Looking to "The Yellow Face" for this Thursday nights discussion at the library's Sherlock Holmes Story Society, and realizing there's something important we don't usually look at in this case.
Grant Munro has no friends.
When asked if he came for the services of a consulting detective, Munro says, "Not only that. I want your opinion as a judicious man."
He tells Sherlock Holmes a long, long story about his relationship worries. Holmes gives a him the usual, "Get back to me with more info," and Grant Munro heads on his way. When they catch up to him, he's gathered the resolve to solve his little mystery the old-fashioned way: Just charging in and asking for answers.
A friend of mine was telling me recently another story he dislikes because Sherlock Holmes doesn't really do anything. And this is certainly another one. Sure, Holmes puts on a good show for Watson at the start, and theorizes a bit, but as far as Grant Munro is concerned?
Had Munro just gone down to the local pub for a few pints with his mates, drank enough liquid courage to do the same thing he eventually did, then had his drinking buddies take a stroll to the neighboring cottage with him . . . well, basically, you have the same story.
There aren't many cases in Watson's records where a couple of barflies could obtain the same result as Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson. But there are a few.
Grant Munro just needed some friends. And when you think about it, there were quite a few notable folk who came to Sherlock Holmes because they had no one else. The future Mrs. Watson, Mary Morstan, for one. In the absence of male relatives, she came to the detective and the doctor to accompany her on a questionable errand.
When Christopher Morley subtitled his collection of Holmes stories "A Textbook of Friendship," we tend to think he was just talking about Dr. Watson. But given what we see in Grant Munro, perhaps Sherlock Holmes was a friend to many more than just his room-mate. Maybe not the sort of friend most of us picture, but as a sort of last resort friend when no other is at hand.
And who else is available at those times but the guy who isn't out socializing already.
A guy like Sherlock Holmes.