Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Adventure of the Gloria Scott, by Arthur Conan Doyle

noonlightreads is hosting a chronological Sherlock Holmes Challenge during 2017 and 2018. I've read a few Sherlock stories/novels and I've always been meaning to read more so I jumped at the chance to join this ambitious challenge. The first story on this massive list was the Adventure of the Gloria Scott and I have to say I loved it.

The Adventure of the Gloria Scott was published as part of the twelve story collection "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" in 1893 and is chronologically the earliest case in the Sherlock Holmes canon. Most of the Sherlock Holmes stories I've read in the past were during the mid period of his career and it was fascinating to see Sherlock Holmes before he became the Sherlock Holmes we all know and love/hate/admire. This case is narrated by Sherlock and is a mystery within a mystery and as far as I'm concerned it's a must read for anyone interested in Sherlock Holmes and what pushed him to dedicate his life to the art of deduction. 

The Adventure of the Gloria Scott opens with Sherlock Holmes telling Watson about one of his very first cases. During his time at university he befriended a fellow "outsider" named Victor Trevor and was invited to the home of Victor's father for a month during a break from their studies. It's here that the mystery really starts. During a conversation Holmes revealed his prowess at deduction and Victor's father, Mr. Trevor, was amazed at what Holmes could deduce from just a few details. When Sherlock mentioned that he deduced Mr Trevor was once connected to someone with the initials "J.A" due to the initials being tattooed on his arm Mr Trevor passed out and gave a false account of who J.A was. Sherlock thought he made Mr Trevor uncomfortable and decided to leave the next day but before he could take his leave a man, a former shipmate of Mr Trevor, turned up at the house looking for work. Later that evening Holmes and Victor found Mr Trevor passed out drunk on a lounge.

Sherlock took his leave the next day and spent the next seven weeks honing his skills and embarking on chemistry experiments until suddenly he received a telegram from Victor urging him to come back to Mr. Trevor's house. When he arrived Mr. Trevor had just passed away from complications relating to a stroke. During the seven weeks that Holmes was away he discovered the old shipmate, Hudson, was making life uncomfortable and impossible for both Victor and Mr Trevor. After clashing with Victor, Hudson left and announced he was going to see Beddoes, a fellow shipmate of both Mr Trevor and himself. A letter soon arrived for Mr Trevor from Fordingbridge where Beddoes lived. The letter itself was somewhat of a riddle and was intelligible to Victor but Holmes worked out that each third word made up a harrowing sentence "The game is up. Hudson has told all. Fly for your life." Clearly there was a terrible secret that all three had been hiding for decades.

Mr. Trevor had left a letter explaining that years before they had all been convicts sent on a voyage to
Australia. Once on the ship had set sail Mr. Trevor found out there was a conspiracy to take over the ship. I think you can all guess where this is heading. Basically everyone died except for Trevor, Beddoes and Hudson and a few other men. Trevor and Beddoes made fortunes when they eventually arrived in Australia and returned home as rich men. Soon after Mr. Trevor died in the present Beddoes and Hudson were never heard from again. The police assumed Hudson had killed Beddoes but Holmes was of the opinion that Beddoes had killed Hudson and had fled the country with as much money as he could take.

I really liked this story. It was a mystery within a mystery and gave the reader insight on Sherlock Holmes as a young man and as it was the first Sherlock Holmes case I think its required reading for every Holmes aficionado.

















5 comments :

  1. Great summary! I like that you included the illustrations; I grew up with those and it's super nostalgic to come back to them. :)

    It kind of seemed like Holmes is one of those people that unintentional makes others uncomfortable via his talents of deduction. Of course, we discover that in later stories, but it's particularly interesting here when he's a young man and trying to socialize. I guess it turned out to be a strength and a weakness for him.

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    1. The illustrations are so beautiful! I loved them.

      I agree! I think he's so popular because a lot of introverted people can see themselves in him. Obviously he's exaggerated but I digress.

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  2. I didn't start reading the Sherlock Holmes' books until last year. I'd never been very interested in them but after reading quite a few of Conan Doyle's historical novels & loving them, I decided I should try Sherlock. So glad I did; have really enjoyed them!

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