Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Valley of Fraud

 The Valley of Fear is a different tale. 

First, there's the thing where Moriarty seems to have been tacked on in a wraparound to the main story.

Second, there's Sherlock Holmes, who, even though he supposedly knows Moriarty is involved, acts like he's on vacation this entire case, picking up tourist brochures, eating heartily at high tea. He's having a fine old time.

And third, there's this thing Mary O'Reilly brought up at tonight's meeting of our local Peoria discussion group: A guy pops out of a wall to hand Dr. Watson the manuscript of his novelette.

With that little bit of framing, the reality of this case finally occurred to me: That manuscript moment was the whole point of this Birlstone Manor House stage play.

"A real downright shorter, Mr. MacDonald!" the local goober proclaims to the three men from London, which is a weird way to describe a gruesome murder, but actually exactly the way a local goober would describe the latest local theatrical production.

Sherlock Holmes, as uncharacteristic in his pace of investigation as all else, seems to take his time in getting to the "dead" body and remarks, "Dear me! These injuries are really apalling," in the manner one would in playing "let's pretend" with a child.

Is it possible that this entire case was a set-up just so that a former Pinkerton who was a friend to Sherlock Holmes, but unknown to Watson, could sell Watson on his adventure manuscript?

There's just enough off in this tale to bear some consideration that way -- and, after all, Watson does seem to have bought into the story and published the thing, when all was said and done. And Watson even used John Douglas's title, which he tells Watson when he hands him the manuscript.

As usual, story discussion night at the library has given me an entirely new perspective on one of Watson's tales. And this time, a bit of a different view of Watson, as well.


  1. I am genuinely delighted you're prescribing Amanda's wonderful humor and observations to me, but alas - the manuscript-wall-pitch commentary was from Amanda!

    - Mary

    1. Wait . . . you're . . . Amanda's the redhead with the puppets, right? I could have sworn it was you that said, it Mary!