Reading Sherlock Holmes – The Gloria Scott

Re-reading the original Sherlock Holmes stories. If you go in purely chronological order, The Gloria Scott comes first, because it’s a flashback to Sherlock’s youth. Isn’t he cute?


Facts of the case: Holmes tells Watson a story from his college days. Young Holmes once visited a friend’s family and figured out a hidden message in a letter to the friend’s dad. This uncovered a blackmail plot, and a story of treachery and murder at sea.

Great detective: The big deal about this story is that this is when Holmes figured out that his “hobby” of deduction could be turned into a profession. It’s not quite enough to call this an origin story, but it is a rare glimpse into his past.


Good doctor: Watson’s only role in this story is to continue the meta-narrative that it’s him and not Arthur Conan Doyle who is writing these stories. Holmes tells him this story so he’ll have something to write about.

Action hero: Holmes doesn’t get in on the action, but we do get fights, murders and explosions when we learn about what happened on this ship.

Yes this is canon: We learn that Holmes only spent two years in college, studying chemistry. His only friend during this time was Victor Trevor, who I guess was a proto-Watson.


Indubitably: Here we have a Sherlock Holmes story that Holmes is barely in. The high seas adventure stuff is beautifully written, but it feels separate from the usual Holmes and Watson mystery goodness.

Next week: Hey, where’s Missy?


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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