Thursday, December 10, 2009

Short Stories Installment #5

This whole "Wednesday Supplement" thing seems to be gradually turning into a "Thursday Supplement" thing :/ I do have an excuse this week, though. I just finished the first draft of my first book/thesis! I'm a very busy guy, I swear. The upside of posting the supplement late, though, is that most of these stories were read in the last 24 hours, so they're fresh in my mind.

From The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez"

Synopsis—A young man is murdered in his employer's home, but the police cannot figure out how the murderer escaped the premises! Sherlock Holmes is called in to clear up the matter.
Comments—Not too shabby. There's a map, and as I've said before, maps and pictures usually make the stories more fun. Stanley Hopkins even shows up again. A pretty well-rounded tale.

"The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter"

Synopsis—The star player for the Cambridge rugby squad has gone missing! Can Sherlock Holmes find him before the big match against Oxford?
Comments—This story has a lot going for it. Holmes is put on the wrong trail several times, which always makes for a more interesting mystery. There's also a highly intelligent adversary, which Holmes doesn't come across often.

"The Adventure of the Abbey Grange"

Synopsis—A drunkard lord whom no one cares for very much is bludgeoned to death in his own home after an attempted robbery. Stanley Hopkins asks Holmes to consult on the case in order to bring the criminals to justice.
Comments—There's some heavy-handed misdirection, followed by a jealous lover, a confession that clears everything up at the end, blah blah blah. Over it.

The Adventure of the Second Stain"

Synopsis—Sensitive international documents are stolen from the home of a high-ranking government official. It's up to Sherlock Holmes to retrieve the papers before a global crisis emerges!
Comments—Very similar to "The Naval Treaty," but it's still a great story. Holmes experiences a fair bit of luck in this one, making it all the more enjoyable. A great way to end the book.

From His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge"

Synopsis—A young man comes to 221B Baker over a trifling matter, but when the police show up to take the man away, Holmes decides the case might be worth investigating after all.
Comments—There are some strange features regarding this story. First of all, it's inexplicably broken into two parts, each with their own title. Secondly, it begins with one person soliciting Holmes' aid, and ends up with a completely different mystery altogether. Thirdly, it introduces an Inspector Baynes from Surrey, who seems to be almost as good as Holmes himself, if not his equal.

"The Adventure of the Cardboard Box"

Synopsis—A lonely old maid receives a package containing two severed ears! She and the police assume that it's some kind of sick joke, but Sherlock Holmes suspects something more sinister.
Comments—It was alright. I enjoyed it, but it didn't really blow me away at all.

"The Adventure of the Red Circle"

Synopsis—A woman comes to Holmes complaining about a mysterious lodger who never leaves his room. Holmes turns the woman away, but later takes the case more seriously when her husband is abducted!
Comments—I guessed at a lot of what was to come in "The Red Circle," but so much more surprised me that I found myself really liking it by the end. This one was broken into two sections as well, but didn't include section titles. It's a little bizarre that Doyle shifted format so much, but whatever, it didn't change the story at all.

"The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans"

Synopsis—A young government clerk is found dead on the tracks of the London Underground. The case becomes an international scandal, however, when plans for a top-secret submarine are found on his corpse! Can Holmes find the missing pages of these plans before they're sold to the highest bidder?
Comments—I don't know what it is about international intrigue, but Doyle has a way of writing his strongest when the government is involved. This is essentially the same framework as "The Naval Treaty" and "The Second Stain," but it still holds so many singular events and original ideas that I can't help but be impressed. The reappearance of Sherlock's brother Mycroft is a fun aspect as well.

Make sure you check back in tomorrow when I review the third, and arguably most famous, Sherlock Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles!

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