Book #52

The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle

Doyle's final novel featuring the beloved sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, brings the detective and his friend to a country manor where they are preceded by either a murder or a suicide. A secretive organization lies culprit and an infiltration of it is in order.

For quite a long time, I have been sporadically working my way through The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes. I have recently come to a section of the works which is comprised mainly of short stories, and it’s these I’ve been devouring of late. I was looking forward to a longer tale in The Valley of Fear, and yet have come away somewhat disappointed.

Although the Holmes standard elements are all there - mystery, deception, and questionable relationships leading to an ultimate impressive deduction of fact - Doyle felt the need here to provide, in the second part of the novel, the history of the victim, and details of how the eventual crime came to pass. I felt the lack of Holmes and Watson, mourned the loss of investigative plot, and struggled immensely with this rather intrusive long saga of the life of a man I had ceased to care for as soon as his secret was revealed.

I enjoy the structure I’m usually given in these stories, and I was jarred by this odd addition. It lacked engagement and purpose, and truly did nothing to add to the original mystery. I shall continue on my complete works quest, and hope I don’t run into any more lengthy, insipid insertions such as this.