Welcome to the final Friday Links post of 2012! Before Father Time carves another notch in his belt (of Time) I’ll have a Fall 2012 Sherlockian scion roundup, an Always1895.net best of 2012 post and a few odds and ends that I never got around to posting in 2012. I hope to start 2013 off with a Starrettian bang via Vincent Starrett Week 2013 (which will orbit January 5, the date of VS’s death). Also, there will be a plethora of posts pertaining to BSI Weekend 2013 (before, during and after). I hope everyone had a relaxing ‘holiday season’ and thanks for reading!
Bake Street Blog’s Mr Scott Monty with an eye toward the rapidly approaching BSI Weekend 2013 (!!!) provides “a series of tips for the veteran attendees and the newbies alike.” Everything from what to pack (ie. pack lite so you have plenty of room in your suitcase to fill with newly acquired books) to items to facilitate meeting others (business cards); from comportment suggestions (avoid ‘Dutch courage’ when scheduled to speak) to attire (comfortable shoes); as well as practical advice on time, money and travel management. A “handy downloadable and printable guide for the weekend” is available along with various online resources (check out this neat list of Sherlockians on Twitter) plus a reminder that “#BSIWeekend” is the official Twitter hash-tag. At the very least, make sure to bookmark Mr Monty’s Bake Street Blog BSI Weekend suggestions post for perusal throughout the weekend and as an added defense against dead phone batteries and poor reception, it doesn’t hurt to print out (to physical paper) a schedule highlighting the events you plan on attending, a decent map of Manhattan and the subway and a list of essential phone numbers (friends and hated rivals) you would want to have access to if your phone was lost. Personally, I plan on live tweeting from the BSI Weekend as much as humanly possible, so please follow me at @always1895.
[I hope to see many of you in just under two weeks time!]
Digression: Links Re: “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”:
Dan Andriacco extends the (obligatory) compliments of the season (on Boxing Day) to his readers and disputes the oft repeated notion, as expressed by Christopher Morley, that “The Blue Carbuncle” is a Christmas story without slush: “In fact, the phrase [has] so often been repeated that hardly anybody seems to have noticed that it is patently untrue. In reality, there is plenty of slush in “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”.” Pointing out both Mr Henry Baker’s attempt at winning back the affections of his wife by presenting her with a fine goose procured from his participation in the Goose Club (as hosted by the kindly Mr Windigate, proprietor of the Alpha Inn) as well as Holmes’ remarkable decision allowing the despicable Mr Ryder to avoid punishment for his role in the theft of the Blue Carbuncle, Mr Andriacco concludes “[i]f that’s not slush, I don’t know what is!” What do you think?
[Christopher Morley’s intro to Christmas Story Without Slush.]
Meiringens posted this two-panel scene from Peter Cushing’s adaptation of “The Blue Carbuncle” which, though non-canonical, is one of the more touching scenes throughout the 1968 BBC Sherlock Holmes series: Watson (Nigel Stock) presents Holmes with a gift of tobacco while stopping by to wish Holmes the compliments of the season just prior to the main events of BLUE. As much as I love Jeremy Brett in Granada’s version of BLUE, the Cushing adaptation runs a close second and I highly recommend back-to-back viewings - if you don’t have access to Cushing’s version, you can watch the entire episode in parts on YouTube (Part 1 of Cushing’s BLUE).
[Click the above image for a larger version of a Xmas scene with just a little bit of slush.]
Markings in “Christmas Day Post -The Blue Carbuncle - (2) “A Gem of a Short Story” treats his readers to his proprietary blend of Sherlockian textual analysis, humorous digressions, links to video clips and relevant images and all around Holmesian enthusiasm of a kind that only a retired English teacher can muster. Compliments, etc. to Mr Ray Wilcockson on his always entertainingly erudite Markings blog, which has been a blast to read in 2012 - and is sure not to disappoint in 2013!
[Intro to Peter Cushing’s BLUE (1968) for the BBC.]
Utah Theater Bloggers brought our attention to a “2012 installment of Radio Hour, entitled “Sherlock Holmes and the Blue Carbuncle”, played one night only on December 18, 2012. However, you can listen to the radio play at KUER’s web site.” I’m not sure how many different audio versions of BLUE I have, but this multi-person rendition is a welcome addition to the ‘Blue Carbuncle Audio Club’.
[Click the above image to listen to a brand new adaptation of “The Blue Carbuncle” from Radio West KUER aired originally on Dec 18, 2012.]
Lyndsay Faye posted a video of her recent performance of a very special reading of “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” (December 2012) at Singularity & Co. Bookshop in Brooklyn, NY as part of the I, Reader series. Ms Faye tackles the Xmas story sans slush with accents a’blazing making BLUE as fresh and relevant as ever.
Sherlock Peoria takes a break from his valiant, 24-7 assault on CBS’s Elementary and reflects on “the compliments of the season” qua “sonic screwdriver of holiday wishes”; that is, the “all-purpose Xmas greeting” particular to our little Sherlockian world.
Strictly Sherlock - a blog written by Professor Tracy Revels - shares her recent ‘Blue Carbuncle Moment’ where, after catching a student cheating, she could “have brought down the wrath of the academy. But this student pulled a James Ryder, complete with weeping and wringing of hands. I couldn’t bring myself to extract the big penalty and instead let the young person off with a lower grade and a stern warning.” Read Prof Revels entire article to find out her reasoning behind the decision and how one could do worse in using Sherlock Holmes as a guide to life.
/End Digression: Links Re: “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”
Fear Net published a review of Titan Book’s re-release (in their ‘Further Adventures of’ series) of the 1978 title Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula by Loren D Estleman. Assuaging any fears that this pastiche is a poor attempt at merging the world of the great detective with that of Stoker’s Dracula, we are assured that Estleman’s tale is “a rousing adventure story that does both Bram Stoker and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle proud. Estleman’s book chronicles Count Dracula’s time in London, beginning at the point where a mysterious schooner arrives in Whitby Harbour in the midst of some decidedly unnerving weather.”
[Find out what happens when the Great Detective meets the Prince of Darkness.]
BookCourt is hosting a reading by Maria Konnikova from her about-to-be-released Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes (Viking, 2013). The reading is happening at Brooklyn bookstore BookCourt on Monday, January 7, 2013. For more information check out this Facebook event page; to see if Ms Konnikova will be giving a reading near you, check out her Events page at her website www.mariakonnikova.com. I just started reading Mastermind and am enjoying the unique and thoroughly engaging synthesis of information running the spectrum from Sherlockianology to Cognitive Psychology (my major in college).
[The author Ms Konnikova along with a small shot of the cover of Mastermind.]
Huff Post Books employed the talented Ms Maria Konnikova - whose soon to be published Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes (Viking, 2013) will hopefully be on everyone’s to-read list - to compose a list of “10 Mysteries Worthy of Sherlock Holmes’s Time” - ten real-life mysteries that is. Examples include purely vicious cases such as “The case of the Tylenol murders” and ”The disappearance of Suzanne Jovin” as well intellectual-historical cases such as “The mystery of the Aleppo Codex” and “The case of the Somerton Man”. As always, Ms Konnikova delivers up a perfect blend of fact and Sherlockian-theorizing that is great fun.
Baker Street Babes posted Episode 35 “Watson & Holmes” (hosted by Babes Lyndsay, Curly, & Amy) which features two of the creators behind recently released comic Watson & Holmes, which is “a modern urban take on the tales of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Re-envisioning Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson as African Americans and taking place in New York City’s famous Harlem district, the stories can go in fresh and new directions never traveled before.” You may recall I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere (Ep. 44) producing a similar show though the Babe’s tackle it from a fresh direction and both podcasts compliment each other nicely. I have yet to check this comic out but I suppose it’s time to lay down my hard earned 99 cents and see what all the hype is about! Below is some art from the book:
[Watson & Holmes hanging out on Baker Street…Harlem, NYC.]
Baker Street Beat posted about his recent visit to the Reform Club (notable for, among other things, rejecting Winston Churchill’s application for membership), which he also argues might be the original inspiration for Brother Mycroft’s beloved Diogenes Club. For more information about The Reform Club as well as other storied London clubs, I thoroughly recommend to you the utterly fascinating Gentlemen’s Clubs of London - now available in an updated 2012 third edition.
[The real Diogenes Club?]
Quick Sherlock Links:
Best of Sherlock posted a round-up of various ‘best of’ 2012 items of particular interest to Sherlockians: Sherlock Holmes pastiches; Holmes-related movies on DVDs; books about Holmes & Conan Doyle; and various items for collectors and researchers. Xmas/holiday gift giving may be over, but there’s always excellent reasons to give a gift to the Sherlockians in your life. I highly recommend Randall Stock’s Best of Sherlock website to both Sherlockian neophytes as well as deeply committed Holmes.
Collider posted an intriguing interview with producer Dan Lin about Warner Bros Sherlock Holmes 3. The quick answer to exactly when we can expect SH3: “It’s still in development. Drew Pearce is working on the script and Downey, as you know, is still finishing Iron Man 3 so we’re waiting for Downey to finish that movie and to get a script from Drew.” Personally Game of Shadows has really grown on me so I’m looking forward to see what they’ll cook up for the third, and presumably final, chapter in the Warner Bros/Guy Ritchie/Downey Sherlock Holmes series.
Portsmouth News ”He’s the internationally recognized fictional detective created by former Portsmouth resident Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Now an exhibition celebrating the life of Sherlock Holmes has been given a huge boost. A total of £80,000 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to bring the collection at Portsmouth City Museum to a wider audience. A total of £10,000 was also donated by the council towards the ‘Sharing Sherlock – The story of a Pompey lad’ project. The cash will fund a new online exhibition and study packs for schools.”
The Batteredbox’s Weblog - blog of George A. Vanderburgh and the Sacred Six - posted this utterly fascinating piece from The World (1907, New York) authored by Bram Stoker in which Conan Doyle is interviewed about Undershaw, ‘motoring’, and other aspects of his life, from literary to gossipy. Take a moment, pour a drink of something naughty or nice and give this a thorough reading, letting your mind pretend that it’s actually 1907 and only half of the Canon has been written, though Holmes has (six years hence) miraculoulsy returned from the deadly cauldron of the Reichenbach.
Sherlockology posted a beginner guide to Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek and the intersections thereof. An intriguing project worth book marking for future perusal. While looking for an appropriate image to accompany this link I found an entry for “Sherlock Holmes” on Memory-Alpha, a Star Trek wiki.
Sherlock. Everywhere. found this delicious image (taken from here) of what can only be thought of as a Canonical cake. From the cake baker: “The book is chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream covered in fondant and hand painted. The text is from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, it is from the 3rd adventure. The pipe and magnifying glass are made from sugar paste and the only non-edible component is the disc of perspex set in the magnifying glass.”
[Truly an item fit for ‘Baker’ Street!]
Doyleockian points out that Undershaw is apparently for sale (again). Whether or not this is a good or bad thing, time will only tell - and thanks to the eternal vigilance of Save Undershaw, no surreptitious action will/can be taken by whoever ends up purchasing the storied and controversial property.
[My only complaint: this isn’t an animated GIF.]
Sherlock Quotes put out a call for someone to take over the blog: “Is anybody interested in running this blog? It looks like undivided self is AWOL and I’d still like to see the blog active even though I don’t want to run it myself. Just message sherlock-quotes or breadraptor and let me know. Make sure you have a good source of quotes, especially if you plan to post daily!” Sounds like a good opportunity if someone wants to enter the world of Sherlockian blogging without starting from scratch.
F—k Yeah Granada Holmes re-posted a series of classic Granada Sherlock Holmes poses and scenes loosely connected via one of Holmes’ most provocative and definitive statements: “My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know” (BLUE).
And to conclude the final Friday Sherlock Links Compendium post of 2012, I’d like to share a picture of the most Sherlockian-centric Xmas present I received this year: a small, hand painted portrait of Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson rendered as cats!
[Seriously, this is what you get a person whose two favorite things are Sherlock Holmes and cats.]
Dan Andriacco is a Sherlockian/author/blogger who I mention quite a bit on Always1895, and for good reason: his posts on Baker Street Beat are always worth reading, the fictional universe of the McCabe/Cody novels is rich and entertaining and his Sherlockian talks have all the hallmarks of a scholar deeply committed to the Canon. My review of his latest novel The 1895 Murder (2012) also happens to be the 221st Always1895 post (What better way to celebrate?!) and I enjoyed it so much that I thought an extended chat/interview with Mr Andriacco was in order. As an added bonus, I have a signed copy of The 1895 Murder to giveaway to one lucky reader (see details at the end of this interview). So without further ado, let’s hear what the man has to say…
Part 1: The 1895 Murder and Other Novels.
Matt Laffey: When you started writing the first McCabe/Cody novel No Police Like Holmes did you have any inkling that it would turn into a multi-novel series?
Dan Andriacco: I’ve always loved series characters, so I’m sure I planned this as a series from the beginning.
ML: What gave you the idea to have McCabe write a play called The 1895 Murder within this novel? On a related note, in the novel there’s a description of the poster for the play The 1895 Murder; any chance this really exists or that you might have someone design one for you?
DA: I started with the idea of a murder on the opening night of a play, and then moved to the idea of a Sherlock Holmes play, and then I figured that Mac should write his plan and star in it, and then I decided that 1895 would be a great title for it. The poster doesn’t exist, but I think I could arrange it if there was enough demand. I know artists!
ML: Jeff Cody, the main protagonist of the series, is an aspiring mystery writer in his spare time but not a Sherlockian whereas his best friend Sebastian McCabe is what we might call a hardcore (yet typical) Sherlockian - what were your original intentions for setting-up this specific dynamic? Why not just make Jeff Cody the hardcore Sherlockian?
DA: Originally, I thought McCabe was the protagonist. That’s why he’s the Sherlockian. Jeff was his Watson or Archie Goodwin. That’s why NPLH is subtitled “Introducing Sebastian McCabe.” But when it quickly became obvious that the readers loved Jeff, I realized that I did too. So from the second book on, they are subtitled “A Sebastian McCabe – Jeff Cody Mystery.”
ML: Do you, Dan Andriacco, identify with Jeff Cody or Sebastian McCabe more?
DA: Sebastian McCabe is in many ways what I wish I was. He’s successful at everything, including writing mystery novels, performing magic, and speaking many languages. He’s what I would be if I could wave a magic wand. And yet, he’s not all that likeable. Jeff is, I hope. When I told my wife that Jeff was a humorous exaggeration of all my foibles, she said, ‘Oh, no, he’s just like you.” I guess she would know!
ML: As a Sherlockian myself, I have the sense that McCabe is based, at least in part, on an actual person or persons. Whether or not you want to give us a name, is there a real life McCabe walking around out there?
DA: There certainly is – in my books. Mac is as real as Santa Claus. I’ve never based any major character on a real person. Of course there are various elements of characters that are suggested by real people, but not the whole package. Jeff’s psychological resemblance to me (not physical) may be the closest I come, but I am truly not that neurotic. I hope. There are other differences: Jeff likes baseball, hard-boiled detective stories, and soft drinks. I’m not into any of those things.
ML: Since the release of these three novels have you received any complaints or negative feedback from people who took issue with your portrayal of Sherlockians, college presidents, academics, magicians, actors, police chiefs, etc. in your novels?
DA: Not at all. In fact, I received a wonderful fan letter from a reader who said she loved the way I so accurately I captured the feel of a small town college. Her husband is a retired college administrator. This really pleased me because I’ve never lived in a small town or worked at a college (except as an adjunct professor). Apparently my research has paid off.
ML: In No Police Like Holmes we were introduced to a number of interesting/colorful Sherlockian characters who were in town for a Sherlockian Symposium - is there a chance we’ll ever get to encounter one or more of those characters again in future McCabe/Cody stories? (I very much enjoyed the scene where one of the characters in The 1895 Murder makes a visit to University library to check out something in the Chalmers Collection, first referenced in NPLH.)
DA: I don’t have any specific plans, but it’s quite likely. One of my goals with the series is to create a consistent world in it, so bringing back characters would be a natural. I’ve already done this to a degree in a novella that won’t be published for a while. And I’m sure we’ll see Lynda’s parents and defense attorney Erica Slade from The 1895 Murder again. I knew when I put Sister Mary Margaret Malone (Triple M) in Holmes Sweet Holmes that she would become a major character in the next book. I loved the way you referred in one of your posts to my “Benignusverse.” That’s how I think of it now.
ML: I get the impression that you enjoy inserting ‘Easter eggs’ or little references to ‘real life’, eg. a certain bourbon whiskey brand (which I know you’re a connoisseur), a certain ‘1895’ bumper sticker I’ve seen being given out at Sherlockian events, etc etc. Is this something you started off doing consciously or did these sorts of references accidentally creep in?
DA: The Benignusverse is deliberately populated with a combination of real products that readers know and ones that exist only in my books, such as Cleopatra VII and Birth of Venus perfumes.
ML: Any chance one of these books will be optioned for a film? I particularly think No Police Like Holmes and The 1895 Murder would make great films.
DA: From your lips to God’s ears! I quite agree.
ML: I know a lot of Sherlockians are fans of the McCabe/Cody series - have you received much attention from the mystery community outside of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts?
DA: Not as much as I would like. I was delighted to appear on a panel at Bouchercon, but it was a Holmes-themed panel with some big-name Sherlockians. A couple of non-Holmes mystery writers have told me they enjoy the books.
ML: Rumor has it that you’re working on a fourth novel which almost finished - can you confirm or deny this? Can you tell us anything about it, for example it’s title, premise, Sherlockian reference, general release date, etc.?
DA: The Disappearance of Mr. James Phillimore is finished in first-draft form and should be published sometime next year. In a way, it’s my most Sherlockian story of all. Mac, Kate, Jeff, and Lynda are all involved, but the story takes place in London. As the title indicates, it’s very closely connected to an untold tale of Dr. Watson – the disappearance and then the murder of Mr. James Phillimore. Mac solves it with the help of a Sherlock Holmes pastiche short story that is embedded in the novel. Another unique factor is that this story includes a master villain – Mac’s Moriarty! As a bonus, the volume will include at the end a story written by Lynda Teal about a mystery she solves on her honeymoon in Rome – “The Adventure of the Vatican Cameos.”
ML: And looking even further afield, any chance of a fifth McCabe/Cody novel?
DA: More than a chance! The next McCabe-Cody title will be a collection of novellas and short stories, the first of which is already written. But first, Kieran McMullen and I are collaborating on The Amateur Executioner, a mystery novel set in London in 1920. Holmes is a character, but not the main protagonist. The next two McCabe/Cody books will involve murder at a bookstore in Erin and murder at a mystery conference in Cincinnati.
Part 2: Dan Andriacco, the Man, the Myth, the Sherlockian.
ML: Aside from the Cody/McCabe series you also published a non-fiction book called Baker Street Beat, which collected a number of essays, plays and thought pieces on Sherlock Holmes - can we expect any non-fiction Sherlockian projects in the near future?
DA: Someday, if there’s enough demand, I’d like to publish a book of my talks on Sherlock Holmes and some of my better blog posts.
ML: How did you first get hooked-up with MX Publishing, the company that has published all three McCabe/Cody novels and Baker Street Beat?
DA: I originally planned to self-publish Baker Street Beat but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Joel and Carolyn Senter, the proprietors of the Classic Specialties online store, suggested MX. Steve Emecz [of MX] agreed very quickly to publish it. It’s been a great relationship.
ML: How long have you been into Sherlock Holmes and at what point did you decide that the Sherlockian lifestyle was for you - opposed to simply being a fan of the 60 stories?
DA: I’ve been strongly into Holmes since I was about nine. Admittedly, my interest has waxed and waned, but I have been a member of the Tankerville Club in Cincinnati without break since 1981.
ML: Which Sherlockian scions are you involved?
DA: In addition to the Tankerville Club, I recently joined the Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis.
ML: Have you had a chance to watch CBS’s Elementary and what do you think about it? On a related note, what do you think Sebastian McCabe would think about Elementary?
DA: I’ve only seen one episode, the first. I thought it was reasonably entertaining and almost totally unrelated to the Sherlock Holmes that I know. Mac is more into popular culture than I am, and so probably would like it more. He’s just a big kid.
ML: Whether or not you’ve seen Elementary, what do you think of the current/contemporary state of both Sherlockian culture and Sherlock Holmes in popular culture? Again, any thoughts on what Sebastian McCabe might think of the contemporary Sherlockian scene?
DA: That’s a complex question. I think that Mac would agree with me that anything that brings more fans to Sherlock Holmes is good to a point. The point where it’s not good is where the very name “Sherlock Holmes” starts to be meaningless because we don’t know whether we’re talking about a 19th-20th century man, or a 21st century man in London, or a 21st century man in New York – or a 19th century man in 22nd century New London with an android Watson.
ML: Who are some of your biggest Sherlockian influences, particularly in reference to the fiction you write? [Note: A few months back Mr Andriacco and I (via Baker Street Beat and Always1895.net, respectively) collaborated on a small project where we named and discussed our favorite posthumous Sherlockians.]
DA: I’m not conscious of any Sherlockian who influences my fiction, unless it would be Rex Stout. My prose reminds some people of his, although that’s not conscious on my part and I think there are significant differences in our approach.
ML: Other than being a terrific novelist and a dedicated Sherlockian, what else would you like my readers to know about Dan Andriacco?
DA: I’m available to talk to groups and I love doing it. I can be contacted through my blog at www.danandriacco.com.
As promised, I have a copy of The 1895 Murder to giveaway to one lucky Sherlockian who can answer the following question: What song does Jeff Cody have his ringtone set? (two possible answers, sending one is fine) Please send your answer (along with your name and email address) to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 2nd 2012. The winner will be picked by an extremely advanced robot randomizer and alerted by email. Also, if you are interested in being added to the Always1895 weekly new post alert, please mention “add to 1895 mailing list” in an email to the same address. Thanks for reading!
Classic Review: Wheels of Anarchy: The Story of An Assassin: As Recited from the Papers and the Personal Narrative of His Secretary, Mr. Bruce Ingersoll (1908/2010) by Max Pemberton; edited by Hugh Cooke & Paul R. Spiring [MX Publishing].
For a multitude of reasons, Wheels of Anarchy is a volume that should reside in every Sherlockian’s library. Previous to MX Publishing’s re-release of Max Pemberton’s Victorian-era thriller (for lack of a better genre term), copies went for upwards of $200 to $350 on Abe Books. Historically Wheels is extremely important because it represents a loose collaboration/communication between three notable Victorian authors/personalities: Bertram Fletcher Robinson, Arthur Conan Doyle and Max Pemberton. The story itself is a classic page turner where the action takes place all throughout Europe and feels as fresh/contemporary today as it must have to readers in the early 1900s.
According to legend Bertram Fletcher Robinson, Arthur Conan Doyle and Max Pemberton were invited to join a London-based criminological (literary) society in 1904 referred to by its members as Our Society or Crimes Club. The ACD/Robinson relationship and it’s connection to The Hound of the Baskervilles is well known and has been told before, but a similar, equally fruitful relationship developed between Bertram Fletcher Robinson and Max Pemberton which led to the creation of Wheels of Anarchy.
[Anarchy in the Victorian UK!]
In 1907 Bertram Fletcher Robinson was diagnosed with typhoid and became terminally ill. During his final days Robinson made notes pertaining to a narrative that he and Max Pemberton had discussed during the course of their friendship. Shortly before Robinson’s death, Robinson asked Pemberton to compose a novel based on previous discussions (some of which ACD purportedly took part) and said notes. The result was Wheels of Anarchy, a testament to both the friendship between Robinson and Pemberton as well as the creative climate that must have existed in the Crimes Club. From the Author’s Note:
“This story was suggested to me [i.e. Pemberton] by the late B. Fletcher Robinson, a dear friend, deeply mourned. The subject was one in which he had interested himself for some years; and almost the last message I had from him expressed the desire that I would keep my promise and treat of the idea in a book. This I have now done, adding something of my own to the brief notes he left me, but chiefly bringing to the task an enduring gratitude for a friendship which nothing can replace.”
Along with it’s historical importance, Wheels of Anarchy is a rip-roaring thriller that feels like a cross between a contemporary Jason Bourne movie (in scope) and a Sherlock Holmes adventure (in pacing and aesthetics). If you enjoy turn-of-the-(19th)-century political intrigue mixed with the occasional damsel (or femme fatale!?) in distress interweaved with international skullduggery and the occasional philosophical dialogue aside, then picking this book up should be priority number one.
The novel begins with Bruce Ingersoll, a newly minted Cambridge graduate whose only two prospects seem to be some outstanding debts and a job interview in London. Ingersoll’s life is quickly turned upside down as he begins working for an extremely rich Canadian industrialist Mr. Jehan Cavanagh whose sole purpose seems to be (privately) fighting international terrorism in the guise of (violent) Anarchism. Within 48 hours of taking the ‘secretarial’ job Ingersoll is initiated into a secret war being waged by Cavanagh and his tight knit group of ‘helpers’ against various anarchist organizations throughout Europe. Descending into a murky world painted shades of gray, Ingersoll soon learns that Cavanagh has a personal score to settle in the midst of the “absolute justice” being dispensed to various ‘bombing groups’. Though Ingersoll intervenes occasionally in the great events surrounding him, his primary role is one of ‘Watsonian scribe’ (ACD’s influence?).
Running parallel to the main action is a subtler tale that charts the moral development of both Cavanagh and Ingersoll as they wrestle (both figuratively and literally) with the decisions and implications swirling around them. Cavanagh must come to terms with the more animalistic/amoral tendencies of a man who chooses to act above and beyond the law, while Ingersoll must grapple not only with the implications of his role in Cavanagh’s fight, but with a more personal entanglement whose outcome depends on faith, morality and loyalty. On the one hand the resolution of these events can be seen as purely ‘literary’ and satisfying, but when viewed as precursors to World War I (the Great War was less than a decade away) the tone quickly becomes eerily prophetic and, with 20/20 hindsight, dramatically revealing.
Though it is a shame that Max Pemberton was taken so early, his legacy will live on thanks to the hard work of Victorian Literature revivalists like Paul R. Spiring. I can only hope that Spiring and Cooke, and others, with the help of dedicated publishers like MX Publishing have plans to release further Victorian era literature in their original facsimile format and/or scholarly, annotated editions. Personally, it’s always been a goal (fantasy) of mine to discover a forgotten Victorian story or novel and work toward it’s re-publication, supplying a fresh and definitive biographical statement along with a rich and detailed set of annotations.
Wheels of Anarchy at MX Publishing.
Max Pemberton books at Project Guttenberg.
Paul Spiring’s Wikipedia page.
** Dearest Reader: I’m not sure if you noticed but the title of this post is “Classic Review” opposed to just “Review”. Along with my attempt to review as many new Sherlockian books (scholarly and pastiche) as possible, I find myself wanting to review various Sherlockian ‘classics’ that I’m often reading simultaneously with contemporary titles. For example, I’ve been working on a monster review of D. Martin Dakin’s A Sherlock Holmes Commentary, a Sherlockian classic if there ever was one.
[The original cover, published by Cassell and Company, London, 1908.]
Furthermore if a ‘classic review’ title also happens to number among The Shaw 100, I’ll make a note of it at the start of the review and then comment on it’s Shaw 100 status towards the end of the review. Depending on how rigorous of a job I perform reviewing classic titles, my hope is to have a majority of The Shaw 100 books reviewed on Always1895.net. Though I’ve personally touched on acquired titles from The Shaw 100 in past posts, there’s no question that each one of those books deserves a lengthy review. To borrow a classic quote: “Never has so much been written by so many for so few” (Christopher Morley).