A young woman approaches Sherlock Holmes for investigating her sister's murder. It appears that the last thing the late Ms. Stoner saw was 'a speckled band' and the investigations of the circumstances leading to the lady's death were inconclusive. Now, Holmes and his faithful friend Dr. Watson must travel to the Roylott estate and figure out the mystery of the speckled band. Their investigation is made more difficult by the unhelpful and violent nature of the girls' stepfather Dr. Roylott, who is a prime suspect behind the murder. The suspicions range from the stepfather, a band of gypsies camped in the grounds to almost anyone in the household and the device and means of the suspected murder are so ingenious as to make the death seem caused naturally save for the last excited ejaculation of the unfortunate victim.
It remains to be seen whether the great detective’s investigations can help Ms. Stoner escape the unfortunate fate of her sister.
Like all Sherlock Holmes novels, the book is set in mid-nineteenth century England and the characters follow customs typical of the time and place. It was adapted into a stage-play soon after its release and enjoyed the wild levels of popularity that were associated with the Sherlock Holmes series.
The character and nature of Sherlock Holmes is based upon the experiences of the author with Dr. Joseph Bell, who used his skills of observation and deduction to treat his patients.
The author writes in the first person, from the point of view of Dr Watson, Holmes assistant investigator and friend. This ensures that most of the plot points and Holmes' brilliant deductions are explained to the reader by means of his explanation to Watson. This method of writing also enables the reader to see Sherlock Holmes from the point of view of an observer. The plot is tight, gripping and masterfully narrated with no plot holes or loose ends. The descriptions are adequately informative without being tedious or overly winded and tend to generate interest in the setting.
Sherlock Holmes’s deductions are almost revelatory in nature; however the author manages to logically construe them from evidence generated in the story. The exploration of the central character from an external viewpoint i.e Watson, makes the character endearing to the reader and piques interest in the plot and consequently how it affects Holmes.
The character of Sherlock Holmes is perhaps one of the most popular in the history of fiction. I have grown up reading his adventures and not unlike other children that age, tried to emulate him as much as possible. This particular adventure is one of my favorites and perhaps one of the better written short stories of the series.
In fact this is the one that inspired widespread debate and discussion as to the plot of the story and of the plot device employed. Many researchers have pointed out logical gaps in the narrative which laymen are however mercifully oblivious to.
Book Reviewed by Sayan Mukherjee
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