Boscombe Valley Mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle

In my last review A Case Of Identity I acclaimed that I have stopped expecting murder mysteries from Doyle and am enjoying the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as pure detective fiction.

But it seems Arthur is hell bent on making my perspective change at every turn as the very next story The Boscombe Valley Mystery, turned out to be a full blown murder mystery.

sherlock-holmes Apparently, a man named McCarthy has been killed in broad daylight in the sleepy little province of Boscombe and the accused is none other than his own son! Detective Lestrade considers the case to be an open and shut one and has already arrested Junior McCarthy.

But, the mystery is much deeper than it looks at first instance as the daughter of a worthy man Turner gets involved in the case and pleads Sherlock to save her innocent childhood friend. One thing leads to another and pretty soon Holmes digs out the not-so-good past of all the men involved. And within the span of just 25 pages, an awesome murder mystery unfolds.

Needless to say, I loved the story. It was fast paced, mysterious and hugely entertaining, with Holmes giving subtle push at the right time.

The story began in a slightly unusual way as this time Sherlock specifically invites Watson to accompany him to the murder site, exhibiting the level of trust and importance Watson now enjoys. There was also a small cameo by Watson’s wife, presumably Miss Morstan of Sign of Four, giving continuity to the Collection of Sherlock Holmes.

Though, as usual it was Sherlock Holmes who stole the limelight with his impeccable observation skills. He deduced the location of Watson’s bedroom window on the basis of his shaving skills alone! Every time I think that now I have nailed Holmes techniques, he stumps me with yet another card and I fall once again in love with his genius, admiring his small talk that looks incoherent but is laden with deep meanings.

But, I really find Holmes’ sympathies with wayward criminals a bit shocking. Be it in Sign of Four or in Boscombe Valley Mystery, his main convicts have a murky past and yet Sherlock turns a blind eye to their flaws, tries to justify their actions and even helps them in the best way possible. May be, in 19th Century, the misadventures in foreign land, especially those that made the perpetrators rich, were readily overlooked. But, in today’s time I feel that Doyle’s bias towards the criminals is slightly over the top.

Yet, at the end of the day, Boscombe Valley Mystery is an enjoyable read. Another well executed short story in Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.


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