Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Jefferson Hope Murder

"I assure you, Holmes, that I marvel at the means by which you obtain your results in this case, even more than I did in the Jefferson Hope Murder.""
-- John H. Watson, M.D. in The Sign of the Four

Time to listen to the 'member-berries for a moment (with all apologies to South Park):

'member when Jefferson Hope made those two guys poison themselves?

'member when Jefferson Hope died in jail from a "burst aneurism?"

'member how Dr. Watson wrote of hearing a "dull humming and buzzing noise" in Jefferson Hope's chest which he diagnosed as an aortic aneurysm?

So Jefferson Hope murdered two men. And Dr. Watson diagnosed an aneurysm from a very weird symptom, unlike what would be expected from the condition. And then Jefferson Hope died.

The phrase the "Jefferson Hope Murder," with its definitely singular tense, could suddenly become a point of questioning to a strict interpreter of the Canon, when those facts are considered. And a newcomer to the Canon, entering by way of The Sign of the Four could easily mistake Jefferson Hope for the victim in such a description, rather than the criminal.

And maybe he was, after all.

I mean, are we to believe that Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss made up their . . . [OLD SPOILER ALERT!] . . . ending to BBC Sherlock's "A Study in Pink," where John Watson murders Jeff Hope completely out of the blue?

As it was, this old man with the fragile "aortic aneurysm" busts half-way out a window and fights off four men "again and again" while bound in handcuffs, only being brought down after being choked out with his own neck-tie. And even then, his four captors have to each pin a hand or foot to the floor to keep him secured. (Though, after they "had pinioned his feet as well as his hands," they all "rose to our feet breathless and panting. So how did they "pinion" him? Nail him to the floor?)

There is so much that doesn't make sense in the capture of Jefferson Hope, that one has to be a little suspicious of our only witness testimony. Especially when one considers the papers found in the belongings of that same witness's late literary agent that told a very different story, in which Jefferson Hope died in a different city, a city where John H. Watson was also present, even though it was a continent and an ocean away.  

There's a mystery to "the Jefferson Hope Murder" that still needs solving, I think. Someone might want to work on that.

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