Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Three More Thoughts on The Boscombe Valley Mystery from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Three More Thoughts on The Boscombe Valley Mystery from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

I don't mean to flex when I say I've read and re-read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon many times over. Not just that but I believe it's been over a year now since I've begun writing about said Sherlock Holmes canon. There are many reasons I re-read a tale, but the top two remain: 1. I like to party, and 2. to get it fresh in my mind prior to a Sherlockian meeting in which it is to be discussed.

A few days ago, I had an opportunity to enjoy again The Boscombe Murder Mystery for reason number two. So I did. Then Zoom was not kind and 8am is too early to troubleshoot, so I sadly could not join in on the Cesspudlians of London (of Ontario) meeting. I instead made a second pot of coffee and fired off an email to the group's leader, lest I deprive him of my insights which I'm sure he's heard several times before from much more capable people.

So infatuated was I with those insights of mine, and still remain so-smitten, that I figured I'd share them again here. Not just that though, I'll expand a bit about each point.

1. Holmes wearing a cloth cap, also known as a flat cap, is somewhat against character. It's always been a symbol of the working class.

Headwear of this type dates back to the 14th century in Northern England. From then until around 1700, these hats were known as bonnets, and are still known today as bunnets in Scotland. As I stated, it's always been a working-class tradesman's (and apprentice's since many a young man opted for the style then) cap; a head-covering for the non-nobility. Andy Capp is my favorite wearer of this cap, and yes, that does include myself.

Another time this hat is mentioned in the canon is within The Adventure of The Blue Carbuncle. Henry Baker wears one to replace his favored 'disreputable hard felt hat' which lands in the hands of Holmes. "I am much indebted to you, sir, for a Scotch bonnet is fitted neither to my years nor my gravity." This he tells Holmes, who with Watson, has already and quite famously examined the thing with a finer-toothed comb than imaginable.

2. Patience Moran, the daughter of the lodge-keeper. Interesting last name and I'd imagine much pastiche/fan-fic exists which ties her into Sebastien Moran. Unfortunately, I only read canon because I find it better for my health. (OK, I will enjoy an occasional early pastiche or parody.)

Please do not direct me to instances of said pastiche/fan-fic. Thank you.

Moran is a surname of Irish ancestry from the Gialic word Mor meaning Big or Great. I'd be so bold as to feel safe to assume that's where our 'More' comes from, but I could be wrong. Upon further review, it would appear I am, as More comes from the Germanic 'Mara.' Oh, well. In other news, the name Moran is not exactly rare and there might well be no connection twixt the two characters. It is now the 444th most popular last name in the US with 64,662 instances.

The next thing you'll have me believe is that all the canonical Barkers are, in fact, not the same man. Hogwash!

3. This [BOSC] is an entry into the "Last Words Misunderstood" sub-collection of Sherlock Holmes. Alongside, of course, The Speckled Band and The Lion's Mane... I feel the bit is handled best here because why would those other people have said those things instead of much more decipherable and easier to speak things?

The Adventure of The Lion's Mane could have been much more quickly-solved if McPherson had yelled out "BLOODY JELLYFISH!" Similarly, the Adventure of The Speckled Band locked-room mystery would have been much less mysterious had Helen's twin sis had simply blurted out "BLOODY SNAKE!" Then perhaps continued to drone on about how it was no ordinary snake, for it had rope-climbing limbs and smelled of milk.

::: very :::

Further KM. Reading:

On "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

On "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

On "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

On Barker a Hated (Sherlock Holmes) Rival

Online resources for this article: Wikipedia (Flat cap, LION, SPEC, Moran), Lit2Go (BLUE), Oxford Languages (more), and House of Names (Moran).