?o what extent are the three/four stories we have investigated typical murder mystery or detective stories? The stories that we have looked at are all by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the adventure of “The Speckled Band”, “The Man with the Twisted Lip”, “A Scandal in Bohemia” and as an extra “The Final Problem”. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (22/05/1859 – 07/07/1930) was a Scottish author most noted for his stories about Sherlock Holmes however he was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays, romances, poetry, and non-fiction.
In The Speckled Band, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson help out Helen Stoner who lives with her stepfather Dr Roylott. Helen’s sister Julia has just died in suspicious circumstances. In The Man with the Twisted Lip, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson help out Mrs. St. Clair whose husband has recently disappeared, presumed murdered. However in a turn of events, Mrs. St. Clair is convinced that she had seen him in a window of a house. In A Scandal in Bohemia, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson come to the aid of the King of Bohemia.
A feisty ex-lover of the King has an uncompromising photo of them which she is threatening to publish on the King’s wedding day. In The Final Problem, we see the end of Sherlock Holmes as he takes his equal Dr Moriarty down over a cliff. There are things that mark out a novel in the detective genre, for example a typical setting. An old house, isolated and dilapidated is certainly a good setting for a good mystery. The isolation and no way of getting help adds an air of tension to the story. A good villain will help too. Typical ones are either very clever, rich men or nasty poor murderers.
The typical structure of the story is usually the detective listening to the problem (the beginning), then the search for clues (middle). Gradually more and more clues are revealed until the detective catches the villain (climax). With Sherlock Holmes stories, Sherlock usually reveals exactly how he caught the villain putting all the clues together for the readers to understand (end). I will also cover the narrative, presentation of detectives and historical and social issues at the time of the stories. All the novels we have studied have been written in 1st person narrative, however not by Sherlock Holmes but by Dr Watson.
This is not what I had expected but I think it works. Sherlock Holmes often confides in Dr Watson so we feel part of their detective team through Dr Watson. I think there could have been a disadvantage to it being narrated by Dr Watson as well. We may loose some drama as we can only see it through Dr Watson’s eyes and we only get access to his thoughts and feelings. Because Dr Watson isn’t as adept at solving crimes as Sherlock Holmes is Sherlock Holmes knows he has to explain his thought processes to Dr Watson. It is via this that he explains to the readers too, who are in a similar position to Dr Watson.
So as the clues are gathered, Sherlock Holmes leaves Dr Watson and the readers to try to figure it out on their own. As the clues build up we try harder and harder to work it out, but usually fail, as I found out in the The Speckled Band. Then finally Sherlock Holmes explains to us what went on and how he worked it. Dr Watson is very close to Sherlock Holmes and it is clear from the start that Dr Watson has great admiration for Sherlock Holmes and they both know each other thoroughly as this quote suggests, “To me, who knew his every mood and habit,” found in A Scandal in Bohemia.
Dr Watson is always able to tell what Sherlock Holmes feels like or at least able to make educated guesses. Also the way Dr Watson is portrayed shows that we can trust his narrative to be exactly as it happened. Because it is only a subjective account of events, then some people would have their doubts about whether to trust it. However, Dr Watson is a doctor which is and was a well respected position. Also as Sherlock Holmes says when asked if he could trust Dr Watson with “a matter of most extreme importance” by the King in A Scandal in Bohemia, “You may say before this gentleman anything which you may say to me”.
As readers we may only feel part of the story because we trust Dr Watson who can give us a window into Sherlock Holmes head. The setting in The Speckled Band is typical of this genre. Stoke Moran is described as ominous and threatening, Dr Watson comments on its “two curving wings, like the claws of a crab”. This simile evokes ideas of entrapment which an audience would find threatening. The animal theme runs throughout the entire story as they are used to frighten the reader by creating a powerful image. The alliteration is used to make the phrase much more powerful and make it stand out as how readers will remember Stoke Moran.