This past Thursday, a stalwart band of summer Sherlockians met for our monthly library discussion of a Watsonian tale, and as always a delightful time was had by all. Inquiring minds digging deep into a case's details always provides many a reward, new takes and surprising info abound. This time, however, our tale was "The Red Circle," and as we dove into the depths of that record of crime and vengeance, matters just got darker and darker.
There is a lot at the end of "Red Circle" that remains unexplained, and Sherlock Holmes does not at all seem interested in explaining it.
We know the monster Giuseppe Gorgiano was working with a team, as evidenced by the two men who kidnapped Mr. Warren and then released him. We know that Black Gorgiano went into the vacant house, was stabbed to death, and Gregson and Leverton saw three men leave the house after Gorgiano went in. We know that all concerned were part of a larger criminal organization, and plainly, some members of that group were still roaming free at story's end, but now knew where Emilia Lucca was.
Gregson says he is taking Emilia Lucca to see his chief, and then, apparently, turn her loose on London streets. We don't know what happened to her husband Gennaro, even though Emilia is insanely positive about his fate. I say "insanely" because this was a woman who was just dancing around a bloody corpse a few minutes earlier.
Holmes and Watson, of course, just ditch the whole scene and head to Covent Garden for a show, and once can easily imagine some mid-credits scene in an adapted version where their happy enjoyment of a concert is intercut with scenes of Emilia Lucca back on the streets and being murdered by another Red Circle killer while Wagnerian music from the concert plays over it.
When all was said and done, there was talk of yet another podcast (not by me, definitely) in which the hosts discuss the darker implications of every Sherlock Holmes story's end. So many have those vague Watsonian tales of "it seems like justice happened, but nobody really knows" that it wasn't that hard to imagine.
As dark as things have seemed in the world lately, a dark take on the Canon would not seem entirely out of place. But would it help our mental state?
Well, crazy Emilia seemed happy enough for a bit there. Who knows?