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Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Down the Rabbit Holes with Sherlock Holmes

Going down rabbit holes can be fun, and Ted and Gail Stetson are masters at it.

In Hidden Threads in Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1, they explore what they contend are concealed references by Arthur Conan Doyle to topics that seem far from the story at hand in the first 24 short stories of the Canon.

Mentions of weather in “The Boscombe Valley Mystery,” where the villain is named Turner, set them off on the paintings of J.W.W. Turner, for example. “The Gloria Scot” leads to riffs on the transportation of criminals, arsenic, sports, and the Chinese game GO. In “The Final Problem,” the Stetsons find echoes of Dante’s Inferno as well as Descartes, Newton, Pascal, Erasmus, and Bruno. “The Crooked Man” leads them to Edgar Allen Poe.

But my favorite parts of the book involve literary criticism. Their analysis of the “The Speckled Band” as a melodrama is brilliant! The exploration of the comic opera elements of “The Reigate Squire” is as convincing as it is surprising.

Beneath an attractive but bland cover lies a fascinating book, whether or not you buy the assertion that the hidden threads really exist.

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