Re-reading the original Sherlock Holmes stories. The Five Orange Pips refers to orange seeds, not military insignia. Gladys Knight is nowhere to be found. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about the story itself.
Facts of the case: A young man contacts Holmes and Watson to investigate the murder of his uncle, a landowner who earned a great fortune in America years earlier. The case leads to more murders, and a conspiracy dating back to the American Civil War.
Great detective: Watson makes a list of what Holmes is and isn’t good at. He’s good at geology, chemistry, anatomy, literature, crime records, violin, boxing, swordsmanship, and “self-poisoning.” He’s bad at philosophy, astronomy, and politics. That last bit is interesting, because post-Civil War politics figure in this story’s plot.
Good doctor: Watson enjoys reading the works of Clark Russell, a real-life author who wrote sea-based adventure novels.
Who’s at the door: Holmes has a maid who serves him his breakfast. It starts to feel like he has an entire staff of household servants.
Action hero: When the murders escalate, Holmes admits his pride is wounded, and he plots deadly revenge. Then, the murderers are lost at sea before Holmes can act. So… are we to assume God enacted justice?
Yes, this is canon: Although this is only the seventh published story, in 1891, we’re told that Watson and Holmes have been working cases together since 1882, having solved hundreds of mysteries we’re not privy to.
Indubitably: Here we have another story in which our heroes don’t leave Baker Street, and Holmes doesn’t confront the villain at the end. I guess it’s supposed to be enough that he figured out what was going on. The U.S. Civil War stuff is awkward from a modern-day perspective. The story’s saving grace is Watson’s lengthy description of his friendship with Holmes.
Next week: Don’t give me no lip.
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