Saturday, June 7, 2014

Summer of Sherlock: The Boscombe Valley Mystery

Reading the summer cases of Sherlock Holmes on the days they began does definitely gives them a different light. And so far, ti seems to be the light of a summer getaway quite a bit.

Even "The Adventure of the Boscombe Valley Mystery," beginning with Watson and his wife at home, and not at 221B Baker Street, starts with the good doctor's wife actually telling him he's pale and needs to take a little vacation. And it doesn't seem like you have to tell Watson twice when it's time to go -- he's very swift at packing.

It's interesting to me that Holmes doesn't start talking to Watson right away on this case. He's wrapped up in his thoughts and research early on the train ride, and Watson is perfectly comfortable with the silence. Usually Holmes has explained the current case to his friend at his first participation, but this time he's still doing his initial research . . . and Watson is okay to let him do that. That "grand gift of silence" we hear of elsewhere.

The case they head out for is an actual murder mystery, one that Inspector Lestrade has been brought in on, and a lovely bookend to "Six Napoleons," as, seemingly, the second time Watson has been with Holmes on a case with Lestrade. (Note to self: re-examine the chronology of cases with Lestrade's participation in mind some time.) While "Six Napoleons" is so much later that a friendship has built up between the three men, "Boscombe Valley" is still a time for first impressions.

Lestrade seems a little more cool in a rural setting somehow, with his leather leggings and dustcoat, having a carriage ordered while he sits with a cup of tea. One doesn't often picture Victorian Lestrade as a handsome, cool dude, but the guy we meet in this case could certainly be cast that way.

"Still, of course, one can't refuse a lady . . ." Lestrade says. Yeah, I think he could be cast as as a fan favorite.

The "vacation" aspect of this case remains prevalent, as Watson winds up doing a little tourist wandering on his own, and even tries to read a novel at one point. It must not be a very good novel, of course, as it doesn't hold his attention, but we still have to wonder what it was. Probably not by Clark Russell, whose work Watson enjoys on another occasion.

"The Adventure of Boscombe Valley" offers its share of little Sherlockian treats, to be sure, but this being a summer Saturday with its own distractions, like Watson, I'm going to wander away from my reading for other adventures.

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