Chapters 3 & 4, Birlstone, shotguns, and V.V. 341.

‘A real downright snorter […] we’ll have the pressmen down like flies when they understand it’

Hi, and thanks for those of you who were at the meeting last night, it was a really interesting discussion ranging from reading practices, Holmes’s love of trashy literature, his foul smelling pipe, Moriarty’s class status, and Anglo-American relations. If anyone wants to come along next Monday please do join us.

Anyway, chapters 3 and 4 have been sent out, and we leave London to find out more about ‘The Tragedy at Birlstone’ and the murder of John Douglas. What do you make of White Mason, Mrs Douglas and Cecil Barker? What of the mysterious calling card, and the ominous mark on Douglas’s arm? I am particularly struck with the suggestive gruesomeness of the illustration of Holmes investigating the body. If you have any thoughts about the chapters so far do let us know in the comments below. Chapter 5 follows on Thursday.
Cheerio for now,


4 thoughts on “Chapters 3 & 4, Birlstone, shotguns, and V.V. 341.

  1. Margaret

    More eyebrows! Cecil Barker with his “thick, strong, black eyebrows, and a pair of masterful black eyes”…Do we trust a handsome man?
    Also, some faintly repulsive imagery. The lard-coloured skin of the corpse. The dingy liver-coloured brick of the building. Grim!


    1. Yes, I was struck with the rather anatomical description of the building, it is quite foreboding. I very much like the idea of eyebrows becoming important! Perhaps it is not so much eyes that are the windows to the soul, but rather the eyebrows?


      1. Anonymous

        No plucking and waxing in Victorian times, unless trying a disguise! Hair in general seen as a very personal changeless attribute. The tendency to cherish memories with locks of hair. Mourning jewellery made of hair.


        1. I think there is something in this. After all, in the earlier case of ‘The Adventure of the Copper Beeches’ (1892), it is the it the request from her employer that Violet Hunter cut her hair short that serves as one of the clues that something is amiss: ‘I could hardly believe my ears. As you may observe, Mr Holmes, my hair is somewhat luxuriant, and of a rather peculiar tint of chestnut. It has been considered artistic. I could not dream of sacrificing it in this offhand fashion’. Clearly only a monster would make such a request! But what of Barker’s own luxuriant hair in Valley of Fear?


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