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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Favorite Holmes Story? The Reverse - in Verse!

When we were students at the University of Cincinnati in the early 1970s, Steve Winter, Peggy Kreimer, and I used to gather occasionally to read stories from the Sherlock Holmes Canon out loud. A few beverages may have been involved – Imperial Tokay, for example.

Other friends, including Ann Brauer (now Andriacco) also took part, but the trio of dedicated Sherlockians considered ourselves The Three Students. Other than that sentimental connection, I’ve never had any affection for “The Adventure of the Three Students.” But erudite Sherlockian Rich Krisciunas really doesn’t like it.

He explained why in verse at a meeting of Watsons’ Tin Box on June 29. He gave me permission to share it with you:


The Canon’s stories have been rated and ranked
by Conan Doyle, Sherlockians and the rest.  
In Watson’s retelling of the adventures  
This one’s definitely not close to the best. 

A half chapter of Thucydides copied. Oh my!!
There’s no murder, no blackmail or ransom to pay.
No vampire, snake bite or secret society.
No one’s kidnapped or poisoned. There’s no foul play.

No Irene’s or Violets. No ladies at all.
No client climbs the seventeen steps at Baker Street.
No hasty rides on trains or traps or hansom cabs.
The weather’s fine. There’s not even a threat of fog or sleet.

No hiding in the dark or amputated thumbs.
No ladies found in coffins to heighten the suspense.
No secret papers stolen or wrongs to avenge.
There’s not a single shooting done in self-defense!

Let’s peruse the story a little more closely. 
Somebody has eyeballed the tutor Soames’ test.
Holmes’ plan to study early English Charters
Was cut short so he could attempt what he does best.

The three suspects were living on the floors above
However, we barely heard any of them speak.
There’s no interaction. Few details about them. 
Admit it, their character development’s weak.

There’s the Indian; “inscrutable and quiet.” 
There’s rude Miles McLaren who won’t open his door, 
A guy named Gilchrist who doesn’t have a first name! 
Why couldn’t we have learned just a little bit more?

But the biggest flaw in Watson’s writing 
Is the question of why Holmes got involved?
If he’d remained back at the library.
This is a case that would still have been solved.

While Holmes spied a pencil and sawdust from a shoe
The butler correctly identified the cheat,
The thief confessed, packed his bags to Rhodesia, way
Before Holmes’ investigation was complete.

I thank all of you for listening patiently
Hopefully you’re convinced and I think you’ll agree 
Watson’s other stories are all so much better. 
Any way you read it, this one’s all Greek to me.

© By Rich Krisciunas