Re-reading the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Holmes is burning down the house in The Norwood Builder.
Facts of the case: A young man named McFarlane shows up at Holmes’ door, on the run from police after having been accused of arson and murder. The cops haul him away, but Holmes and Watson explore the crime scene to continue the investigation.
Great detective: Holmes says the crime rate has risen during his years away, and he reads the crime stories in the newspaper looking for patterns in them all.
Good doctor: Watsons sells off his medical practice and moves back in with Holmes, bringing the characters back to “roommates” status. Then we learn that the man who bought Watson’s practice is distant relative of Holmes, who used Holmes’ money to make the purchase. Not sure what to make of that.
Who’s at the door: Lestrade is all over this story, having come up with an airtight case against McFarlane. Holmes admits as much, but he investigates anyway, insisting that there’s always another theory. Still, Lestrade is written as being a lot smarter and more competent than in the early stories, where he was portrayed as thuggish and dumb.
Action hero: Holmes starts a massive fire to lure the culprit out of hiding, complete with recruiting Watson and Lestrade to shout “Fire!” at the tops of their lungs.
Yes this is canon: A major plot point has to do with Holmes making a copy of a fingerprint at the scene of the crime. Arthur Conan Doyle is often credited with coming up with the idea of fingerprinting thanks to this story and others like it. Whether that’s true is open to debate, but he certainly popularized the idea thanks to Sherlock Holmes’ popularity.
Indubitably: My favorite Holmes stories are the ones where he gets out of the house and exploring the city, interacting with colorful characters, and that’s this one all over. It’s a fun romp.
Next week: It’s rainin’ men!
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