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I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere

Episode 146: Revision, My Dear Watson

Burt Wolder: Support for this episode of I Hear Of Sherlock Everywhere is

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at and The Baker Street Journal, the leading
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Scott Monty: I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere Episode 146: Revision My Dear


Mycroft Holmes: I hear of Sherlock everywhere since you became his chronicler.

Announcer: In a world where it's always 1895 comes I Hear Of Sherlock

Everywhere, a podcast for devotees of Mr. Sherlock Holmes,
the world's first unofficial consulting detective.

Dr. Roylott: I've heard of you before. You're Holmes the meddler, Holmes
the busy body, Holmes the Scotland Yard jack in office.

Announcer: The game's afoot as we discuss goings on in the world of

Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, The Baker Street Irregulars, and
popular culture relating to the great detective.
Dr. Watson: As we go to press, sensational developments have been

Announcer: Join your hosts, Scott Monty and Burt Wolder as they talk
about what's new in the world of Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes: You couldn't have come at a better time.

Scott Monty: Well class, we're glad you joined us today here on I Hear Of
Sherlock Everywhere, the first podcast for Sherlock Holmes
devotees where it's always 1895. I'm Scott Monty.

Burt Wolder: And I'm the classless Burt Wolder.

Scott Monty: You're the classic Burt Wolder and to you I say, salvete
discipuli. That would mean there's more than one of you.
Salvete is the plural. It would be salve discipula. Discipulum? I
don't know. My Latin is a trifle rusty.

Burt Wolder: Discipuli, discipula. I love those old folk tunes.

Scott Monty: I think it's time to say vale all around. We've got a delightful
show with you here today. We have a guest on who has
delighted you in the past here on the show, whether you know
it or not. We will be talking to him about how he got started
and, more importantly, the topic of one of the papers that he
gave just very recently at A Scintillation of Scions in Maryland.
Stick around for that. Before we get to that, we do have to
remind you that later in the show, it's your opportunity to win
a Sherlockian prize. You don't have to do anything other than
answer the question and send it in to us. Stay tuned for
Canonical Couplets after the interview.

Scott Monty: Meanwhile, if you'd like to check out the notes to this show,
it's available at, all lowercase. You can reach
us on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram. We are
@ihearofsherlock in all of those places, and you can find the I
Hear Of Sherlock Everywhere website at simply We welcome your emails, your
comments, your feedback, any way you want to get in touch
with us, love to hear from you. Email, of course, is

Burt Wolder: It's been a great show, thanks.

Scott Monty: Next time, I'm gonna do that all in one breath. I'll try my best.
Take a deep breath, folks. It's time to swim over or train down
to our friends in Wessex.

Announcer: Here in the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, we are

celebrating the birth of Edward, The Black Prince. On June 15,
1330, he defeated the evil French at the Battle of Crecy, where
he slew the King of Bohemia and won the heraldic badge of the
Prince of Wales, but you don't need to slay a monarch to get
your copy of One Fixed Point In A Changing Age, a new
generation on Sherlock Holmes from our Wessex Press. These
essays, by a new generation of enthusiasts, embrace modern
day revelations of Sherlock Holmes with an introduction by
Laurie R. King, and available right now from our Let me read the oft read tale again, the
story of that Oxford scholar poor of pregnant parts and quick
inventive brain. Enjoy these oft-read tales anew, thanks to a
new book from the Wessex Press. Choose yours today.

Burt Wolder: Ah, those happy bucolic people.

Scott Monty: Must be nice to live there, huh?

Burt Wolder: Yeah, absolutely. Connected with our pagan forbearers in the
great origin story of mankind and the terrific agrarian society.

Scott Monty: Yeah. I need more agrarian in my diet, I think. Nick Martorelli
spent a decade as a professional actor before switching to a
career in book publishing where he's now an audiobook
producer with Penguin Random House. As headmaster of
Priory Scholars in New York City, he leads story discussions
that will become the hallmark of each meeting. If you've been
out and about, you've seen him probably speak at meetings,
groups like the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, Sons of the
Copper Beeches, the Epilogues of Sherlock Holmes, and most
recently at A Scintillation of Scions. He received his BSI
Investiture, "Seventeen Steps," in 2018. Nick, welcome to the

Nick Martorelli: Thank you, Scott. It is very exciting to be here.

Scott Monty: I feel like you've been with us before.

Nick Martorelli: No, this is my first time on I Hear Of Sherlock [Everywhere],

except unless you count those quizzes that I wrote for you

Scott Monty: We'll get into that in a little bit because you've been part of
the spirit, part of the soul, here at I Hear Of Sherlock
Everywhere for a while. Why don't we start where we start
with all of our guests and you tell us about where you first met
Sherlock Holmes?

Nick Martorelli: Sure. I think I was in 7th grade and we had read a short story
as part of English class. I don't remember which one it was, but
it was probably either The Red-Headed League or The Speckled
Band. That was a year where I was feeling not particularly
challenged by my school and was feeling a little bit ahead of
everybody else. My mother was a former school teacher, so I
came home talking about this short story I'd read. She said,
"Well you know, there are more of them." I said, "What?"

Nick Martorelli: She took me out, and we bought the first volume of The
Complete Sherlock Holmes. It was the two volume mass
market paperback with the brown covers, and she bought me
the first book and told me that she would buy me the second
book when I finished this one if I came up with a list of 20
vocabulary words from the book as I was reading it, then look
them up in the dictionary, use them in sentences, and gave
them to her like it was a homework assignment. If I didn't want
to do that, I could buy the second book with my allowance
money. You'd better believe that I found 20 vocabulary words,
looked them up in the dictionary, wrote new sentences with
them, and got the second book. It's been no looking back from

Burt Wolder: Was your mother an English teacher?

Nick Martorelli: She taught 2nd grade through 8th grade in the Catholic school,
so that section of teaching where it's a little bit of teaching of
everything. English was definitely included, but she knew how
to inspire passion in me and in my sister. Star Trek was very
much the same thing. I remember the crew of The Next
Generation was on a cereal box right before the show
premiered. My parents sat down and they said, "We loved the
original one. We think you'll like this one as much as we did."
Star Trek: The Next Generation became family appointment
viewing from the pilot on.

Scott Monty: How much cereal did you have?

Nick Martorelli: Thankfully I only remember the one box. I don't know if that is
true. I'll be honest. That is how I remember it being, but I know
for a fact that my parents were like, we like this, we think you'll
like it. Same thing with James Bond films, the same thing with
the television show MacGyver.

Burt Wolder: Oh, that's great.

Nick Martorelli: Every one of them, they sat me down and was like ... I got to
stay up half an hour past my bedtime to watch MacGyver, and
that was cool.

Scott Monty: My parents liked drinking. No, let's not go there.

Nick Martorelli: Did they teach it to you?

Scott Monty: They passed it down as part of the oral tradition in our family.

Burt Wolder: They passed out down, yeah.

Scott Monty: How fortunate you were to have a mom like that, who was not
only keenly aware of certain cultural zeitgeists, be they
televised or literary, but who knew how to inspire you and
your sister to want to do more.

Nick Martorelli: Oh yeah, very much. There were the things that I found
somewhere in there on my own, but the major things I have
are my parents sitting me down, major memories I have of my
parents sitting me down and saying, "We think you'll like this,"
and they were always right.

Burt Wolder: Do you happen to remember any of the words that stood out
when you read that first volume?

Nick Martorelli: I do. One of them was pince-nez, which forever I said "pence

Scott Monty: It's not "pence nezz"?

Nick Martorelli: I don't know. Assizes was another one, and I know that--

Scott Monty: Assize is how large your suit is, right?

Nick Martorelli: That usage as well, but of course referring to the courts ... I
remember looking that one up being hard because it wasn't in
the standard American dictionary. I actually had to go find a
much more comprehensive dictionary before the internet was
a thing. Then words that related to Victorian London, like
handsome cab or things like that, that now feel so familiar and
so everyday usage. Thinking back it's like right, I had to go look
up what a gasogene was.

Scott Monty: The innate curiosity that comes along with that, obviously it
took an effort. There are certain kids who, given the choice do
this assignment or spend your allowance money, there are
certain kids who would've been motivated to just earn a little
bit more money, go out and buy the book themselves and not
do the assignment. Your willingness to play along, for one, but
also the self-motivation there as well, the curiosity and the
own self-motivating incentive there, that to me ties directly in
with a later iteration of your Sherlockian career, if we may, and
that is quizmaster.

Nick Martorelli: Yes. I think there is a line there between the two of them.

Scott Monty: Do you remember taking your first Sherlockian quiz and where
was it?

Nick Martorelli: My first Sherlockian quiz was at my first Sherlockian meeting,

which was the Sons of the Copper Beeches in Philadelphia. It
was about 2007 or so, give or take. I remember the kid was on
The Illustrious Client, I remember I did terribly because I had
read it only once in preparation and was completely unused to
the level of detail that would be asked in a Sherlockian quiz.

Scott Monty: Do you remember who wrote the quiz for the Sons that year?

Nick Martorelli: That I have no memory of.

Scott Monty: There's some quizmasters out there, as you well know, who
are ruthless in nature. There are others who are more forgiving
and try to make it a group think exercise. You never know what
you're gonna get.

Nick Martorelli: I wrote the quizzes for the first couple meetings of The Priory
Scholars. I always think that a good quiz is the one where you,
right off the bat, know about 60-70% of the answers. You can
work a little harder to get up to 80, and think to get to 90, but
then there's a couple where they're right on the tip of your
brain, but you can't quite put your finger on it. If anything on
that quiz is too obscure, if it's the list of streets that Sherlock
Holmes walks down in The Empty House or the list of things
that border the square in The Red-Headed League, that to me
edges into the minutia where people disengage from it.

Nick Martorelli: I think a good quiz is leading people on with making the
answers just far enough out of reach that they want to try to
remember the answers as opposed to coming in and saying,
"What is the fourth word on the third page of the story?"
You're like, I don't care. Once you don't care, you can check
out, but it's just that little bit ahead of the quizee that the quiz
needs to stay.

Burt Wolder: Yeah. I think that's a very good description. The best quizzes
touch on, ask about, inquire about, capture things that are
either important during the case in one way or another, to
Holmes or Watson, or are instrumental to the case, to the
situation, to the solution. It's not really, how many collar
buttons were on Violet Hunter's right sleeve?

Scott Monty: Three.

Nick Martorelli: There is an element, I think, of that but you have to play with
the right kind of minutia. I think a great example is something
like, how many forms of tobacco is Sherlock Holmes familiar
with? That is a piece of minutia, but it's a good one. It's a good
thing that you want to write, I can rattle that off.

Burt Wolder: Right. It's an indicator of a character, like how many languages
did Mr. Mayla speak? Things like that.

Nick Martorelli: Exactly. That's actually another great one.

Scott Monty: 18.

Burt Wolder: 17 and a half.

Scott Monty: It sounds like, Nick, that you picked up a little bit of your
mom's traits as a schoolteacher. The way you described how to
hold an audience would seem to be the same way she had to
grapple with holding a classroom and keeping people
interested enough in the material to make it all the way
through. How do you quiz people on this kind of stuff? How do
you test their knowledge? It's not about the arcana, it's really
about, did you get the gist of what was intended?
Nick Martorelli: Yeah. I've always thought that the best teachers are the ones
that teach you how to think or how to approach new
situations. One of my professors in college always said that
there's two kind of information, the kind of information you
need to know, and the kind of information you need to know
where to find. He said openly, he's like, I will never ask you a
date on any of these history quizzes because you can look that
up without any problem. What I want to know is how you
synthesize all of these events together into a story, how one
affects the other, how you can bring your own thinking into
these situations.

Nick Martorelli: It's that sort of, almost want to say holistic but also thousand
foot view that I like about the game, frankly, and I like about
the approach to learning and the approach to curiosity in that
sense. It's like, I don't necessarily want to nitpick Star Trek to
death, but I'm much more interested in its over-sweeping
themes, and how does the structure work, and what's this big
picture in there? Then if the phaser is set on the wrong setting,
I don't particularly care about that as much as what's going on
in the theme.

Scott Monty: Right. Sticking with the academic theme here with your mom
as your inspiration early on, and your involvement with
quizzes, and your fine take on what makes a good quiz, tell us
about The Priory Scholars, how you first got involved with
them and what kind of a group that is.

Nick Martorelli: Sure. About five or six years ago, there was a lot of youngish
Sherlockians in the New York area. Judith Freeman approached
me and Matt Laffey and asked us if we would be interested in
joining her and helping her resurrect The Priory Scholars of
NYC. It was a group that had been active in the past, it was
originally founded by Chris Steinbrunner as The Priory Scholars
of Fordham. It had gone dormant, and Judith had been a part
of it in the past. With this new influx in population and this
new influx in talent, she wanted to restart the scion. We
restarted with a couple meetings with me, her, and Matt as
the faculty and Judith was the headmistress. We had some of
those meetings and they went really well. We realized that we
were, at that point, the only scion in Manhattan. There were
ones in Brooklyn, there were ones in Jersey, but we were the
only one in New York proper.

Scott Monty: What about ASH? Does that count?

Nick Martorelli: ASH, of course, is not a scion of The Baker Street Irregulars.
They're an alternate group, or a splinter group, or a partner
group, or something like that. You are right, it was us and the
Adventuresses. The Adventuresses have a twice-a-year brunch,
toast, and papers kind of meeting, and what we really wanted
to develop was something that revolved around what we
thought of as a more traditional structure, but honestly a
structure that matched our Priory Scholars kind of name. We
wanted toasts, and quizzes, and a story discussion, everything
framed around a single story.

Nick Martorelli: Judith had the idea to get people involved by asking them to
do mini presentations that enhanced our understanding of the
story. We started calling these homework assignments. We
had somebody give a short summary of the story before we
discuss it. Then we have people provide little homework
assignments, which you can think of as short mini five-minute
papers about something specific in the story that helps frame
our discussion or helps explain something about the story to a
modern audience.

Scott Monty: I like that.

Nick Martorelli: For example, when we did "The Bruce-Partington Plans," John
Baesch talked about the railroad of the time. We just did "A
Scandal in Bohemia" and Jen Kneeland talked about cross-
dressing at the time and women in trouser rolls and things like
that. To put these stories into a context for the original readers
as we're having the discussion about them.
Scott Monty: Yeah, I like that. I like that a lot. Those are your homework
assignments. What other schoolroom type or attributes or
nomenclature go along with The Priory Scholars?

Nick Martorelli: Everybody in the organization, the people who run the
organization, we refer to ourselves as the faculty, and we all
have faculty positions. I am the headmaster, Judith is the
headmistress of Merida, Chris Zorden is the finance master
because he runs our treasury and talks to the venues. Rachel
Klingberg is our webmistress, and such things. If you actually
go to our website, the position of German master is available.

Scott Monty: Oh. Are you taking applications for that?

Nick Martorelli: Considering he meets a rather unfortunate fate, we're leaving

that position open at the moment.

Scott Monty: Do you need to know how to ride a bicycle?

Nick Martorelli: One hopes, but we won't make you do it solitarily.

Scott Monty: Fair enough. You guys ever have detention?

Nick Martorelli: No, but we've talked about doing field trips. We also have a
school bell that we ring to start the meetings, we sing a school
song at the end of it. The whole thing, we refer to our focus
fellow scholars, so the whole thing gets a fake school-esque
vibe. We talk about the summer session and the fall session of
the scion and things like that.

Scott Monty: What's your school song?

Nick Martorelli: The song came to us from Judith. It was a previous school song
as well. It's to the vague tune of one of those old English
school songs that you feel like you know, but I can't quite site.
Mickey Fromkin wrote some of the lyrics to it.

Scott Monty: Are you gonna treat us to a sample?

Nick Martorelli: I don't have the lyrics in front of me, sadly. The last time at
ASH, I was trying to come up with them and I am so reliant on
the handouts that I am not sure I could come up with one, but
if you ask really nicely--

Scott Monty: Would you treat us, please?

Burt Wolder: We could always buy the CD. Hey, for 99 cents on your
Soundcloud ...

Scott Monty: There you go.

Nick Martorelli: Scott, does IHOSE have a Soundcloud?

Scott Monty: Yeah.

Nick Martorelli: Well then, I'll make sure you get something. How about that?

Scott Monty: Okay, excellent. We'll look forward to that. If I had my

druthers, it would be [inaudible 00:23:33] but that's a whole
other kind of song.

Nick Martorelli: One of the things we try very much to do with the scion is root
it in its history, but also be moving forward as the hobby
changes. The song is one of those pieces that has come from
the past and we're bringing it forward and is a part of us now.
We have added in the homework and our summary that we
asked people to do and our particular standard toasts. We're
trying to have this alchemy of keeping the memory green by
moving the memory forward.

Burt Wolder: I like that. I wonder if school songs is a trans-Atlantic

phenomenon or if that's just something associated with the
states. I can't remember ever hearing a song associated with
an English school of any sort.

Nick Martorelli: I don't know. Our melody is vaguely ... It's definitely an Alma
Mater. I frankly don't know if it's based on anything specific,
but it has that, oh right, I know what this song is feel to it. It is
the last thing we do. Mickey usually leads it when she's at the
meetings. We're getting better and better at singing it.

Scott Monty: Burt, it could be like Tom Lehrer's "Bright College Days".
(singing) Bright college days, those carefree days that fly. To
thee we sing with our glasses raised on high...

Burt Wolder: (Singing) Let's give a toast as each of us recalls. Ivy covered
professors in ivy covered halls.

Scott Monty: (Singing) Soon we'll be out amidst the cold world's strife. Soon
we'll be sliding down the razor blade of life... This is far too
much on scholarly singing or non-scholarly singing as it would
be. We're gonna take a quick break right now, let you hear
from one of our sponsors. When we come back, we're gonna
talk with Nick all about his latest paper that was all the rage at
Scintillation of Scions.

Announcer: You hear the word "scholar" an awful lot when it comes to The
Baker Street Journal. Scholarly papers, Sherlockian scholarship.
If that isn't enough to sell seashells by the seashore, I don't
know what is. The BSJ is more than a dry and stuffy academic
publication. When you think about it, dry and stuffy are terms
that should really only be used when talking about nasal
passages. The BSJ has managed to have fun with readers and
with itself over the years to lighten the burden of keeping
green the memory of the master.

Announcer: Some examples include a review of The Hound of the

Baskervilles as performed by a tap dance troupe, Sherlock
Holmes in shorthand, Conan Doyle's cycling habits, The
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the Comics, and many
many more. Let's not forget about the regular cartoons of
Scott Bond in Art in the Blood. Yes, there's a little something
for everyone in The Baker Street Journal, scholarly and not.
After school is out, head over to and
subscribe today.
Scott Monty: We're back talking with Nick Martorelli of The Priory Scholars,
ASH, BSI, and all the rest. I want to get a little more scholarly if
we can because just a couple weeks ago, Nick gave a paper
down in Maryland at the Scintillation of Scions event. Those of
you who have listened to our show before know that we had
Jacquelynn Bost Morris on here to talk about Scintillation of
Scions. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, got to check my records
here, that was Episode 107. That would do it, Episode 107.
We'll have that in the show notes.

Scott Monty: This year, Scintillation was handed over to new leadership,
Karen Wilson, who also joined us on a previous show as well,
talking about Hip Hop Holmes, invited our guest here down to
speak. Nick, you want to tell us about the whole process by
which one gets invited to speak or one invites oneself to speak
at Scintillation?

Nick Martorelli: Sure. Karen reached out to me because she had been present
years ago when I had given a faux scholarly paper with my
tongue firmly in my cheek comparing Boba Fett to Irene Adler.

Scott Monty: How does one go about doing that?

Nick Martorelli: I had posted it on Facebook that Irene Adler is the Boba Fett of
Sherlock Holmes and Becky Robare, who was running the
Gaslight Gala at the time, messaged me and said, "I don't know
if that was a joke or not, but would you be interested in giving
that paper at a gala?" I am an actor at heart, so the best way to
get me to do something is to flatter me. I said, "Of course." I
expanded what I thought was just a joke into an actual
argument and presented it at the gala. It was like 2012 or so.
That was what Karen referenced when she asked if I would
come talk at Scintillation. "Not specifically that paper, but
maybe something like that," she said. I ultimately turned in
something that was far more actually scholarly than that one,
for which the world was not yet prepared.
Burt Wolder: For those of our listeners who might not know, can you explain
who Boba Fett is?

Nick Martorelli: Of course. Boba Fett is the bounty hunter in The Empire Strikes
Back, the second Star Wars film. He is the one with the cool
helmet who captures Han Solo, delivers him to Cloud City,
where Han Solo is then frozen in carbonite. Boba Fett is paid
handsomely for what he has done. Then he takes Han Solo off
to the vial clutches of the gangster, Jabba The Hutt. This is all a
trap to ensnare Luke Skywalker for Darth Vader's nefarious
schemes, but Boba Fett is the bounty hunter that Vader hires
to trap Han and lure Luke in.

Scott Monty: The leap to the world of Sherlock Holmes, then?

Nick Martorelli: Briefly, what I argued was that both of those characters have
grown outside their original bounds, by which I mean their
initial appearances in their respective canons are somewhat
minor if you think about it as a piece of a whole, but they are
somehow the thing that have taken on a life of their own
outside of their initial appearance. Boba Fett is standing on the
bridge of that Star Destroyer with four other bounty hunters,
none of which our listeners would know. There is something
about him that leaps out of the rest of the group.

Nick Martorelli: The same thing with Irene Adler. You look at her and you think,
why not Violet Westbury? Why not Violet Hunter? Why not
anyone else? Why not any of these other people? It's Irene
who somehow caught something and moved forward. The
paper is an exploration of maybe what they caught.

Scott Monty: You think about this stuff way too much.

Nick Martorelli: This is, again, that 30,000-foot view, that all inclusive view of
looking at broad strokes and sweeping ideas that go across
lives and across canons, not specifically looking at one story or
two stories against each other, but what does the whole
sweeping theme of it all tell us? What can we learn by thinking
of these as stories in a sequence and not necessarily a
completed thing? These things come out periodically. We were
discussing A Study in Scarlet ["A Scandal in Bohemia" - ed.] at
The Priory School. I said, "This is the first Sherlock Holmes
story, right?" Yeah. It's only the third. This is the third Sherlock
Holmes story because when people read this, all they've read
is the first two novels, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four.
This is not the third of 60, this is the third of three. Then it
becomes the third of four, then it becomes the third of 10.
Eventually, it becomes the third of 60. If we look at it in that
sense, it's almost like looking at it from a fresh perspective,
which was ironically, it's an original perspective.

Burt Wolder: Right. It's very clever and what you're doing here, you're
following in some great footsteps. People like Joseph
Campbell, for example, who years ago wrote Hero of a
Thousand Faces, which was his very sweeping look across myth
all around the world over centuries and distilling it down to
commonalities that, oddly enough to our earlier conversation,
inspired George Lucas to construct the original tale of Star
Wars. Also, the nice thing about it too is it hits a theme that I
really like to come back to time and time again, which is that
Sherlock Holmes really is the hero of a great saga. These 60
stories represent from their commencement to their
conclusion a great heroic tale. I like that a lot.

Nick Martorelli: Absolutely. We don't want to discount that while at the same
time, when we look at Study in Scarlet, we can say we know
nothing else about him. All that we're going to learn is going to
come later. What do we think about him right now?

Burt Wolder: Yeah. That's interesting too. For all the biographies that have
been written about Sherlock Holmes, your observation about
that is something that I haven't thought of before. For
everything we know about Sherlock Holmes and for all the
biographies that have been written, I don't think there are any
that have really treated his evolution as a person. How is he
different and what were the major phases of his life, and how
was he different? Can we gather any of that? Is that a theme?
Is that a construct we can make from looking at the sage or
looking at his case adventures?

Nick Martorelli: The thing I think that would be interesting in there is to

imagine that after the celebrated detective has died so
spectacularly at the Reichenbach Falls, surely opportunistic
publishers would leap in there with their affinitive biography of
Sherlock Holmes. What would that book feel like? What would
it feel like to get his biography halfway through his life? The
scandalous tell-all that comes out when he finally retires,
treating him as ... Encountering him along the middle of his
journey as opposed to as we do. It's all complete, it's all there.
It's all finished. We have a very different perspective on
someone like FDR than we do on someone like Barack Obama.

Scott Monty: This thinking that you brought to "A Scandal in Bohemia," you
also applied it for this larger paper that you just gave at
Scintillation. I'll let you explain it because I think you do a much
better job of setting it up. Why don't you just share with us the
concept of the story. Then we'll work through some of your
premises along the way.

Nick Martorelli: Of course. The paper was called "Revision, My Dear Watson."
My basic way of engaging with the four novels, this was about
the four novels, and I wanted to look at them as the works of a
single writer. As all writers do, they will continue to develop
the same themes, play with the same ideas, sometimes go
back to things they have done before in a previous novel and
work it from a slightly different angle. If we think of these
books as books, and I think we have to, we're gonna give John
Watson a lot of grief for not getting dates right, not getting
facts right, forgetting where he was shot, forgetting what his
own name is, and rightly so, but he also presents himself as a

Nick Martorelli: He's not saying he's a newspaper man. He's not saying these
are factual accounts. In fact, quite the opposite. He's openly
telling us that he is going to lie to us and make stuff up, and
change things, and Holmes accuses him of making them better
stories. We have to go into them knowing that they're fiction.
That's not to say they never happened, but the books as
they're presented are presented as books.

Nick Martorelli: With this in mind, it also becomes much less important to think
about who actually wrote them. Is this John Watson? Is this
Arthur Conan Doyle? If we are engaging with this idea that
whoever wrote them ... Let's call them Arthur Conan Watson.
Arthur Conan Watson is engaging with four novels over the
course of his life. He's having experiences, he's writing other
things. He's going all around in this Sherlock Holmes world, but
what do these four novels have that we can pick apart in that

Nick Martorelli: What I argued in my paper at Scintillation was that each

successive novel reflects a thinking on the previous one and a
reworking of the previous one, that you can see when he goes
to the second one he's going to play with what he did in the
first one and refine a little bit. Then he's gonna get to the third
and he's gonna take ideas from both of the first two and
integrate them with some new ideas into the third. By the time
he gets to the fourth, I argue, the valley of fear is where he
gets it all right, the previous three and all of the short stories
have led to this moment when he actually engages and fully
solves the problem of how to write a Sherlock Holmes novel,
how to get it into a novel.

Scott Monty: What do you make of stories one, two, and four, that's A Study
of Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Valley of Fear, all having a
separate section that is a very long flashback versus The Hound
of the Baskervilles really having a flashback early on but just
kind of summing up the curse. It really involves no action of
any of our main characters. How do you account for that
smack dab in the middle of this quartet?

Nick Martorelli: What I think accounts for that is that in the intervening time,
he has written the short stories. The first two novels are part
one, Holmes, part two, flashback-ish. He then writes a series of
short stories that are all far shorter. He's not worrying about
throwing in this back story. He doesn't have to integrate it in.
When he gets to The Hound of the Baskervilles, it of course has
no clear distinction between the sections, but what we also get
in here is that for the first time, the extra adventure, so to
speak, the lengthening that goes through the novel, that extra
adventure is letters and journal entries explicitly in the text.

Nick Martorelli: This is not the, I wrote all this up later of A Study in Scarlet, nor
is it the outright dialogue of Sign of Four. This is Watson saying,
"I can't do anything than my journal, so here it is." I can't do
any better than copy out the letter I sent to Holmes, so here it
is. This is the first time where that extra content is one of our
leads. Watson is the one who has his own part two in this
story. It's almost as if he has another adventure. Crucially, this
other expansion now is not a flashback, it's not backstory. It's
its own story all by itself.

Nick Martorelli: Watson is off investigating the crime, moving the plot forward,
and he's doing his own thing. I think that's some of the
influence of the short stories that he's now written coming in.
At the end of Hound, we still have the same conclusion. We
still have that chapter where Holmes sits back in the basket
chair and explains everything. That's the bit where we would,
in a previous novel, have gotten ... It's easy to imagine
Stapleton's statement of the case and we are now listening to
Stapleton being interrogated or we are reading the letters that
Barrel has written to Holmes. Holmes said, "I talked to her and
I've got it all," but it's keeping us with the heroes as opposed
to sending us away somewhere else.

Scott Monty: What works particularly well in The Valley of Fear, where we
can see Arthur Conan Watson, as you call him, has reached the
Apex of his Sherlock Holmes writing career?

Nick Martorelli: For me, what Valley Fear does is it brings in elements of the
first three, but also proceeds to iterate them and move them a
little bit forward. There is a part two, and that part two has
entirely new characters, entirely new setting. It's a totally
different plot from part one. That is A Study in Scarlet. It's also
overtly presented to the listener, and I think this is the
influence from Sign of Four because right before we go into
the second half of Valley of Fear, there's that passage where
Watson turns to the reader, essentially, and specifically says,
"I'm gonna ask you to come with me to another story. I'm
gonna tell you more. It's gonna be singular and terrible," but
then he says, "Don't think that I'm telling you a different story.
We're gonna come back to this one. Trust me on this."

Nick Martorelli: This story is not done yet. This is a little break and we'll be back
to Baker Street. That is a little sign of Four-ey, but it's also a
little iterative now moving forward where Watson is saying,
"Come away with me, trust me. These stories connect." It's the
first time he promises that the back story is integral and
connected as opposed to just also there. Then of course, it's
also not really a true backstory of the crime in the same way
that the first two are. The first two are, we learn why the
murderer has committed the murders that the murderer has
committed. The heroes of those first two novels' backstories
are the criminal, but what we get in Valley of Fear is another
identity mystery.

Nick Martorelli: There's another mystery at the heart of part two. The first one
has gone on, who is the murderer? The second one says, no
wait, who was murdered? It's not the backstory as to why the
murderer did the things the murderer did. That, to me, is the
iteration of The Hound of the Baskervilles. We're now giving
you a separate story. This story stands on its own apart from
what we've already gotten. This is not the footnote as to why
the killer did it. This is a whole other adventure that we're
having with another detective and another crime and another
life that he's living. That is very Hound. That is also very Study
in Scarlet, but what we've done now is explicitly connect them.
Watson is saying, "This story connects" as opposed to Study in
Scarlet where suddenly, you're in America and there's not
really any transition there.

Scott Monty: Just the other day, I saw someone going over a number of
mystery fiction or detective fiction authors in some piece. They
finally wound their way back to Conan Doyle. They said, "When
you look at what he did," which was ingenious. He was a
money-making machine, first of all, and he learned how to do,
effectively, a serial but a serial on main characters rather than
on a single plot line. As I've coached companies and talked to
audiences about storytelling, I said, "There's really two kinds of
serials that you can do." One is the story arch and the other is
centered around characters that are interesting enough to
follow along from story to story, but each story can stand on
its own.

Scott Monty: That's the Law & Order model. Someone said, "Conan Doyle
invented the police procedural." When you think about how
each Law & Order story opens, there's some backstory there,
whether it's the murder or whether it's something that's going
on in someone's life. Then by the end of the show, it's all
woven together in some way. The way you just described The
Valley of Fear, it sounds like a much more modern police
procedural than anything we have been exposed to earlier on
in the other stories.

Nick Martorelli: I've also been in conversations talking about The Valley of Fear
as a proto-noir novel. That second half of it has a lot of flavor
that would then be refined by other authors into the next
stage of detective fiction. This is now a hard boiled detective
who's getting into fistfights and scrapes. It's like, as much as
we think of Sherlock Holmes as being fistfights and gunfire,
there's very little of that in there. He is the gentleman
consulting room detective. It's gonna be Phillip Marlow that is
the gunfighter and the brawler, but with Nick Murdo and his
story, I think we're venturing forward in that way. Conan Doyle
is at that point looking at what is coming.
Burt Wolder: Your description of the structural elements of The Valley of
Fear and your overall premise, which is that these novels
looked at in sequence point to a maturation in technique on
the part of Watson, let's say, makes a lot of sense. The Valley
of Fear has always been my favorite of the Holmes novels,
even above Hound of the Baskervilles, only because it's always
seemed to me that the writer ...

Burt Wolder: Let's go back to the sake of argument and talk about Conan
Doyle. This is really Conan Doyle at the top of his game. He's
written so much and all you need to get a sense of it is to look
at the first thousand words. Conan Doyle has so many
hallmarks, and you've talked about some of them. One of them
is that like P.G. Wodehouse, he was focused on writing just the
good parts. His stories always start on action or start with as
few words as possible that just put you right in the action. His
preference is always to start in dialogue.

Burt Wolder: The Valley of Fear starts with, "I am inclined to think, said I, I
should do so, Sherlock Holmes remarked impatiently." Bang.
You were right there with our hero narrator making a
comment to his grumpy friend and off you go. I believe I am
one of the most long-suffering of mortals, but I'll admit, I was
annoyed at that interruption. Really Holmes, you were a little
trying at times. Bang, we're right into Porlock. Who is Porlock?
"You've heard me," says Holmes, "speak of Professor Moriarty.
"The famous scientific criminal," Watson says, "is famous
among crooks as oh my blushes," Watson Holmes murmured
in the deprecating voice. "I was about to say he is unknown to
the public."

Burt Wolder: Just look what's going on in the first two minutes of the story.
Then you're into the cipher challenge. A lot of exposition
around how we can figure out what it says. At the end of this
whole first chapter, what do we have? Holmes and Watson
have pulled out the names Douglas and Birlstone because
those couldn't be coded into the cipher. In comes the
inspector who says, "Mr. Holmes, Mr. Douglas at Birlstone
Manor House was horribly murdered last night." Bum, bum,

Nick Martorelli: Compare that, Burt, to the beginning of A Study in Scarlet that
takes us a chapter of learning who Watson is, a chapter of
learning who Holmes is, and then a chapter of Watson not
knowing what Holmes does. The clients are there, but
Watson's not meeting them until that commissionaire comes
in and they're talking about the Book of Life article. That's four
chapters in. If we go forward from Valley of Fear, we meet
Miss Wonderly on page, what, three of The Maltese Falcon?
We are right there. We're starting, we're ready. Here we go.
Let's happen.

Burt Wolder: But at this point, the author here, go back to Watson, has had
the benefit of writing and preparing for print, seeing in print,
and getting published stories and surely knows what captures
his readers. He's just dropped all the unnecessary things. It
would be an interesting exercise to take any chapter of Valley
of Fear and try to cut things out of it.

Scott Monty: Like punctuation?

Nick Martorelli: Attributions.

Burt Wolder: Yeah. You can't really cut a scene, you can't really trim the
dialogue. There aren't even any extra adjectives. It passes a lot
of tests.

Nick Martorelli: I think something you just referred to, Burt, is one of the ways I
like looking at the novels in this way because you were going
back and forth between Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Watson,
but if we're going to look at it, that's actually why I started
saying Arthur Conan Watson, because if we're going to look at
these as products of the writer, it doesn't really matter which
one of those the writer is. We can still talk about his Sherlock
Holmes stories, whoever the author happens to be.

Burt Wolder: Yeah, exactly.

Nick Martorelli: It's valuable to separate them when we want to make that
separation, and then when we want to conflate them, I think
it's useful to say, "No, we're talking about the same thing."
Again, Watson is not a newspaper man and he never says he is.

Burt Wolder: I think that's exactly right. That's part of the charm and fun of
what we do playing this game, which is that our definition of
Watson and his limits is very flexible. Sometimes when it suits
us, we say his handwriting really wasn't very good. He probably
forgot this. There must be a reason why he wrote down his
wife calling him by a name other than his own. Maybe he was
a little absent-minded, but on the other hand, just think about
it. Let's take the example of Valley of Fear again and say that
all of these remarkable events, the unraveling of this strange
case, the looming presence of Professor Moriarty, you as
Watson are thinking about putting it down as a novel and
making some money and continuing to publish and promote
the cases of Sherlock Holmes. You pick up your pencil and you
say to yourself, "Where do I begin? How am I going to start? I
know. I'll start with that day in Baker Street when we first got
that message from Porlock." If you do that and think about
that, you're adding quite a level of skill and dexterity and
talent to the great chronicler of these cases.

Scott Monty: "It all began that one day when I was sitting around Baker
Street waiting for the telegram to show up." Dingaling!
"Telegram here sir." --John H. Watson, newspaper man.
What's your next project, Nick?

Nick Martorelli: Oh man. We have a Priory meeting coming up in July and then
another one in October. We do three meetings a year. I am
writing a chapter for an upcoming BSI book about soldiers in
the canon, soldiers in the military. I think that's it, Sherlockian

Burt Wolder: You have plenty of free time.

Nick Martorelli: Am I forgetting something?

Scott Monty: Where can people find you if they want to get in touch?

Nick Martorelli: People can find me on Twitter. I am @nickmartorelli.

Burt Wolder: That's easy enough.

Scott Monty: The Priory Scholars? Facebook, Twitter, et cetera?

Nick Martorelli: Yep. We are on Facebook. We have a Twitter, @priorynyc. You

can also reach us via email at

Scott Monty: Excellent.

Burt Wolder: Very good. Professionally, we haven't talked at all about the
fact that you are a producer of audiobooks for a not-too-
shabby corporation. Is there any likelihood that you may
dramatize or produce something Sherlockian in the future?

Nick Martorelli: I actually do have a Sherlockian audiobook coming out. I

produced a book called Conan Doyle For the Defense by
Margalit Fox. She's a New York Times writer, and this is a non-
fiction account of Arthur Conan Doyle's investigation into the
Oscar Slater murder, well the murder for which Oscar Slater
was accused. It comes out at the end of June.

Burt Wolder: Who's the voice artist for that?

Nick Martorelli: Voice artist is a Scottish actor named Peter Forbes.

Burt Wolder: Excellent.

Scott Monty: We'll look forward to that. Nick, it's been a pleasure chatting
with you. We wish you lots of luck in everything that's coming
up, and we hope to see you around these parts again.

Nick Martorelli: Thank you so much, guys. I would love to come back. Thank
you for having me. [END SEGMENT]

Scott Monty: It was delightful to have Nick actually in front of the

microphone instead of just as our resident quizmaster here,
which we never talked about. We said we were gonna get to
that later in the show, but we got onto so many other topics
with him we didn't talk about Nick being the moving force
behind some of our quizzes in earlier episodes.

Burt Wolder: No, that's right. Those were great quizzes. Those pre-date the
Canonical Couplets, which we're now doing.

Scott Monty: Yes. That was the listener call in version, which just as a note,
as a producer it was a heck of a lot more difficult to schedule
those than it was to simply go with the Canonical Couplets.
We're grateful to Nick for his service, but we needed a full-
time schedule there.

Burt Wolder: It was a great conversation with Nick, and there you've got a
great profile of someone who ... It's a great example. For those
who are listening who are thinking about, I want to do a bit
more of some of this, here's Nick who based on that early
experience discovering Sherlock Holmes, is now engaged in a
scion, has been engaged in other things, but also it's just
leveraging a lot of his natural interests into exploring the cases
of Sherlock Holmes in really interesting ways.

Scott Monty: Yeah, no doubt. Are you heading to that Priory Scholars

Burt Wolder: No, I'm not going to be able to be ... It's in July. I think there's a
reason ... We've got some other commitment for that
weekend. I am going to the Epilogues of Sherlock Holmes this
coming weekend, where Nick is rumored that he's coming.

Scott Monty: Excellent. There's always something to do in the Northeast

area of the United States with regard to Sherlockians. It's a
veritable hot bed of activity. We should also remind folks if you
haven't been listening lately or if you haven't been tuning into
our Facebook page, we have been sharing information about
Holmes in the heartland. Of course, you may remember that
we had Rob Nunn on here to talk about The Criminal
Mastermind of Baker Street in Episode 142. Rob is also one of
the organizers behind Holmes in the Heartland, taking place in
early August down in St. Louis. We'll have a link to the event in
the show notes so you can check that out. It sounds like a
really amazing time. Really, what other Sherlockian event are
you going to get authentic barbecue at?

Scott Monty: This is barbecue for the mind rather than barbecue for the
stomach. It is, of course, Canonical Couplets to which I refer.
Yes, it's the quiz show that you've come to know and love here
on I Hear Of Sherlock Everywhere where we give you two
simple lines in rhyming form, and you need to figure out which
canonical story they refer to. If you recall, our last Canonical
Couplet that we gave on Episode 145 went like this: "Some
strange proceedings occupied the night / The colors were
distinctly green and white." Burt, do you know which story that
referred to?

Burt Wolder: Yes, I do, but I'm prevented from previous nondisclosure
agreements from telling you.

Scott Monty: I love the way you handled that. I can gladly fill in because I've
received the waiver. It is "The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge."

Burt Wolder: Yes, that's correct.

Scott Monty: Yeah, thank you very much. We had a whole bunch of folks
who were good enough to send in their responses. We need to
spin the random number generator barrel until we come up
with one of their names and it lands on ... Looks like it lands on
number 32. That corresponds with Kittie Kong. Kittie, thank
you for that winning entry. We will be in touch with you and
tell you how you claim your prize.

Scott Monty: If you're interested in playing this time around, here it comes,
the Canonical Couplet for Episode 146 goes like this: "When
noble dukes such doubtful aims pursue / They cause a
mercenary point of view." Tricky one there. If you think you
know the answer to this Canonical Couplet, send an email to with Canonical Couplet in the
subject line. We will choose from all the correct entries
randomly to see who the winner will be on Episode 147.
Thanks for playing, and good luck.

Burt Wolder: Boy, that was great. I always have trouble though when we
come up with things that reference dukes. I can't remember if
we're talking about Patty or her sister.

Scott Monty: They were cousins.

Burt Wolder: That's right.

Scott Monty: Identical cousins. I don't know how you get an identical cousin.

Burt Wolder: I think it's got to do with central casting, I think.

Scott Monty: Either central casting or somebody was a stand-in parent.

What do you call it? A surrogate. Something was going on in
that family that wasn't right. I don't know. Anyway, going on
here in our Sherlockian family, it's always right when you're
with us. We are looking forward to having you with us again at
the end of the month when 147 comes up. Who will our
mystery guest be? It's a mystery. That's kind of why we call
them a mystery guest. No mystery in that. Until then, the
mystery here is that I will still remain Scott Monty.

Burt Wolder: And I am trapped in being Burt Wolder.

Scott Monty: Come back, come back, come back.

Holmes & Watson: The game's afoot. I'm afraid within the pleasure of this
conversation I'm neglecting business of importance, which
awaits me elsewhere.

Announcer: Thank you for listening. Please be sure to join us again for the
next episode of I Hear Of Sherlock Everywhere, the first
podcast dedicated to Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes: Goodbye, and good luck, and believe me to be, my dear fellow,
very sincerely yours, Sherlock Holmes.

Nick Martorelli: Between you and me -- well I guess, alright. Nevermind.

Between the three of us, I was having a discussion at ASH
about what the tune to this song should be because it's a little
general, and I am dying to find the 60s sitcom theme to which
it fits. We'd sing the Gilligan's Island theme or something. I am
dying to find that, where it's like, are you guys singing ... Is that
set to the music of the A-Team? No, absolutely not. Don't ask.

Burt Wolder: Well, you've got to get the Star Trek theme. You must know
the story about that. Rodenbury wrote lyrics to it solely so he
could get the residual.

Nick Martorelli: Beyond the rim of the star light...

Burt Wolder: We smoke a thousand cigars

Scott Monty: Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars...