My 21st Resolution was to read 20 more Sherlock stories. I finished that with “The Red Cicle” and went beyond it with “The Dying Detective.” Resolution 22 will be to read the rest of Sherluck stories and four others about Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, or Father Brown.

“The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax” is one of Doyle’s most twisting mysteries. It begins with Sherlock too busy to leave the house so he sends Watson off to investigate.

Watson is beset from all sides and eventually is almost strangled by a suspect. He is saved at the last second by a disguised Holmes who sneers at Watson’s findings.

After more twists, Sherlock suspects the missing woman is being hidden in a coffin. He forces it open. Oops, it’s just an old maid. The new suspect gives Sherlock the business over his blunder.

All seems lost until Sherlock attacks the coffin once more and finds Lady Carfax in a secret chamber.

Any Arrests? The police have a warrant for the criminals but they appear to have got away. As Holmes says, “The birds have flown.”

Arrest Record: 14-28.

Advertisements
Posted by: Mark | October 15, 2019

Sherlock Review–The Adventure of the Dying Detective

This story highlights the weaknesses of stories in a series, as opposed to stand-alone works: you know the hero can’t die, especially if it’s story 41 of 56.

The image of Holmes dying is powerful. Of course, it would be more intense if Holmes hadn’t died before in “The Final Problem,” but Holmes withering away in bed is striking.

However, I can’t believe that any reader wouldn’t immediately guess 1) Holmes just thinks he’s dying, 2) A miracle cure will be found before the third act, or, most probably, 3) he’s faking it.

At first I thought it was all an act but I wondered if Holmes would be so callous. He faked his death and let Watson twist in the wind for three years. Would he do it again?

After sneering at Watson’s value as a doctor, even in being able to provide a referral, Holmes sent Watson to visit another jerk.

The jerk agrees to visit Holmes but not before Watson beats him there and is ordered to conceal himself.

The jerk confesses to giving the deadly disease to Holmes through a booby-trapped device sent through the mail, to have killing his nephew the same way, and is tricked into signaling the police to burst into the room to arrest him.

Jerkie says that the confession is just a case of “he said, he said,” until Warson emrges. (Wouldn’t a policeman or an impartial witness be a better choice than Watson? Was it all just an excuse to abuse him?)

Any Arrests? Yes, the jerk might beat the charge with a good lawyer but at least Holmes gets him off the streets for a while.

Arrest Record: 14-27.

Posted by: Mark | October 15, 2019

No Fish

I’m back at a doctor’s office that helped me formulate my theory that waiting rooms without fish tanks take longer than ones that do.

Needless to say, this one does not have any fish.

I was about to make a triumphant post about finishing my resolution to read another 20 Sherlock Holmes stories but I realized that I’d skipped one. Not just any one–one with the second appearance of Mycroft Holmes, a murder with a man’s head getting squashed like a grape, and two arrests!

You know Mycroft only breaks his routine in timea of extreme difficulties. This time a seeming traitor was murdered by skull smashing and several pages of plans for a new submarine are missing.

British top secret documents were not particularly well guarded. Sherlock recovered classified material almost as often as he was called in to investigate individuals with slight eccentricities.

Sherlock deduced that the polices’ theory of the murder was dead wrong and followed up by capturing first one then another spy.

The Queen even gave Sherlock a valuable trinket. What elae would you give the guy?

Any Arrests? Yes! Two arrests in one story. That’s the equivalent of Hercule Poirot arresting everyone in Manchester or Mike Hammer shooting everybody in Tallahassee.

Arrest Record: 13-27

Posted by: Mark | October 14, 2019

Resolution Update 40

Going to two different doctors thia week. I guess that’s good.
Read More…

Posted by: Mark | October 13, 2019

Sherlock Review–The Adventure of the Red Circle

In “The Five Orange Pips,” Sherlock Holmes faced the Klan.

In “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons,” Holmes battled the Mafia.

In “The Final Problem,” Holmes took down Professor Moriarty’s network of crime.

In “The Adventure of the Red Circle,” he met the Red Circle.

It’s not a bad story but the organization didn’t come across with the same impact as the others.

As often in Sherlock’s cases somebody notices something slightly unusual (“Copper Beeches,” “The Resident Patient”). In this story, a landlady confronts Sherlock about a tenant who pays extra rent money, on time, without complaint, or causing problems. However, because the tenant is shy and doesn’t interact with others, the landlady insists that Sherlock investigate. Property owners must have an easy time in the Sherlock-universe.

It turns out that a young couple are on the run from the deadly Red Circle. Finally the husband kills the Circle’s chief assassin and are free (so the notorious Red Circle gives up if one of their hired guns is beat? I could make a criminal gang tougher than that!)

Any Arrests? Inspector Gregson decides to take the couple in for questioning but doesn’t think he’ll file charges.

Arrest Record: 12-27.

Posted by: Mark | October 12, 2019

Sherlock Review–The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge

I’m not even going to mention that while Sherlock deduced the solution to the mystery of this story, his efforts didn’t lead to any arrests. Actually I will but not withe the intensity of the last two stories.

What struck me the most about this story is that it contradicts a point made in A Study in Scarlet, not a point that Holmes said or Doyle wrote, but something in the preface.

I remember very little of A Study in Scarlet but I vividly remember the preface written by Ed McBain, best known for his police procedurals.

McBain pointed out that Sherlock perpetuated the mystery trope of a brilliant private detective vs. dimwitted police (Poe actually started it long before Sherlock was ever created).

Outsmarting the police appeals not only to criminals but average citizens who worry about speed traps and parking tickets. Idiot police in a mystery story gives even law-abiding readers a fulfilled fantasy.

(For all McBain complaints, his most popular series, The 87th Precinct, had more incompetent cops than any Sherlock story. I can’t think of any police procedural that didn’t have at least one bad cop.)

In this story, Inspector Baynes comes across as just as good a detective as Sherlock. Even when Baynes seems to make a mistake, he is later proved right.

Baynes had arrested a huge freak to trick the true criminal into dropping his guard. How huge was this guy? Here’s a direct quote: “A number twelve shoe, I should say. If he was on the same scale as his foot he must certainly have been a giant.”

Have shoe sizes changed? Because I wear size 14.

Any Arrests? Besides Bigfoot, no. The culprits were a deposed Latin American dictator and his goons. They escaped but were apparently murdered later.

Arrest Record: 12-26.

Posted by: Mark | October 11, 2019

Sherlock Review–The Second Stain

I’ll cut right to the chase with this one. After Sherlock died in his battle with Moriarty, he returned as a detective tougher than before. His arrest rate shot up compared to his pre-death numbers. However, this wore off quickly.

SPOILER ALERT FOR 115-YEAR-OLD STORY:

This, like the last one, was a well-written mystery. It’s become iconic to the point that dozens of other mystery writers copied its twists and turns.

I’ll leave those for readers to discover on their own. What disturbed me is that the impetus of this case was stolen military documents, sensitive enough that they might cause a war.

There’s an elaborate chain of events after this, which I will reiterate, was well-written and entertaining. It was like a master display of dominos with one knocking over thousands. I have great admiration for Doyle as a writer.

However, after Holmes’ determined the thief only took the document due to blackmail, he slipped it back into the container where it had originally been kept, convincing authorities that it was there all along.

Okay, I’m sympathetic to the blackmail victim but she almost sparked a war, and considering when it was written, not just any war, but the Great World War.

Should she have got off Scot-free? Did Holmes just assume war was inevitable? Did Doyle just assume only lower classes would be affected (which didn’t turn out to be true at all)?

I don’t know. Again, this is a fine mystery but with a troubling aftermath.

Any Arrests? Nope. As far as the authorities know, no crime was committed, just sloppy filing.

Arrest Record: 12-25.

Posted by: Mark | October 10, 2019

Sherlock Review–The Adventure of Abbey Grange

This was a decent mystery but the ending is jaw-dropping. I’ve been keeping a tally about Holmes’ arrest record, but this story practically flaunts the fact that while Sherlock may determine a killer’s identity, he doesn’t do much about getting them behind bars.

After investigating an apparent robbery turned murder, Sherlock notices discrepancies that the police overlooked. It’s a great set up but I’m going to skip over it because the ending floored me so much.

SPOILER ALERT FOR A STORY WRITTEN IN 1904!

The criminal gang that the police initially thought committed the crime turn out to be in New York, meaning the wife clearly lied about their involvement. Sherlock tracks down a sailor known as Captain Croker who actually did the killing. Croker claims that he was in love with the murder victim’s wife, had a secret rendezvous with her, and killed the husband in self-defense (the guilt would cause his descendants to mutate into little green men by year 3000).

Any Arrests? Well, Croker flat out admitted that he’d snuck into the victim’s house to meet the victim’s wife whom he loved and then killed him. So naturally Sherlock had him arrested. No, not really–Sherlock offered to give him 24 hours to flee the country before calling the cops.

Croker flat out refused so Sherlock decided to act as the judge and Watson as the jury and they elected to let him go.

Hercule Poirot would have said something sad as the police took Croker away. Sam Spade would have punched Croker out and told the wife to wait for him while he served his sentence. Mike Hammer would have shot everyone in the immediate vicinity.

Sherlock let him walk. I have to say that while his deductive skills impress me, his judgement does not.

Arrest Record: 12-24.

My initial problem with this story was not knowing what a three quarter was. It turns out to be a position in rugby, along the lines of a quarter- or halfback in football.

I had a deeper problem that didn’t come up until the end.

The mystery involved a missing athlete. He was the heir to a rich Scottish cheapskate which could be considered an ethnic stereotype but, after Scrooge McDuck, I can let it slide.

Sherlock resorted to using a dog to follow his scent to solve the case (in full disclosure, it was actually more complicated than that but for the sake of brevity, I’m keeping it short).

The missing athlete was revealed to have been secretly married and was at the side of his dying wife. She was explicitly described as intelligent and beautiful but was of the lower class so she had to be hidden.

This has many unfortunate connotations, hiding non-hetrosexual romances being the most obvious. I can understand that in 1905, hiding an unconventional marriage would save you from prison but the idea doesn’t age well. Again, I don’t blame Doyle for the issues of his day, but this doesn’t make for my favorite story.

Any Arrests? Nope. No actual crime took place so no arrests followed.

Arrest Record: 12-23.

Older Posts »

Categories