What’s The Boscombe Valley Mystery all about?:
Lestrade summons Holmes to a community in Herefordshire, where a local land owner has been murdered outdoors. The deceased’s estranged son is strongly implicated. Holmes quickly determines that a mysterious third man may be responsible for the crime, unraveling a thread involving a secret criminal past, thwarted love, and blackmail.
What did I think?:
Hooray, another Sherlock Holmes story for my Short Story Challenge, and one which I was very excited to get to. Holmes and his ever faithful companion Dr Watson arrive at the Boscombe Valley, asked to help by “that imbecile Lestrade,” (in Sherlock’s words) a detective who often requires the skills of Holmes to solve tricky cases. The background to the case involves two families, the wealthy Turners – John and his daughter Alice and the McCarthy’s – Charles and his son James who are tenants on Turners land. One day, McCarthy is walking to the Boscombe Pool as he has told his serving man that he has an appointment there he must keep. As it is, he seems to keep the appointment but does not return alive, bludgeoned to death. His son is found beside his father’s body, with blood staining his clothes and has been arrested as the prime suspect. When witnesses are interrogated, they report seeing McCarthy’s son following fairly close behind his father with a gun in his hand. Of course when it comes to the cases of Sherlock Holmes, nothing is ever clear cut, and Holmes begins to find clues that lead him to the conclusion that James is innocent. So, who killed Charles McCarthy and why? And where exactly does Turner’s daughter Alice fit into everything? It is certainly a puzzle but the reader is confident that Holmes will be able to solve it using his magical skills of intense observation and deduction.
The Boscombe Valley Mystery was easy to read and I enjoyed trying to put the puzzle together and solve the crime. Probably the only thing that bothered me was that I found it quite obvious what the conclusion was going to be. This was quite disappointing as it is the first Holmes story where I have been able to do that and I love the element of surprise, where the author keeps you guessing. Saying that, there were a few things that came out in the conclusion that did surprise me and made me think of the way we present ourselves in public isn’t necessarily the way we are in private. Say no more! So, nice story but I don’t think it really stands out in comparison to the others in this collection.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: The Agency by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference