Reading Sherlock Holmes – The Engineer’s Thumb

Re-reading the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Let’s hack off some body parts in The Engineer’s Thumb.


Facts of the case: A man comes to Watson’s medical practice with a missing thumb. He then tells his story to Holmes and Watson. He’s an engineer hired to repair a machine in a remote mansion, only for his mysterious employers to trap him inside the machine in an attempt to kill him. He escapes, losing the thumb in the process, and wants Holmes’ help to retrace his steps back to the mansion.


Great detective: Holmes shows his cartography prowess when he finds the house’s location using only a circle on a map. Cue Phineas and Ferb’s “Triangulation” song.

Good doctor: This story is a popular trivia note, as Watson tells us it’s one of only two times that he was the one who brought the case to Holmes’ attention. The second is “the madness of Colonel Warburton,” which Doyle never followed up on, but many post-Doyle writers have taken a shot at.


Who’s at the door: Inspector Bradstreet of Scotland Yard makes a return appearance, again described as a likable, reliable cop.

Yes this is canon: Holmes enjoys reading the “agony column” in the morning newspaper. I have no idea.


Indubitably: This one is tricky, because most of it is the engineer telling his story, with Holmes and Watson doing very little. It’s still a great read, with a lot of mystery and danger, but some readers will wonder why it even has to be a Sherlock Holmes story.

Next week: Not the reality show.


Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. cine-high_v3


About Mac McEntire

Author of CINE HIGH.
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