My result for The Classics Club’s last Spin feature was The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle; the fourth Sherlock Holmes novel. I was pleased with this result, as I have really enjoyed previous Holmes stories. Plus with Autumn setting in, here in the UK, I thought it is the perfect time to be reading this.
This tale is broken down into two parts, like A Study in Scarlet. In the first part the famous, private detective Sherlock Holmes is still on the trail of criminal mastermind, Professor James Moriarty. During his investigations Holmes receives a coded message, that leads him to the murder of John Douglas at Birlstone Manor House. Holmes and his faithful companion Dr Watson set off at once to investigate further. Then in the second part we are taken back 20 years. To Vermissa Valley, USA to see the events that led to this murder.
As in previous Holmes stories I just loved delving into Doyle’s intricate mystery and witnessing the chemistry between his two protagonists. As much as I find the workings of Holmes’s mind and eccentricities fascinating. It is Holmes’s companion Dr Watson I am most drawn to. The down-to-earth narration of Watson is what makes these stories more relatable for me. In this mystery it was good to see Watson play an integral part and get a chance to uncover evidence for himself.
Through The Classics Club I have enjoyed all five Holmes short-story collections. Years before the club I read A Study in Scarlet; the only other Holmes novel I have read. I have preferred the short-story format, because I was able to read a whole story in one go. Easily keeping the thread of the mystery, and all the twists and turns. However now having read this I feel I might have been a bit hard on the novel format. Doyle has very cleverly broken the mystery into two parts. The first part is very similar to his short-story; it contains just the mystery. The difference being that then part two gives you the history and background to the mystery. I thought it helped the reader to get to know the victims and criminals of the mystery too. By the end of this I found I enjoyed it as much, if not a bit more than some of the short-stories.
The Valley of Fear was another fascinating mystery, which I flew through. Perfect for Autumn. I highly recommend to fans of Sherlock Holmes and those who enjoy classic crime. I look forward to reading The Sign of the Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Great read.
Have you read this? What is your favourite Sherlock Holmes story?