Saturday, January 31, 2015

The snow day story.

Of all the Sherlock Holmes stories, "The Blue Carbuncle" is probably the one most associated with a particular season. And yet, as Christopher Morley once pronounced in the first line of his introduction to that tale, "Surely one of the most unusual things in the world: a Christmas Story without slush." Not only without slush . . . without snow, as well.

Oh, it's bitter cold, and there's bundling up, but snow? 

No, if you want snow, you have to go to but one story in the  Canon of Sherlock Holmes: "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet." From the fourth sentence: "It was a bright, crisp February morning, and the snow of the day before still lay deep upon the ground, shimmering brightly in the wintry sun," it's all about the snow.

The hansom cabs are driving more slowly through the snow. Sherlock Holmes takes care to knock the snow off his shoes over the client's doormat, only to get them more covered in the stuff when he's out looking for clues. And those clues? Is there a better time for finding tracks that tell a story than after a fresh snow? And Sherlock Holmes knows exactly how to read that story, embossed in that cold, white page.

As we sled into February with snow on the mind of much of America, there could be no better time to warm up that mug of hot cocoa and sit down with the case that came four stories after our non-Christmas-y Christmas story, "Blue Carbuncle." Is it a coincidence that "Beryl Coronet" has the same initials as that other story of the winter season?

1 comment:

  1. Hah! DH and I just watched Douglas Wilmer's Holmes poking through the mud for clues in The Beryl Coronet (or, The High Tensile Steel Crown); guess Auntie Beeb couldn't afford snow back then. :-)