Today I sat down and reread Doyle's "A Case of Identity
." I say reread; it's been over fifteen years for this one, which is long enough for me to have forgotten what happened and to have the thrill of working out the adventure on my own. Which I came so, so
close to managing. I was convinced that I'd worked it out before the client was even through with her story, and so I missed a few things and ended up in the ballpark but not there exactly. I won't ruin it for other people, but it's reminded me of the thrill of a real Holmes story where you don't know the ending.
One of the things I found really interesting is that this is a non-criminal case, there's no law against what the villain (and I think that word's appropriate) did, and no real protection for the client. The client is a woman and she's put in this position because of the rather gendered world she lives in. So, yeah, by modern standards that comes across as a bit problematic, but working within that (as you think you have to with the Doyle stories)... what I liked here was this sense I got that legal
justice didn't always equally protect men and women, that injustices done against women were likely to fall outside of the law - but that didn't make them any less wrong. It was quite nice in its way.
There's also one of those moments that's been imported into the BBC that I love rediscovering. It's after the client has left and Watson is asked to analyze her dress - the conversation, down to Holmes's final assessment that he's done quite well but missed everything of importance, is just like the deductions of Carl Powers's trainers in The Great Game
. Only here it's actually complementary, it's a sign that Watson actually is improving (and this is early on in their friendship, it's set in 1888, just four years after Scarlet
) and that he's got a good eye for noting the details even if he's still not quite zeroing in on the things that matter most. I love the fact that he seems to expect this - otherwise why would he have taken such a long hard look at those details before the woman left and Holmes asked about them? It was refreshingly human.
Do give it a read (or listen) at the link above, if you're so inclined.
On a slight tangent, I ame across this fan-video based on scenes from the Granada show. Simply delightful!