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May 20th, 2011


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06:15 pm - Homes V. Hewitt; Round 1

 Sherlock HolmesSo .... When last I posted, I was writing about the various series of detective stories I've read.

It strikes me that there may be some merit in comparing the Sherlock Holmes stories, which set the standard, to their closest rival, the Martin Hewitt Stories.  

It seems all the more apt to compare each character's premier short story, for reasons that should become evident.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes -- A.C. Doyle 

Scandal in Bohemia

Premise:  Brilliant consulting detective takes on the cases which Scotland Yard refers to him, which they can't solve, as well as taking on private clients.

Story:  The King of Bohemia asks Sherlock Holmes to obtain an incriminating photo of him with the adventuress, Irene Adler, with which the King believes that she plans to blackmail him, on the eve of his forthcoming nuptials with a woman of his own station.

Positives

  • The story has tremendous pace -- I've read it a number of times before, but I still found myself pulled into the story.
  • The main characters -- Holmes, Watson, and Irene Adler are brought, effectively, to life.
  • The way that Holmes solves the major problem, of determining the location of the incriminating photograph, is quite ingenious
  • It was quite daring of Doyle to make the first Holmes short story be one where his sleuth is, technically, defeated -- and by a woman, no less!

Negatives

  • The opening page or two are a bit discursive, by todays standards:  It takes a bit for the plot to get started.
  • Other than Sherlock's inferences about Doctor Watson's recent activities, there is, actually, no real mystery in this mystery story:  we know that Irene Adler is blackmailing the King from the start.  The only real puzzle is figuring out where she is hiding the photo.

Evaluation:  With the exception of the lack of a true mystery, this is still a fun story, that stands up to multiple readings.  The characters of Watson and Holmes are fully formed and credible.  The plotting is exemplary -- literally -- when I was in college, the Professor in Lit 101 assigned this story the first week because, although she was evidently embarrassed to have us read something that was so "pop culture", it was a perfect example for discussing the traditional pattern of short stories:  exposition, conflict, development, complication, resolution and denouement.


Assessment:  
Recommended.  Classic short story that stands up to multiple re-reading.


 

Martin HewittMartin Hewitt, Investigator

The Lenton Croft Robberies

Arthur Morrison

Premise:  Like Holmes, Martin Hewitt is a detective who depends upon keen observation and insight to solve mysteries.  However, thats where the resemblance ends:  Unlike Holmes, Hewitt is hearty and affable, a man in business who sometimes refuses to solve a puzzle until he is sure his fee will be paid.  A man of the streets, with an affable manner, who works cooperatively with the authorities

Story: A nobleman comes to Hewitt with a problem:  on 3 different occasions, guests at his house have had items stolen.  Two of the thefts occurred in the same room.  Two of them occurred with a window open (but no means of human ingress thereby).  Two of the thefts involved items of value (in the third case, a brightly colored piece of costume jewelry was preferred to an item nearby of substantial value).  The one factor they all have in common is that in each instance, a burnt out match has been deposited near where the stolen item was last seen.  The third theft has just occurred, and the nobleman wanted to find out who is committing these crimes and stop them, before his reputation is sullied.

Positives:

  • Martin Hewitt comes across as a believable, appealing character.
  • The story has a good pace, and a smooth prose style
  • The story is entertaining and clever

Negatives
  • Like the Holmes story, the first page or show is discursive -- describing how Hewitt came into his current career and his relationship with the narrator, before plunging into the story.
  • All the characters besides Hewitt are pretty stereotypical.
  • I anticipated the solution (but still enjoyed the story).
  • One or two pieces of evidence were withheld from the reader until Hewitt provided the solution

Evaluation:  An entertaining, and engaging story.  For this review, I meant to just skim over it to refresh my memory of the plot details, but, even knowing the solution, I found myself pulled into it

Assessment:  Recommended!

 

Comparison:  Often  Hewitt is often dismissed as a mere "Holmes clone", the principle similarities between the two characters is that they both solve problems by use of keen observation and insight.  Otherwise, they are very different, indeed:  Whereas Holmes is lean, eccentric, patrician in manner and bohemian in habits, and, working out of his home, doesn't seem to regard his work as a  job, but more of a past-time, Hewitt is hearty in appearance, even-tempered, and works from an office, where he clearly sees his detective work as a business.

This story does show some influence from Doyle, however, with the concern about a theft and the effect on the client's public esteem being similar to Scandal in Bohemia.  There is, moreover, a very obvious borrowing from {SPOILER ... highlight at your peril} the Scarlet Band, given the manner the criminal agency {End Spoiler}.

However, I actually find Hewitt is some ways more appealing and believable than Holmes.


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Comments:


From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 23rd, 2011 05:45 am (UTC)

Hospital Panel

(Link)
Good day! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!
[User Picture]
From:pulpfan
Date:September 3rd, 2011 06:56 am (UTC)

Re: Hospital Panel

(Link)
No idea, but I'm getting a lot of spam in my comments, so if you find one, let me know!

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