After the emotional roller-coasters of my last two books, I decided to give my brain a rest by turning to my old favorite, Sherlock Holmes. This collection of twelve short stories of the adventures of Sherlock and Watson ends with a bang–or rather, a plummet–where Sherlock defeats the most dangerous criminal he’s ever crossed. What makes Professor Moriarty the greatest danger to society in Sherlock’s mind is the fact that he has so many secretly doing his bidding that it’s nearly impossible to trace any crime back to Moriarty without finding yourself dead somewhere along the way. It’s unusual to catch Sherlock demonstrating fear, as he can typically smell danger from a mile away, but with Moriarty, we see Sherlock a little more vulnerable than usual.
What really struck me when reading this portion of the series are the uncanny similarities between Sherlock Homes and character Gregory House of the medical diagnostic series, House. From the mysteriousness of their skills of deduction, to their need to use assistants as sound boards as they walk through the facts, to their lack of “people” skills, the two seem to have been formed from the same mold.
I think my favorite story from this collection was “The Yellow Face.” It was about a husband and wife who are happily in love until a secret pushes them apart and drives the husband mad. The secret moves in to the cottage just down the road, and despite his wife’s pleas, Mr. Munro can’t control himself any longer–he has to figure out who or what his wife is hiding and won’t wait until she’s ready to tell him the truth. Munro finds that a young, African-American child is living in the cottage, his wife’s child from her first marriage to a wealthy man in Atlanta. Mrs. Munro feared her child would be rejected by her new husband, but couldn’t suppress her motherly affections for her daughter any longer and desired to have her close. This is how Mr. Munro responds as he scoops the little girl up in his arms to take her home:
I’m not a very good man, Effie, but I think I am a better one than you have given me credit for being.
Not only did it melt my heart, but his words cut deep and made me question how often I underestimate my husband.
I think the Sherlock Holmes series, like the Chronicles of Narnia, will be a series that I will revisit again and again, though the former I might not read to my kids until they’re a little older!