Belen De Bacco & Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes Short Stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

Introduction

The book I read gathers some of the most famous stories of the detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson, selected and retold by Anthony Laude.

The stories are: The Man with the Twisted Lip, The Engineer’s Thumb, Wisteria House.

The author

The author is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He was born 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh (Scotland) and died 7 July 1930 in Crowborough (England)for a sudden heart attack. He was a doctor, an author and a poet. He is considered, with Edgar Allan Poe, the founder of the crime stories. He studied at the Stonyhurst Jesuit College in Clitheroe. Then he studied in Austria at another Jesuit college and finally graduated at Edinburgh University at the faculty of medicine in 1885. In this period he wrote his first book, The Mystery of Satana Valley, a horror story, and his first article about medicine, specifically about a sedative that he tried on himself. He founded a remedy for the tuberculosis, supported the reform for divorce and intervened against the atrocities in Congo. He became a very influential man. He began to write the stories of the detective Sherlock Holmes when he opened a medical office in Southsea that wasn’t successful, that is why he found time to write. He wrote the first story about Holmes in 1887, it was called A Study in Scarlet. Doctor Watson was the narrator, in which the author felt reflected.

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The Man with the Twisted Lip

Under the request of Mrs. Whitney, Watson went to an opium den to find her husband. There, he found Sherlock Holmes dressed up like an old man. He was looking for a man called Neville Saint-Clair that had been missing for a few days. Watson could find Mr. Whitney and brought him home. After this, Watson and Holmes went to the house of Neville’s wife to query her. She told that a few days before she saw her husband on the second floor of the Bar of Gold, on Upper Swandam Lane. It was an opium den and he was waving at a window. Neville’s wife decided to call the police because she thought that they would never let her in. When the policeman arrived and searched the room, he could only find another person called Hugh boon. He was a beggar. There was a window that looked onto the Thames and here the police found a few blood stoins. Out of the river lied Saint-Clair’s jacket, so Holmes understood that Neville was dead. But later that night, Mrs. Saint-Claire received a reassuring letter from her husband. The day after Holmes went to the police department and paid Hugh Boone a visit. The detective cleaned the face to this beggar and discovered that Saint-Claire and Boone were the same person. He explained that for several years he was earing more money as a beggar than as an employee but he had not the courage to tell his wife the truth.

The Engineer’s Thumb

In the year 1889 a London hydraulic engineer went to Holmes’ house and told him about the strange happenings of the night before. He had a nightmare in which he saw that Mr. Hatherley’s thumb had been cut off. The Colonel Lysander Stark visited Hatherley in his office. The Colonel offered him a job at a country house to examine an hydraulic press used to compress fuller’s earth into bricks. But he could not say anything about this job, which was paid 50 guineas. He accepted because until then he had only had little work. When the next day he came to meet Stark, he had to do little repairs in his house. When he discovered that the press wasn’t used for pressing fuller’s earth he escaped, ventured death when the machine turned on, his thumb splitt. When Holmes made sense of what had happened, Watson could go to the house to interrogate Stark and his allies they arrived too late: the house was on fire with the machine, which ruined the criminals’ operation. This case is one of the few where Holmes fails to bring justice and punish the enemies.

Wisteria house

There were some strange events at the house of Garcia, a friend of Scott Eccles went to Holmes to relate about then. Garcia was dead and the police wanted to interrogate Eccles. He was invited by Garcia to stay a few days at his house with his two servants. At dinner, Garcia was distracted, especially when he received a note. At one o’clock in the morning Garcia went to wake up Eccles because he thought that Eccles had rung a bell to ask for assistance. The next day Eccles was alone in the house. The police said that Garcia was killed before a rainfall at one o’clock. The police arrested the cook that worked for Garcia because they thought that he had a connection with the crime. Holmes believed that Garcia invited Eccles to his house to witness that he was home at one o’clock. He believed also that the nearby house on high Gable had to do with the crime. An old evil man lived here called Mr. Henderson. Miss Burnet, a woman that lived there, said that she wasn’t able to see anything since Garcia’s murder. When Holmes and Watson tried to climb into Burnet’s room at the house, they all escaped. At the end Holmes discovered that the police had arrested the wrong man, the cook, to make Henderson feel safer and so to save Miss Burnet.

Personal opinion

I personally like crime stories but I always read books written by Agatha Christie in Italian. I’ve never read Sherlock Holmes. It was my first book by the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I liked it because there is a lot of psychology about the thoughts of Sherlock Holmes and this is why this book is different from the others. I would suggest it. It was a great pleasure to read this book. I will also read other books of Holmes. The language is not too difficult also because at the end of the book there is a little vocabulary with the explanation of the most difficult words. There are also some activities for the comprehension of the three short stories. This book is especially made for those who study English. This book is simplified for the upper-intermediate level (B2).

(c) Belen De Bacco

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