic of dissertations! What I find even more compelling is that the women who penned these tomes often hailed from non-western locales, including a few in the Muslim world.
Tell us a little about your auditing and academic career – especially how it has been affected by Sherlock Holmes.
As you can detect from my bio, I have had “two lives”: one in corporate America and one in academia. In my former role, I traveled the globe, auditing sales offices, divisions, manufacturing facilities, you name it. I began as an auditor and rose to management. I employed—although I did not fully appreciate it at the time—some of Holmes’s finest methods, not the least of which was observation and attention to detail. For example, I detected that the timecards in one foreign locale had been “prepunched” in and out—even though the number of timecards did not match the number of employees present and the time I observed this was midday, not “quitting” time. Needless to say, such observations led to bigger issues involving fraud.
In my second life, I stress data analysis as a fraud indicator to my students, along with observation and logic. I constantly remind my students of the Holmesian axion: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” This is so often true in the case studies we examine as part of the coursework.
To what Sherlockian groups do you belong?
I belong to “The Torists International,” “The Criterion Bar,” “The Highwood Associates,” and other on-line groups, ad hoc.
What has it meant to you to be part of the Sherlockian community?
In a word: everything. It has afforded me the opportunity to interact and discuss intelligently a topic I love AND to engage in research (that I also love) which contributes to people’s understanding and appreciation of Holmes and ACD.
What else is up your Sherlockian sleeve?
I hope to perform more research on women in the Canon in addition to analysis concerning the locales and class structures described in the Canon.
Register for Holmes, Doyle, & Friends at: http://www.agratreasurers.net/holmes--doyle----friends--2022.html