Friday, June 29, 2018

The Ritual ain't so ritual this week.

There's a certain enlightenment that comes with a really good discussion of a Sherlock Holmes story.

I've found this true time after time with our local Sherlock Holmes Story Society, which met again  last night at Peoria's North Branch library. This round was "The Musgrave Ritual," and as much as I'd come to believe that was a lower-rung tale on the ladder of adventures, I found myself quite surprised by its strength and spectrum in returning to it again.

Of course, it might have helped that the goodly crew who gathered tonight was really into the tale, one notably having learned to read along with the Granada series, as her father checked the show's textual accuracy, and had memorized a good deal of the Musgrave case.

We talked so much of the rooms and people of Hurlstone that it began to have the feeling of a game of Clue. Reginald Musgrave in the library with the battle-axe. Janet Tregellis in the gun room with a billiard cue. Rachel Howells in Wales with a bag of gold. (Well, that last one is definitely a variant edition of Clue.)

And even though we didn't go there directly, enough curious coincidences came up to make me wonder how many Reglock shippers there are out there. Holmes speaks of Reginald Musgrave not being popular with the other underclassmen. (Remember how Sherlock likes fellows without any friends to speak of, as with Trevor and Watson.) He also retired to Sussex post-Watson, and who else lived in Sussex? "Confirmed bachelor" Reginald Musgrave. If one also suspects Victor Trevor of some college/Asian-hiatus Holmes dalliances, the only two pre-Watson flashbacks seem to take on a new reason for being there.

But one quickly leaves the shipping lanes when one considers the relative intelligence of Reginald Musgrave, as we did tonight, and he ranking as one of the most clueless and gullible-yet-nice characters of the Canon. Or Holmes's lack of interest or reaction in finding a dead body when there is still mystery to be unravelled. Or how high Musgrave's nose was on his face. (It's the little things.)

Queen Elizabeth's chastity belt. The Gregorian calendar. The metals used in 1600s items of value. Every Sherlock Holmes case has its detailed threads to explore and this, one, even though it does feature that treasure-responsive-reading from the title that draws the eye, has its own hidden chest of jewels. The master detective has always encouraged an eye for detail and a mind for possibilities, and "The Musgrave Ritual" certainly inspires the use of both.

I'm looking forward to getting back to just some of the mental notes I took  last night, saved for later development.

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