The final chapter in A Study in Scarlet doesn’t disappoint as an interesting read, despite being an information dump of how Holmes solved the case. You’d think this would simply be a dry litany, but instead we see how all the oddities that Watson observed over the course of the story come together into one whole:
Holmes’ attention to peculiar ground details around the murder scene.
Holmes’ study of poisons (in particular alkaloids).
Holmes’ eclectic study of past sensational murder cases, both in England and abroad in America (and likely elsewhere on the globe).
Holmes’ random knowledge of things like cigarette ashes, shoe sizes, and dirt.
Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars and the tasks they were set upon.
And, let’s face it, Holmes’ non-squeamishness around corpses.
It’s cathartic and even pleasing to see everything come together in Holmes’ mind and odd habits.
Jefferson Hope dies a Disney Death of sorts (i.e., nobody has a hand in his death but nature), which is the best ending he could have gotten.
And Holmes’ assistance in the case is entirely ignored by the papers, to his indignant amusement. But Watson promises that he’s going to patch that up, and until then—
Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo
Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar in arca.
This is part of a poem from Horace, Book 1, Satire 1, and can be roughly translated as:
The public hisses at me, but I applaud myself
in my own own house and contemplate the riches in my chest.
And considering Holmes’ arrogance, it’s entirely appropriate that his vanity about his gifts (deserved as they may be) is represented by a quote from a Roman miser.
Next time: we’re going to take a break from reading, and instead evaluate the pros and cons of BBC Radio 4’s adaptation of Study. I suspect there will be vast improvements in the storytelling—there almost always are where this particular radio adaptation is concerned.