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Return of the Son of Murder Monday

I'm back home and almost through the busy season, so hopefully this will be the last useless placeholder for a while.

I didn't actually finish reading anything this week, either! I did have the opportunity to attend an old-school Sherlockian meetup, which was a lot of fun. Highlights of the event included: a summary of "Silver Blaze" composed entirely of clickbait headlines and a guy getting summarily shouted down for trying to make an analogy with his other fandom, Hannibal.

I took home five copies of The Serpentine Muse "a quarterly publication of The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes." This is a zine of about twenty pages with club and fandom news, light verse, speculations on the fates of minor characters, commentary and criticism both earnest and facetious (the latter tending to culminate in a pun of some kind) and toasts to various character categories and characters, Irene Adler and the milk-drinking snake being clear favorites.

One of the most interesting articles was a brief summary of the case of Mary Ann Cotton, a real woman who poisoned between 15 and 20 people with arsenic over a period of twenty years. The author suggests that this is "the most winning woman [Holmes] ever knew" who "was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money," though it appears Cotton was only convicted of one murder and probably committed more than three.

The Listerdale Mystery (a short story collection) was waiting for me when I arrived home last night; I've only read the title story so far, notable for a greater density of snobbery than usual for Christie (the protagonist is a victim of "genteel poverty" who dreads having to share a roof with "fellow-lodgers who always seem to be half-castes") and half the second story, "Philomel Cottage," which is nicely creepy in a mundane way.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 18th, 2017 03:42 am (UTC)
I love the speckled band story and nothing can convince me that snake did not prefer milk :p

...did they say why she poisoned them??
Jul. 18th, 2017 03:54 am (UTC)
I'm very fond of the milk-drinking snake myself! poor thing.

It's hard to tell at this distance, but her motives seem to have been primarily financial, with a side of "kids are difficult to bring up, but reliable birth control hasn't been invented yet." A significant number of her victims were insured, with Cotton as beneficiary - though she never got rich off her insurance payments; it was more that they kept her going. What got her arrested in the first place seems to have been an offhand remark - she was asked if she would marry a man with whom she was involved; she said her child was in the way (the man in question didn't want to be responsible) but "she wouldn't be troubled long"; this struck the hearer as suspicious when the child died a few weeks later.
Jul. 18th, 2017 04:00 am (UTC)
The meet-up sounds fun!
Jul. 18th, 2017 03:41 pm (UTC)
It was fun and fascinating! I wish there were a high enough concentration of fandom dorks to support something like that where I live.
Jul. 18th, 2017 06:17 am (UTC)
There was a TV mini-series about Mary Ann Cotton recently - at least, I saw it earlier this year, but it may have been older. [Looks up the name based on remembering that the maid from Downton Abbey was in it]: Dark Angel! I only have vague memories of it, but I recall a lot of non-poisoning deaths in her life and a fear of the workhouse. Couple that grief and anxiety with means and opportunity, and her actions almost make sense. (More sense to me than those serial killers who make coats out of skin or suchlike.) She really must have been a winning personality, because there were about five or six husbands in the mini-series.
Jul. 18th, 2017 04:01 pm (UTC)
Her father died in a workplace accident when she was eight; the company immediately kicked her family out of the company housing. Fear of the workhouse was a big deal! So was having a child a year with no more income than before. Definitely one of the more understandable serial killers, I think - though maybe it just looks that way from a long way off; maybe up close it would be different.
Jul. 18th, 2017 02:25 pm (UTC)
Sounds like the meet up was fun. Cannibal horses?;p Are there toasts for inaccurate zoology?
Jul. 18th, 2017 04:04 pm (UTC)
Inaccurate zoology is one of the great recurring themes of Sherlockian scholarship (and consequently of the toasts). Though in the case of the Hannibal fan who got shouted down, I don't think he was making any claims about the horses in "Silver Blaze," I think he was just trying to bring his other favorite into the discussion somehow - I don't remember the context, but I do remember that no one was having it.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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