Sophie Dusting's Reviews > The Valley of Fear

The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Apr 01, 2012

really liked it
Read in March, 2012

Synopsis:

From the annals of Dr Watson comes this dark tale of Sherlock Holmes's early encounter with Professor Moriarty. When Holmes and Watson receive a cipher from one of Moriarty's henchmen, warning of dark doings at the manor house, they find themselves of the trail of a murder. Almost, immediately, they are on their way to Sussex, where they discover a corpse with its head blown to pieces. But all is not as it seems. For the origins of the case lie in America, and involve a Pinkerton's man and the mysterious activities of a terrible and secretive lodge.

The Verdict:

A murder mystery that leaves the boffins of London's Metropolitan Police resorting to one person, the delightful Mr. Sherlock Holmes. I have never read a Holmes novel before though I like so many others, are familiar with the stories due to countless adaptions for television and screen. I was not disappointed. We meet Holmes and Watson in 221B Baker Street debating over a riddle; it is here we are first given a taste of the genius of Sherlock Holmes. His logic and thought process are exquisite, formidable and one can imagine very intimidating to any local police officer. Leading to the estate in Sussex a crime which at first seems simple has it's roots firmly laid firmly with Moriarty, the only criminal to match his glorious mind.

TAs with all the other novels, the story is told by Watson, the long suffering colleague and friend of Holmes. His admiration and respect for Holmes clearly comes across along with his frustration at the intellectual superiority of his friend. Their recount of the tale and their friendship, is simply a joy to read.

I found it surprising that I found the language easy to read and the novel to follow; I was expecting more elaborate and archaic words. Conan Doyle however, seems brilliantly articulate in the way he delivers his tale through Watson and his words seems never to date. Let me just share with you one one quote which I thought was rather wonderful in summarising the book: "Self-protection is no murder...".


I loved Holmes's dialogue. His character comes across so well, I am rather in awe of Conan Doyle's writing skills. In fact, I loved Holmes so much I was rather annoyed when the book split half-way through recounting the earlier developments of the crime, missing the character of Holmes out completely. Perhaps I need to read another Conan Doyle novel which focuses more on the detective. The other personalities shone throughout, for instance, one of my favourite passages spoken by the leader of the secretive lodge; "What in thunder has that got to do with you? Carnaway was about his house at night, and he shot him. That's enough for me and you. You've got to set the thing right."

Setting - Part in Baker Street, part in the Sussex Estate of Birlstone, part in the Valleys in America. I least enjoyed the second section of the book for the very reason I gave above. There was a lack of Holmes. For me it took away something from the tale. Slightly off track there, the setting does suitably match the story and though is not too many adjectives are given, I still had enough to paint a picture in my head.

Detective stories are hard to make original; bad guy vs good guy. Sherlock Holmes is a classic though. Extra points for that alone.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyable read that I would quite happily snap up again. 4 Stars.

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