Well, as my last blog contained details of the stories which came out with the highest scores at the end of 56 Stories in 56 Days, it seems only fair to now look at those which scored the least out of ten.
A Scandal in Bohemia – 5
The Five Orange Pips – 5
Gloria Scott – 5
Naval Treaty – 5
Wisteria Lodge – 4
Veiled Lodger – 5
I have made my thoughts on Scandal quite clear in previous blogs so it was no surprise that it appeared on this list. I think there is too much hype about the relationship between Holmes and Irene Adler, and indeed about Miss Adler herself. She didn’t exactly outwit Holmes in a clever and spectacular fashion, she simply realised what he was trying to do, took the incriminating photo and ran away. Hardly a fascinating game of cat-and-mouse in my opinion. And as for romantic love, the fact that she happily marries someone else suggests that she did not fall in love with Holmes. Watson makes it clear that Holmes did not have sentimental feelings towards her either. Therefore, all you are left with is a simple story in which Holmes doesn’t really solve anything.
I think this sums up pretty well what the issue is with certain stories for me, I like to see Holmes solve things, save the day. In the Orange Pips, all Holmes’ deductions come to nothing because he doesn’t save young Openshaw’s life and though he cleverly identifies the culprits he is unable to bring them to justice because their ship sinks and they die at sea. It is the same in the Gloria Scott, old Mr Trevor dies needlessly and the truth about his past comes out in a letter – not due to anything which Holmes does. In the Veiled Lodger Holmes simply lends his ear to a distressed woman who wants to make a confession. No deduction or solving a difficult crime, no bringing light into darkness – just listening to a sad tale of past woes.
So what about the Naval Treaty, I hear you ask? Yes, I admit that it doesn’t exactly fit the pattern and Holmes does solve the case, but it’s just too long and complicated for something which is meant to be a short story – in my opinion at least. Same with Wisteria Lodge – this story is so complicated that it has to be split into two parts, and also seems too far-fetched. I like to be able to believe in the story and prefer the simpler, more small-scale adventures. The back-story given in the Gloria Scott is also difficult to believe in.
So, in summary, I don’t like it when the short stories act like complicated novels, the heroine acts like something she’s not, Holmes fails to save the day and the truth comes out all by itself. Well, when I say ‘don’t like’, what I mean is ‘like less’ than other Holmes stories which give more satisfying examples of Holmes’ abilities, as well as insight into his character and relationship with Watson. I ‘like’ all the stories, just some a lot more than others.
To read a break-down of my scores and how they compare to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s top twelve stories, read this fascinating article by John Watson.
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