Banner art by Chelsea Sprauer

Everyone’s heard of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, but how much do you really know about the residents of 221B Baker Street? In addition to four novellas (one of which we covered at GUY.Com), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote five collections of 56 short stories starring the world-famous detective and his faithful associate. We’ll be spotlighting 20 of them, to get you caught up just in time for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. All of these stories are public domain, so find a free copy online and read along!

The Boscombe Valley Mystery

Found in: “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”

The Case: Charles McCarthy was found with his head smashed in near a lake in Boscombe Valley. His son appears to be the likeliest suspect, but Sherlock Holmes sees reason to think otherwise.

The Solution: *McCarthy had been blackmailing his landlord, Mr. Turner, for years. When McCarthy demanded the marriage of his son with Turner’s daughter, the latter finally snapped.*

Impressions and Fingerprints: This case puts a very strong spotlight on Watson. Not only does Sherlock take the unusual step of explicitly requesting his assistance, but Watson’s medical expertise is used to provide some crucial evidence.

This story also features Inspector Lestrade, easily the most well-known among Holmes’ contacts in Scotland Yard. Lestrade is never given a first name and he’s only described in connection with rodents (“ferret-like,” “rat-faced,” etc.). More importantly, Lestrade is notable for being a man who resents Holmes’ unorthodox methods, rushes to conclusions, and is always wrong without fail.

The case itself in this story is very complex, as there’s a great deal of seemingly conclusive evidence that has to be debunked and a lot of evidence that’s yet to be discovered. The murder is also tied up in several heartbreaking stories of blackmail, romance, betrayal, and a man on his deathbed.

Is it still worth it? The case is thrilling and the main characters are at their sharpest. Recommended.

Part 20: “The Last Bow”
Part 19: “The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place”
Part 18: “The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone”
Part 17: “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange”
Part 16: “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”
Part 15: “The Adventure of the Empty House”
Part 14: “The Final Problem”
Part 13: “The Naval Treaty”
Part 12: “The Crooked Man”
Part 11: “The Reigate Puzzle”
Part 10: “The Greek Interpreter”
Part 9: “The Musgrave Ritual”
Part 8: “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”
Part 7: “Silver Blaze”
Part 6: “The Five Orange Pips”
Part 5: “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”
Part 4: “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”
Part 3: “A Case of Identity”
Part 2: “A Scandal in Bohemia”
Part 1: “The Red-Headed League”