The Valley of Fear

The Valley of Fear  -  Arthur Conan Doyle

I'm not sure what I was expecting, with the exception of
'The Hound of the Baskervilles', the Holmes novels have left me cold and I grow increasingly disenchanted with the short stories. The setup is Holmes and Watson trekking up North to solve a murder that was predicted by some information given out by an informant of Holmes' and is connected to Moriarty's web of crime.

Solving the case rather quickly, Holmes hears the history of a man, Douglas, who becomes involved with a league of criminals holding an entire region in a grip of fear. His insinuation into the high leadership of the group is a bore, the woman is a prop with a modestly becoming skirt, and though there is a well done surprise reveal by the end, it wasn't enough to satisfy me. There were some interesting early 20th century comments on labor unions.

Sherlock Holmes is most interesting when Watson is allowed a free hand to set the tone and pacing of the his deductions. Yes, Doyle wrote it all anyway, but it was only in 'Baskerville' through Watson's fancies that Doyle's clever mechanics were elevated into something to treasure. And I don't want to read a Holmes novel where there's only a mini-mystery at the beginning and a long yarn from somebody else to fill out the rest. There is better plotting and better mysteries, even better curmudgeon geniuses available these days. If the style of the writing is no good, what's the point?

Sherlock Holmes


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'Complete Novels and Stories, Volume II'