Friday, March 25, 2016

“You evidently don’t know me” (FINA): The Many On-Screen Incarnations of Moriarty

I started thinking about this topic when everyone was a little preoccupied discussing other things. I found that I didn’t want to talk about those things, but I wanted to talk about Moriarty. Again. I’ve written about the character before, but now seems like a good time to revisit the conversation. Let’s talk about Professor Moriarty and Mr. Moriarty, James Moriarty and Jim Moriarty and No-First-Name-Given Moriarty, Moriarty in the 19th century and in the 21st, a Moriarty colluding with Nazis and one who wears a crown. Let’s talk about the author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid and a treatise on the binomial theorem. Let’s talk about the spider and his web, the virus in the hard drive. Let’s talk about the many faces of the Napoleon of Crime.

And there have been so many faces, and so many words written about a character that appears in comparatively little source material. Moriarty is only directly mentioned in two of the original stories: “The Final Problem,” and “The Valley of Fear,” and is mentioned reminiscently in five others: "The Empty House,”  “The Norwood Builder," "The Missing Three-Quarter," "The Illustrious Client," and "His Last Bow." When thinking in terms of words allotted in the Canon, Moriarty is a minor character – but a minor character in the way of Inspector Lestrade, Irene Adler (ick) or Mycroft Holmes. He looms large and casts a long shadow. That is to say, he is not minor at all.

The breadth and variety of on-screen Moriartys speak to the complexities of the character. No truly minor character would invite such panoply of interpretation. While many adaptations have characteristics that overlap – threads that are common throughout the web – each has a unique distinction that sets it apart.

Granada Television’s Sherlock Holmes: Professor Moriarty (Eric Porter)
Eric Porter was a Moriarty straight of the Canon if there ever was one. Such was the case with so many things in the Granada series, of course. In appearance, he was very nearly the epitome of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s description:

He is extremely tall and thin, his forehead domes out in a white curve, and his two eyes are deeply sunken in his head. He is clean-shaven, pale, and ascetic-looking, retaining something of the professor in his features. His shoulders are rounded from much study, and his face protrudes forward and is forever slowly oscillating from side to side in a curiously reptilian fashion. He peered at me with great curiosity in his puckered eyes.

Where Porter deviates from the original, of course, is in terms of screen time. According to Granada’s producer, Michael Cox: “…[Moriarty’s] one good scene and fight to the death gives him only four minutes and funeral.” To expand Porter’s role beyond that “four minutes and funeral,” Moriarty was included in the plot of Granada’s version of “The Red-headed League,” even though the Professor plays no role in the original story. At the end of the episode, it’s revealed that Professor Moriarty was the mastermind behind John Clay’s attempted bank robbery, and the Professor is obviously less than pleased to discover that he has been foiled by Sherlock Holmes. In addition, Granada’s version of “The Final Problem” included a subplot in which Moriarty has stolen the Mona Lisa, and is endeavoring to execute a complicated conspiracy of art forgery and extortion – only to be thwarted by Sherlock Holmes. Again. Footage featuring Porter from “The Final Problem” is also used in “The Empty House” (1986) and “The Devil’s Foot” (1988), which creates the reminiscent sense of the Professor that is present in the Canon.

The Rathbone-Bruce Films: Professor Moriarty (Lionel Atwill, Henry Daniell, George Zucco)
Over the course of their fourteen Sherlock Holmes films between 1939 and 1946, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce would work with three different Moriartys – and the actors would all appear in other roles in the franchise. The first was George Zucco in the 1939 film, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. According to Alan Barnes, author of Sherlock Holmes on Screen, “The most measured of crazies, [George] Zucco’s Moriarty makes a significant impression, enjoying another standout scene in which he dares the bullied Dawes to let slip a razor while shaving him: ‘You’re a coward, Dawes. If you weren’t a coward you’d have cut my throat long ago…’” (21). Zucco would return to the franchise in the 1943 film, Sherlock Holmes in Washington, not as Moriarty, but as the less memorable villain, Heinrich Hinkel, a Nazi spy. He left his indelible mark on the character, however, in that many future Moriartys either returned to or borrowed from Zucco’s performance in some way.

Lionel Atwill first appeared in the Rathbone-Bruce films as Dr. James Mortimer in the 1939 version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. He would go on to play Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942). According to Atwill in a 1933 interview with Motion Picture magazine, "See, one side of my face is gentle and kind, incapable of anything but love of my fellow man. The other side, the other profile, is cruel and predatory and evil, incapable of anything but the lusts and dark passions. It all depends on which side of my face is turned toward you—or the camera. It all depends on which side faces the moon at the ebb of the tide.” With such personal awareness, perhaps Atwill was the most equipped to capture the dual nature of Moriarty – the academic and the criminal, the genius and the madman.

Finally, Henry Daniell (who had previously appeared in the franchise in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942) as Sir Alfred Lloyd, and Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943) as William Easter), starred as Professor Moriarty in The Woman in Green (1945). Daniell’s take on the infamous Napoleon of Crime was Basil Rathbone’s favorite of the fourteen films. “There were other Moriartys,” Rathbone wrote in his autobiography In and Out of Character, “but none so delectably dangerous.” It is, of course, Daniell’s iconic scene in The Woman in Green, where Moriarty ominously ascends the staircase to meet Sherlock Holmes, which was borrowed for the 2012 episode of BBC’s Sherlock, “The Reichenbach Fall.”

Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows: Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris)
The Moriarty of the Guy Ritchie films began – appropriately enough – in shadow, never actually appearing on screen in the first film, Sherlock Holmes (2009). The Professor kept to dark corners, with only a glove or hat brim visible. Voiced by Ed Tolputt, the shadowy figure wasn’t even explicitly identified as Moriarty until the end of the movie.

However for the 2011 film, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Jared Harris was cast as Moriarty (ultimately going on to dub over Tolputt’s dialogue in the first film) and a new adaptation came into full form. Harris’s Moriarty is shades of George Zucco’s interpretation in terms of malevolence and single-minded ruthlessness. And he is, without question, Holmes’s equal in terms of intelligence. “Come now,” he says to Sherlock Holmes. “You really think you're the only one who can play this game?” Contrary to other interpretations, Harris’s Moriarty is set on a global domination that previous incarnations had not been – at least not to the scale seen in the film. World war – that’s his goal – and he’s not all that particular about how it comes to pass. As he says, “You see, hidden within the unconscious, there is an insatiable desire for conflict. So, you're not fighting me, so much as you are the human condition. All I want to do is own the bullets and the bandages.”

In his approach to the character of Professor Moriarty, Harris said: “I didn’t want to do the bad-guy monologue, and I didn’t want to say anything unless there was a really good reason for it...I think that [Moriarty] doesn’t have that morality chip that other people have. He just looks at things and says, ‘If I can do it and it can be done, then why not?’”

BBC’s Sherlock: Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott)
The BBC’s recent Sherlock Christmas special, “The Abominable Bride,” inspired a lot of conversation, but it also inspired this post. I’ve always had an affinity for Andrew Scott’s interpretation of Moriarty, as it is fascinating to watch the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) differences between an actor playing a James Moriarty and not a Jim Moriarty – which is what Andrew Scott is doing. Scott’s Moriarty is malevolent and villainous, which are features that should be considered fairly standard for the character. He’s also intelligent in the same way that a boiling pot is considered hot. He’s intelligent until something upsets the balance and tips him over into frenetic insanity. After all, he once famously proclaimed that he would turn a contact into shoes if they disappointed him. And therein is the difference between a James Moriarty and a Jim Moriarty, between a Professor Moriarty and a Mr. Moriarty.

Transplanting Andrew Scott’s Moriarty into the 19th century no more transforms him into Professor Moriarty than putting him a waistcoat. Nevertheless, there are still some similarities. After all, Scott’s Moriarty says to Holmes, “Shall we go over together? It has to be together, doesn't it? At the end it's always just you and me!” The bit of dialogue is somewhat reminiscent of George Zucco’s Moriarty, who once commented, “Always Holmes until the end.” It’s a sentiment that is perhaps the thesis statement for the pair’s entire relationship.

Elementary: Jamie Moriarty (Natalie Dormer)
Says Joan Watson, "There is no Irene. There is only Moriarty, and Moriarty is never going to change.” Jamie Moriarty began on CBS’s Elementary as Irene Adler, a former lover of Sherlock Holmes’s thought brutally murdered. She reappears – very much alive – in the first season episode, “Risk Management,” and Holmes believes that she has been Moriarty’s prisoner.

She was, of course, no such thing. Irene Adler was merely a cover for Jamie Moriarty – a criminal mastermind. Like other Moriartys before her, she is ruthless, coolly calculating, and possessed of a brilliant intellect. As she tells Sherlock Holmes, “My first instinct was to kill you. Quietly. Discreetly. But then, the more I learned about you, the more curious I became. Here, at last, seemed to be a mind that... that rivaled my own, something too complicated and too beautiful to destroy... at least without further analysis.”

However, as I’ve commented briefly elsewhere, what sets Dormer’s Moriarty apart is not her gender, but her triumphs. Jamie Moriarty succeeded where other Moriartys (and Adlers) had not – in actually, genuinely deceiving Sherlock Holmes. He is so thrown by her deception and the revelation of her true character that Watson is concerned that Holmes may relapse into his old drug habits.

Dormer had hinted at the dual nature of her character in a May 2013 interview: “The cool thing about Irene Adler is you don’t really know who she is or where she comes from… If you look into the novels or the incarnations of her — she’s a bit of a con woman, a bit of a wily one herself, so she has an accent, but you can’t quite place it, so I [thought], if I can do some kind of general American accent that is like, ‘What is that? Where is she from?’”

Moriarty has many faces – young and old, male and female, some a little more intelligent than others, some a little more unhinged than others. Nevertheless, if all roads lead to Baker Street, all incarnations still lead to Moriarty. For Sherlock Holmes, at the end it’s always Moriarty. Always Moriarty, until the end.

  • Barnes, Alan. Sherlock Holmes on Screen: The Complete Film and TV History. London: Titan Books, 2011. Print.
  • Cox, Michael. A Study in Celluloid: A Producer’s Account of Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes. Indianapolis: Gasogene Books, 2011. Print.
  • Gettell, Oliver. “‘Sherlock Holmes’: Jared Harris pulls Moriarty out of the shadows.” Los Angeles Times. Dec. 2011. n. pag. Web. 24 January 2013.
  • Lash, Jolie. “Natalie Dormer Talks Irene Adler ‘Elementary’ Guest Arc, Play Margaery in ‘Game of Thrones.” Access Hollywood, 16 May 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Toast to the Woman: If You Can Believe It

[As presented as the February 2016 meeting of Watson's Tin Box in Ellicott City, Maryland.]

I’m probably one of the least likely of people to toast to the Woman. My feelings about Ms. Adler are well known, and well-documented, and there is no love lost between us. Frankly, I think she gets far too much credit.

For starters, she didn’t beat Sherlock Holmes. He knew exactly where that photograph was; she just managed to run away before he could confront her. And if that is the metric by which we are now determining winners – well, I was a much better athlete in high school than I originally believed. If we're being honest, she merely committed the literary equivalent of taking her ball and going home.

As it was, I was both pleased and excited when Elementary premiered on CBS in 2012, primarily because I initially heard that Irene Adler would not be appearing on the show. I was ecstatic to learn that supposedly her character had been brutally, horribly murdered off-screen. I was gleeful. I might not be a nice person.

Anyway, imagine my disappointment at the end of the first season when it was revealed that Irene Adler was alive, and that she would be played by Natalie Dormer. But there was a twist. Elementary’s Irene eventually revealed herself as a female Napoleon of Crime, Jamie Moriarty. For obvious reasons, they had my attention. I guess it doesn’t take much.

Elementary’s Jamie Moriarty was coolly calculating. She inspired both respect and fear. She was both shrewd and fiercely intelligent. She did not suffer fools lightly. 

All right. I'm listening. You have my attention.   

But most importantly, she actually, genuinely deceived Sherlock Holmes. For a time. Which is fine, because no one can get past Sherlock Holmes forever. Nor should they.

Here, finally, was the Irene Adler I had been promised. The one everyone else had seen, but I never had.

Please raise a glass with me and toast to the Woman – may we all find the incarnation of Irene Adler we need, if not the one we deserve.


"There is no Irene. There is only Moriarty, and Moriarty is never going to change." (Joan Watson)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sherlock Holmes on Screen: Mr. Holmes (2015)

The Distinguished Speaker Lecture during the most recent Baker Street Irregulars (BSI) Weekend in New York City featured Jeffrey Hatcher, the screenwriter for the 2015 film “Mr. Holmes.” Hatcher was erudite and funny, witty and insightful. On the other hand, I committed an egregious error – I forgot to bring my notebook. For those who know me well, this is akin to my walking into the Midtown Executive Club without trousers. The lapse in my memory caused by the flurry of new activity and unfamiliar surroundings, perhaps? Nevertheless, the lecture was one of the most enriching experiences of the weekend, and I managed to survive without notebook and pen. Somehow. I occasionally feel a little twitchy about it.

“Mr. Holmes,” which starred Sir Ian McKellen in the title role was based on the 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin. Featuring an elderly Sherlock Holmes beekeeping in Sussex Downs, the Detective struggles with the increasingly undeniable deterioration of his mental faculties. In a recent interview with “I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere,” Cullin said:

The novel was my way of dealing with my father's health issues as his sharp mind started to unravel. It's a literary novel, really, and a highly metaphorical yet personal one at that, touching on my own grappling with the definitive ending of my childhood.

It's also a book about lost father figures, and a tribute to the late John Bennett Shaw who had been another great benign father figure to me as a boy. I was saying goodbye to a lot of things and a lot of people with that book, and that was the function it served for me.

The 2015 film adaptation deals with many of the same themes. In the same way that Cullin’s novel was not a Sherlock Holmes novel, “Mr. Holmes” is not a Sherlock Holmes movie. It is a movie about Sherlock Holmes. Audiences looking for the explosive antics of the 2009 and 2011 Robert Downey, Jr. movies, or any of the modern adaptations, will be disappointed. There are no over-the-top murders disguised as satanic rituals. There are no complex criminal machinations or tightly wound villains. There is just an old man and his bees. His housekeeper and her young son. His memories, which fade in and out. And time, which keeps passing.  

In his lecture, Hatcher revealed that while Sir Ian had always been a top contender for the title role, he had not been the only candidate. Hatcher also gave the script to Ralph Fiennes, who declined the part upon reading it. He felt that the character would require “too much makeup,” which Hatcher had found ironic considering that Fiennes had no nose in his role has Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films. On the other hand, the film’s makeup team had conceded that it would a simple job to transform Sir Ian (in his mid-seventies at the time) into the 93-year-old Great Detective, but they would not be able to turn him into the 50-year-old Holmes featured in the flashback portions of Cullin’s original novel. The best the team could do was a 60-year-old man, and so Hatcher agreed to accommodate the change.

Sir Ian does dapper pretty darn well.

Indeed, much as changed for the Great Detective at the opening of “Mr. Holmes.” There is no more 221B Baker Street, and there is no Mrs. Hudson. Holmes now lives in a country cottage and is tended to by a middle-aged war widow named Mrs. Munro (played by Laura Linney) and enjoys an increasingly amicable relationship with her young son, Roger (played by Milo Parker). Mrs. Munro is both very much like Mrs. Hudson, and also nothing like her at all. Much like Mrs. Hudson, Mrs. Munro finds Holmes frustrating and uncooperative, but much of his behavior could be explained as a product of the man’s age. It would more surprising to find a 93-year-old without any eccentricities (unlike Mrs. Hudson who was hard-pressed to find reasonable explanations for her reasonably-aged tenant’s outrageous behavior). And unlike Mrs. Hudson, Mrs. Munro has less to gain from her relationship with Holmes, and as the audience soon learns – much, much more to lose.

More importantly, there is also no Watson. The best the audience gets is a glance at a distance from a window, and a shot of the Doctor’s back as he cares for Holmes when the Detective reflects on his memories. Watson’s loss is felt early in the film, when Holmes is in need of medical care and a village practitioner arrives to attend to him. Holmes is clearly familiar with the man, and even acquiesces to the man’s suggestions as to how to assess the Detective’s increasingly faulty memory. Familiarity is not closeness, however, and this loss is only enhanced when Holmes reveals later that Watson is long dead and worse yet – that the two had been estranged at the time of Watson’s death. They never said goodbye. Holmes has also suffered the losses of Mrs. Hudson and his brother, Mycroft. Their absences are painful and undeniable, and Holmes does his best to avoid them.

There is Roger, of course – Mrs. Munro’s young son. Roger’s father died in the Second World War and he has little memory of him. He can’t distinguish between the stories his mother told him and his actual memories – which is only one of many ways in which he relates to Holmes. He is fascinated by Holmes, and assists him whenever he can and whenever he is allowed. There is a childish charm in the way that he tries to emulate Holmes, and an understanding in the way that he can’t quite achieve it. For example, Roger mixes some of Holmes’s prickly ash extract into his porridge, proudly eating it in front of his mother – only to spit it out the moment he is out the door. Reminiscent, perhaps, of:  “It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light.” (HOUN)

“Mr. Holmes” is the self-indulgent character study that Sherlockians have always wanted, but never thought they would get. It is a truly intimate picture. An introspective look into the foibles and failings of the Great Detective is not something one expects to see on the big screen, much less with a major distribution. While not a Sherlock Holmes film in the traditional sense, “Mr. Holmes” was a gift to Sherlockians nonetheless. The film makes us think about the Master Detective, to spend time contemplating his most human characteristics. What makes him ordinary, and not extraordinary.


A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, written by myself and Leah Guinn of The Well-Read Sherlockian is now available for purchase through Wessex Press

Friday, January 1, 2016

My Favorite Sherlock Holmes Story: "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" (SIXN)

[As presented at "A Saturday with Sherlock Holmes," in Baltimore, Md., on November 14, 2015.]

When Beth first honored me with the invitation to be here today, and I heard the theme for today’s presentations, I knew immediately and without hesitation that my favorite story in the Canon is “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons.” What I did not know immediately and without hesitation was why. And as I pondered the topic for many weeks (and months, if I’m being truly honest), I began to worry that maybe there wasn’t a why, that like the infamous motiveless crime I simply loved SIXN because. Because of its own merits. Because it was simply a great story. Because I said so. Because, end of sentence. Because, because, because. And then, to my own mind, I started to sound like a petulant child, unable or unwilling to complete the assignment given to her.

And this, for some reason, made me think of my mother. Who knows why?

Those who know me a little better know that my mother is the great reader of my life. She’s the reason that I love books and writing and words. And if there is anything my mother loves more than books and writing and words, it is Law & Order. Not the process, mind you – the television show. The original flavor too, not the Special Victims Unit persuasion or even the Criminal Intent version with its pseudo-Holmesian detective played by Vincent D’Onofrio (but that’s a topic for another day and another presentation). No, she loves the classic with Sam Waterston as Jack McCoy and its ever-cycling cast of district attorneys.

So, what does this have to do with Sherlock Holmes and his six busts of Napoleon, you may be asking (or not)? Because it occurred to me – as I contemplated SIXN and Jeremy Brett’s facial expressions and Basil Rathbone’s creature-features and everything else peripherally related to this tale – that the reason I loved this story is because it is exactly like an episode of Law & Order.

Told you I was going somewhere with this.

Now if you think about it (and I’m going to make you) – an episode of Law & Order typically opens with banal, unassuming scene meant to distract: some kids playing basketball in a park, two friends shopping for expensive clothing in a high-end boutique, a young couple spending the night in a fancy hotel. Eventually, all these people stumble upon something nefarious and gruesome (and usually dead). And SIXN has a similarly inauspicious beginning: the reader learns that Inspector Lestrade has taken to dropping in at Baker Street. To chat. And this particular evening is no different. They are talking about newspapers and the weather. Maybe even their macramé. There’s probably a fire going and brandy in snifters. It’s as charmingly a domestic scene if there ever was one. But not for long, because crime is about to drop from the sky, like a body falling right into the middle of the Baker Street sitting room (a plot device which may or may not have happened in an episode of Law & Order, I can’t be sure). Lestrade has a case. An interesting case – “This is certainly very novel,” says Sherlock Holmes.

Despite the case’s novelty, however, Holmes and Watson don’t pursue it right away. In fact after getting the initial details from Lestrade, Watson posits a theory which ultimately bears no fruit, and Holmes decides to wait to investigate the case until there are “fresh developments.” This brings us to our second element of a Law & Order episode: the redirection in the form of a second crime. In any given episode, upon being given their task, the detectives will set out on their investigation (this is, of course, the “law” portion of the title). However, invariably they find that this initial thread of investigation is nothing but a red herring, leading to a dead end. Or even worse (and better television), while they have been giving their energies to the first investigation, a second and related crime has been committed. There is another victim. And it’s this crime that will ultimately set the detectives on the right path towards solving the case.

In the case of SIXN, the second crime is the body found on the doorstep of Mr. Horace Harker of the Central Press Syndicate. Aside from the dead body (a minor difference), the crime at the Harker residence seems much like the others before it – shattered busts of Napoleon and all. But now there’s a photograph in the dead man’s pocket and a broken streetlamp, both of which are indicative if not outright conclusive. From there, Holmes and Watson go to Harding Brothers, and then to Mr. Morse Hudson, of the Kennington Road. It’s Morse Hudson who provides a major breakthrough (interspersed with talk of Nihilists and anarchists and red republicans). He knows the man in the photograph: it’s Beppo, “a kind of Italian piece-work man,” he says. From there Holmes and Watson “make for Gelder & Co., of Stepney, the source and origin of the busts.” And then finally, based on the information they receive there, to Chiswick and the home of Mr. Josiah Brown. This is where Beppo is apprehended with the fifth bust of Napoleon and the active investigation draws to a close.

And...commercial break!

Now, a typical episode of Law & Order is usually split equally, with "law" bowing out of the way for "order" at about the 30 minute mark. We'll find that the structure of SIXN is definitely frontloaded with more law at the beginning and a briefer order experience at the end. If SIXN were truly an episode of Law & Order, then the “order” portion of the plot would probably only take up about 10-15 minutes of the episode. However, the reader finds that the impact of Sherlock Holmes's order more than makes up for its brevity. With Dr. Watson and Inspector Lestrade acting as something tantamount to a jury, Holmes’s revelatory theatrics are equal to any courtroom drama. With the reveal of the missing pearl in the sixth bust, one can easily imagine Waterston’s Jack McCoy unleashing the last damning piece of evidence against the accused, and all of the pieces of the case falling neatly into place. I mean, Watson and Lestrade even break out into applause for Sherlock Holmes, like they would for any actor on the stage. Holmes then proceeds to outline the details of the case, which go back over a year, and when he is done, it is obvious to the “jury” that Beppo is guilty. Holmes has proclaimed it so, with every leap and twirl and dramatic gesture. But more than that, Holmes has proven it so. And after all, what is order if not that?

Finally, every episode of Law & Order has a summary scene. More often than not, it’s very brief. Sam Waterston shares heated words with the prosecuting attorney on the steps of the courthouse. Or there’s a poignant conversation amongst all the attorneys over Chinese food in a darkened office. It’s a way to draw the episode to close quickly, and with wit and pathos. And this, let’s be honest, the concluding scene of SIXN has in spades.  
“Well,” said Lestrade, “I’ve seen you handle a good many cases, Mr. Holmes, but I don’t know that I ever knew a more workmanlike one than that. We’re not jealous of you at Scotland Yard. No, sir, we are very proud of you, and if you come down to-morrow, there’s not a man, from the oldest inspector to the youngest constable, who wouldn’t be glad to shake you by the hand.”
End of scene. Fade to black. Dun dun. And the Great Detective goes so far as to say, “Thank you! Thank you!,” as if he were at a curtain call, as if he were taking a bow.

As if you didn't know what I meant by "dun, dun".

Of course, it’s more accurate to say that the structure of SIXN paved the way for the episodic organization of Law & Order than the other way around. And I wish I could say with certainty, as Sherlock Holmes does in “The Empty House,” that “The parallel is exact.” Because it’s not exact, of course, but it is very near. It is very near enough to say that SIXN is my favorite Sherlock Holmes story because it reminds me of another dearly beloved thing. Of another dearly beloved person. Or perhaps just because. Because, because, because.