Short Stories Challenge – The Red-Headed League by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Published December 21, 2013 by bibliobeth


What’s The Red-Headed League all about?:

In The Redheaded League, Holmes is engaged upon two seemingly unrelated cases, a daring bank robbery and the disappearance of a pawnbroker’s assistant. Using minute details of the small mystery, he is able to solve the larger one.

What did I think?:

This is the second Sherlock Holmes story in Doyle’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, focusing on a mysterious case where a gentleman comes begging for Holmes’ assistance after his assistant has disappeared. As Holmes digs a bit deeper, he finds out that the pawnbroker had recently replied to an advertisement in the paper seeking men with red hair to join the intriguing “Red-Headed League.”  ‘four pounds a week for purely nominal services. All red-headed men who are sound in body and mind and above the age of twenty-one years are eligible.’  The perplexed pawnbroker informs Holmes and Watson that he answered the advertisement immediately, having a fine head of blazing red hair, and when arriving at the meeting point where a queue of other hopeful red-haired men were waiting, was hired on the spot. The most curious thing about this however, is that he is employed for four hours in the morning to copy out the encyclopedia word for word starting with A (naturally!) and is informed that he may not leave the room for the duration. After a couple of months of diligently copying, the pawnbroker arrives at “work” one morning to find the doors locked and the League apparently dissolved with no trace of his employer, or indeed his assistant who had first informed him of the vacancy in the League.

Of course Sherlock solves the case with his usual style and wit, confounding Watson in the process, as usual. As always, the solving of the case is my favourite part as we get an insight into the weird and wonderful deductions of Holmes and how everything fits together to settle the mystery. Unfortunately, this was not one of my favourite Sherlock stories, it seemed slightly on the shorter side of short, in that I felt I was just getting into the story when it finished, which was a bit of a disappointment. However, I believe any mystery and crime fans will find this a good, solid tale with a fascinating conclusion.

Would I recommend it?:


Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Beautiful Indifference by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference.

10 comments on “Short Stories Challenge – The Red-Headed League by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

  • Hmm…this is one of my favourite of the stories. I love the humour of all the red-headed men lining up for the job, and I liked how Holmes’ knowledge of London came into play…but then I always like the more bizarre ones best.

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