April 8th, 2014

sherlock

Reviews: The Adventure of the Three Students; Captain America 1, + RL bits and bobs

I've been rereading "The Adventures of the Three Students" (read it online) to go along with the sherlock60 community's discussion.

It's a rather unusual one - not a murder mystery or even a proper crime, the mystery is about a scandal involving someone copying the question of a scholarship exam for a prestigious university so he could work on it ahead of time in a move that could create a blemish on the university's reputation. The stakes are higher than it seems to us moderns actually, and the mystery itself is really subtle - the clues are there and even fairly obvious, but how they fit together, what they tell Sherlock, I was guessing on that point through the very end.

I also liked that while it was definitely Victorian, it didn't really trade in stereotypes like you'd expect - there's an Indian character who seems quite shifty but Holmes shoves that aside and gives a reason to explain his actions quite nicely. Also, we got an interesting less charitable view of a grumpy Holmes not driven to help out people in need, much more realistic to my mind than we saw in (for instance) "The Solitary Cyclist." Holmes is in the university's neighborhood because he's doing academic interest that seems almost trivial compared to the immediacy of the current case presented to him - and he's simply not at all interested in that until the case becomes interesting to him. That's the Sherlock we know and love (or love to get irritated with), of course, both in the originals and pretty much every adaptation made to date including my present obsessions. But there's no romance, no apologies for it, and it's quite a shift from the kinder gentler Holmes of the last several stories I've reread along with this group. That's not a fault, really, but an observation.

I will say this: even though I'd read it once maybe fifteen years ago and should have theoretically remembered how it ended (and did have a few moments of recognition), it was a wonderful mystery I didn't quite manage to solve until the very end and kept me guessing and engaged. That's a rare treat on its own.

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I also read watched the first Captain America for the first time tonight. Here are some comments I made over at FaceBook, if you're interested in my thoughts. Spoilers, obviously.

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And I had a counseling day which meant a trip down to Washington Square in Manhattan, so I did some fun things today. Again, just pasting in the account I wrote on the subway and pasted to FB:

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