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Welcome to The Once Lost Wanderer. The name is derived from two poems: Amazing Grace by reformed slave trader John Newton, and All That is Gold Does Not Glitter by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


A Sherlock Holmes short story

The Adventure of the Speckled Band is part of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes collection. Chronologically, it is Holmes’ fourth case, and the second in which Dr. Watson assists Holmes.

A distressed, and of course beautiful young woman, Helen Stoner, comes to Holmes early one morning. She confesses a vague feeling of dread and enlists Holmes’ assistance. She tells how her twin sister died of no apparent cause two years earlier. Her sister’s death was preceded by mysterious incidents in their step-father’s country manor. Now, with the advent of similar incidents, Helen is in fear for her own life.

I don’t suppose it will be a spoiler to reveal that a “speckled band” plays an important part in the mystery.

I am certain that I read this story many years ago, because I had a very specific idea of what the speckled band referred to, which proved to be correct. It will certainly mystify a reader unfamiliar with this tale.

Doyle thought The Adventure of the Speckled Band was his best Sherlock Holmes story. It is certainly the best I’ve read thus far, though I’m not very far into the canon. In the three stories that precede this, Holmes solves mysteries, but there is no criminal brought to justice, nor innocent who is saved. In this story a villain is indeed brought to justice and the terrified woman is saved from certain doom by Holmes' extraordinary powers of deduction.


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9 comments:

  1. Nice review.

    This was one of my favorite Holmes' mysteries. I've forgotten the endings to most of them so it must be time to read them again.

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    1. Holmes can be good for a reread...if you wait long enough to forget some of the details :)

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  2. If I ever read The Speckled Band, I don't remember. I did read The Hound of the Baskervilles not recently, which was not a bad Holmes and Watson story.

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    1. Unfortunately...I know the Hound of the Baskervilles from film. I would like to read that one without knowing the answer to the mystery. But I'll still get to it eventually.

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  3. One of my favorite SH stories--a classic closed door mystery--and I remember being so impressed by Conan Doyle's mastery of his craft the first time I read this. Great review.

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    1. Yeah...he seems to know what he's doing :)

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  4. This is one of the first Holmes stories I ever read, and I still absolutely love it. So twisty and scary and awesome. I think the moment when Holmes unbent the poker might the moment I decided I wanted to be him.

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    1. It was by the best I've read. I'm enjoying my slow stroll through the complete Sherlock Holmes.

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    2. A slow stroll is a lovely way to enjoy them!

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