"Come Now, Gentlemen!"

The Baker Street Journal is the Sherlockian Bible — well, no, that's not right. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 56 short stories and four novels are the Bible, and the BSJ is the Talmud. Contributors dig into the "Canon," as Conan Doyle's works are called, and argue endlessly over minutiae such as the number of times Dr. Watson married, the real location of 221B Baker Street, and so on.

One such controversy involves an apparent mistake Conan Doyle made in "The Adventure of the Red Circle." In the story, an Italian sends a coded message via a simple substitution cipher. Since the Italian language doesn't use the letter J, though, some Sherlockians have argued that the message as presented in the story was incorrect.

In the September 1970 BSJ, I proposed what seemed to me to be an obvious explanation of the problem. My article, only a page and a half long, was my first "serious" piece of Sherlockian research. Two years later, I returned to things Holmesian and wrote something significantly longer.

Note: I no longer have a copy of the BSJ issue in which my article appeared. The image at the left is an artificially colored scan of a photocopy of the cover, which was sent to me by long-time Sherlockian Peter Blau.

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