Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Hound of the Baskervilles & The Valley of Fear (Macmillan Collector's Library) Hardcover – August 23, 2016 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Author), David Stuart Davies (Afterword) (Macmillan Collector's Library)

“The Hound of the Baskervilles” is the best known of Doyle’s long stories. Like the others, it is entertaining and educational. Murders are caused by love and money (or lust and greed), to get it or to keep it. See your local newspapers. Dr. James Mortimer visits Sherlock Holmes over his concern for the new heir of the Baskerville estate. Sir Charles Baskerville recently died under strange conditions, and Sir Henry may also be threatened. Dr. Watson will accompany Sir Henry as a guard (his revolver is handy). Watson learns more about this neighborhood. Holmes arrives, he lacks proof for the solution of the crime. Sir Henry will visit neighbors at night, alone. But Holmes, Lestrade, and Watson follow to rescue Sir Henry from a fiendish attack. Justice isn’t cheated, the villain pays for his crimes. [Was this a critique of a hereditary aristocracy?]

“The Valley of Fear” begins when Inspector MacDonald arrives with news of the horrible murder of Mr. Douglas of Birlstone Manor House, which is isolated by a forty-foot moat. Douglas came from golden California a wealthy man. A shotgun blast destroyed his face, only a brand on his arm identified him. Holmes talks to the people involved, he knows some are lying. He is able to solve this killing. This leads to Part 2, a fictionalized story of the anthracite coal wars in 1870s Pennsylvania. Violence during a long strike was answered with violence by the miners. A Pinkerton agent infiltrated the miner’s union, gained their confidence, and began collecting evidence. [No mention of any agent provocateurs to create crimes.] This miner’s group was called the “Mollie Maguires” (but they never used this phrase). This group was caught in the act, convicted, and hanged. During another recession the mine owner was dismissed from his position and later died a suicide. [This story is little known, a good history book will educate you.]

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