Friday, July 22, 2011

The Valley of Fear (Book)

An Encrypted Message. A Murder. A Brand on a Wrist. A Moat. A Missing Dumb-bell. A Missing Wedding Ring. An Old Secret. An Abandoned Bicycle. The Order of Freemen. The Pinkertons.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Valley of Fear was first published in book form in 1915 and is his last Sherlock Holmes novel. Like A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four, it has two main parts: the Sherlock Holmes mystery and the backstory that describes the motive for the murder. The Sherlock Holmes section was fun to read because it contains so many details that may or may not be relevant and the story has a nice twist. The backstory is almost equally interesting, and part of me likes it because it is such a guy’s story.

Briefly, Sherlock Holmes receives an encrypted message. Shortly after he deciphers it, a detective comes to his door with news of a murder, confirming what was in the note. The detective explain that there is something strange about the murder, and as Holmes and Watson investigate, it gets stranger still. The backstory takes place in America and involves what I would describe as a corrupt labor union.

After The Hounds of the Baskervilles, The Valley of Fear is a bit of a let down, although it is still an interesting story. Most of the Sherlock Holmes saga is told in the 56 short stories of the series. I feel that I have just begun to catch a glimpse of the character of Holmes.

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