Re-reading the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Reader opinions on The Yellow Face have been divided over the years. Although the story is morally ambiguous, it provides a lot of insight to our detective hero.
Facts of the case: A man comes to Holmes asking for help. He says his wife has been acting strangely, and there are strangers in a nearby cottage watching him at night.
Great detective: Pop culture almost always depicts Holmes with a pipe, and in this story he gives a big speech about the importance of a man’s pipe (heh). Each pipe, he says, is unique to each man.
Good doctor: Watson begins with the story with him and Holmes taking a two-hour walk through the park. He says he and Holmes are so close that they were able to walk in silence, without need for a lot of chitchat.
Who’s at the door: Again we see that Holmes employs a pageboy to answer the door for him. This time, the kid gets some dialogue, describing a visitor who had come and gone while Holmes was out.
Action hero: We’re told that Holmes never exercises for the sake of exercise, but only when it relates to his crimefighting. Later, Holmes, Watson, and their client sneak out at night to break into the cabin.
Yes this is canon: This story is quite the trivia note, in that Holmes is… wrong! He deduces that this is a blackmail case, when it turns out to be something else entirely. Despite Holmes’ mistake, however, the truth still comes out.
Indubitably: The big plot twist involves in this story has to do with a mixed-race marriage, and the internet is overflowing with debates on whether Doyle handled this tastefully or offensively. I’ll leave you to decide that for yourself, and instead focus on how this one reveals new sides to Holmes’ character. That alone makes it a great read.
Next week: Well played, clerks.
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