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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Insignificance of the Dog in the Night-Time

Holmes, dressed for the country, will soon hear about the dog in the night-time 

I’ve just written a scene in my upcoming Sebastian McCabe – Jeff Cody mystery novel in which I turn the dog-in-the-night-time trope upside down.

You know what I mean: The passage from the Sherlock Holmes short story “Silver Blaze” is one of the most familiar dialogue exchanges in the Holmes Canon. It’s quoted frequently in mystery fiction – and outside of it. It begins with a Scotland Yard inspector asking Holmes a question: 
“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes. 
In mysteries (except for my new one), the context for citing this passage is the sleuth pointing out a negative clue, something significant by its absence. On a car trip once I listened to two of Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels written 36 years apart – Cards on the Table and Elephants Can Remember. Both used the dog in the night-time as a metaphor.

The most extended literary allusion to this quote comes in a novel by Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which I recently reread. Haddon’s narrator, a 15-year-old autistic boy, uses the methods of his hero, Sherlock Holmes, to investigate the killing of a dog.

But my favorite reference to the dog in the night-time is a “Peanuts” comic strip from January 28, 1994. Charlie Brown is reading aloud to Snoopy from “Silver Blaze.” When Charlie says, “the dog did nothing in the night-time,” Snoopy thinks to himself, “My favorite part.”

Spoiler alert: In my book, the fact that the dog did nothing in the night-time just means he’s a lousy guard dog!

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