The Devil’s Foot

07/18/2011 at 1:15 AM (Books, Mystery, TV) (, , , , , )

While Holmes and Dr. Watson are on vacation in Cornwall , the intrusion of a local vicar, Mr. Roundhay, makes sure that their break is cut short. Mr. Mortimer Tregennis, a local gentleman estranged from the rest of his family due to a family dispute, found his brothers under a strange derangement and his sister, Brenda, dead after a friendly visit. The housekeeper had found them and on seeing their state had fainted. Tregennis says he saw his brother looking out through the window and adds he had seen “movement” outside. He then attributes the bizarre event as the work of the devil. The ghastly look of horror on Brenda’s face is a complete mystery. The summoned doctor came to the conclusion she had been dead for six hours and he too collapsed into a chair after arrival.

After attending the affected residence, Holmes kicks over a watering pot; the action is in fact a deliberate accident. The feet of all get soaked. Holmes notes the remains of a fire. Tregennis explains it was a cold, damp night. New questions arise when Dr. Leon Sterndale, a famous hunter and explorer, makes a visit after hearing of the tragedy. He is played by Denis Quilley, who has an amazing voice. The Tregennis family members are distant cousins of Dr.Sterndale.

Soon after, the vicar delivers the news of the death of Mortimer Tregennis; it was in the same manner as his siblings. Rushing to the room of the dead man, Holmes and Watson find the air smells foul and stuffy despite an open window. In addition, a lamp is burning. Holmes scrapes half of the ash from the lamp, leaving the rest for the local police. It is clear he knows how the victims met their deaths. He tests his hypothesis and is pulled into a stupor of madness. In my opinion, this was done rather cheesily. The quick thinking of Watson who resists inhaling the poison saves him from near peril. It turns out burning of the powder was the key to solve other complications.

It turns out there were two guilty parties in this tale: one was motivated by greed and the other by love. The poison is called Radix pedix diaboli – Devil’s Foot in Latin. This is how the adventure, found in the story collection His Last Bow, derives its name.

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The Crooked Man

07/17/2011 at 1:20 AM (Books, TV) (, , , , , )

Continuing my Sherlock Holmes theme, the story I give you today is that of The Crooked Man. In this version, the role of Watson is played by David Burke. Colonel James Barclay is shot dead and it is perceived the shooter is his loving wife, Nancy. Perplexing is that Nancy was discovered in a dead faint near her dead husband while he had a look of seeing a ghost on his face. It seems like an unlikely reaction to his wife. A singular wooden club was left behind which was assumed to be the murder weapon by the police. The maid reports she had heard the name David.

After going to an errand connected with her church, Nancy returned agitated and asked her maid to prepare her tea. Learning his wife was back, he joined her. That was the last the servants saw of the couple. When the coachman discovered the body, he found that the room key was nowhere to be found and which was reported to Holmes by the housekeeper. Sherlock Holmes jumps to the conclusion that it must be in possession of an intruder, a third-party.

It turns out Colonel James Barclay was harbouring a guilty conscience. He realised that his prior secret of how he rose up the ranks could be exposed due to the return of a former lover of his wife, Henry Wood, that he had wilfully betrayed. The man had been caught by the enemy and mistreated and tortured but Nancy had recognised him despite his bent back, scarred face and shuffling gait. He had informed her of her husband’s terrible conduct in the matter. It turns out no murder was involved and it is verified by experts.

David was a reference to the Book of Samuel in the Bible. She was reproaching her husband in reference to the section where David sent Uriah to a zone of heavy fighting to be free to marry his wife.

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The Man With The Twisted Lip

07/14/2011 at 1:58 AM (Books, TV) (, , , , , , , )

My Hercule Poirot and Marple episode searches as of late have yielded no results. I have watched most episodes starring David Suchet as Poirot and the Marple series with Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple. So now I have turned to Sherlock Holmes for my entertainment. Last week, what I watched was called The Man with the Twisted Lip. This case belongs in the The Return of Sherlock Holmes collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Neville St Clair is spotted by his wife in an establishment in Upper Swindon Lane; a home to opium dens, beggars and the generally destitute. She catches a glance of him through the window and he abruptly withdraws. Being of a brave temperament, the lady enters the premises and tries to go upstairs in search of her husband. She is prevented from gaining entry by an employee of Lascar origin. Undeterred she returns accompanied by the police to search for her missing husband. But the only occupant they find is a dirty but professional beggar by the name of Daniel Boone who lodges there. He seems to have a penchant for quoting literary figures such as Shakespeare and Wordsworth. Her persistence finally makes her realise that a box of building bricks that was promised to her daughter is in the room as is his clothes. During low tide, they also locate his overcoat weighted down with pennies. Daniel Boone is arrested for doing away with Neville St Clair.

The lady engages Sherlock Holmes (played by Jeremy Brett) to find her missing husband. When Sherlock expresses he fears that her husband might be dead, she produces a recently delivered letter which assures her he is well and is accompanied with his signet ring. Dr. Watson (played by Edward Hardwicke in this episode) also asks if her husband could possibly have been an opium addict but she rejects this surmise. Sherlock Holmes finally stumbles upon the solution as he washes his face in a basin in the morning and tells Watson who has barely slept he wants to test a theory at dawn. His inkling about the whereabouts of the missing husband proves to be correct. So it turns out that The Man with the Twisted Lip was a case without even as much as a criminal.

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