Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Quintessential Quote #24

"You see, but you do not observe."
-- Sherlock Holmes, "A Scandal in Bohemia"
This quote is very important because it's the key to how Holmes constantly amazes Watson by making what he calls deductions (actually inductions) from "the observance of trifles."

In a sense, the quote applies to all detective story readers. We don't literally "see" what the detective sees, but a fair-play mystery writer will give us all the clues and yet we usually miss their significance.

For example, in one of Agatha Christie's Poirot novels there are two characters who are related to each other. That relationship is crucial to the solution of the mystery. We can't see the physical resemblance, but Christie has someone mistake one character for the other at a distance -- thereby implying the resemblance.

Most of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle played fair with the reader -- certainly more than almost any other Victorian mystery writer. We are allowed to "see" the dummy bell-rope and the open transom that are so important to the solution of "A Speckled Band," for example.

But there are times that we don't get to see what Holmes does, and therefore don't get the chance to observe or draw conclusions. In "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League," Holmes tells Watson (and us) that he was looking at Vincent Spaulding's knees -- but he doesn't say what he saw there!

What's your favorite Sherlockian quotation?

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