In this fourth adventure, Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard summons Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson to Herefordshire to investigate the murder of a wealthy landowner named Charles McCarthy. Holmes, donning his “travelling-cloak and close-fitting cloth cap”, carefully examines the crime scene and soon unravels the mystery involving a secret criminal past, thwarted love, and blackmail.
The depiction of Sherlock Holmes
The very first illustration of this adventure by Sidney Paget, which is presented below along with my LEGO® rendering of this drawing, is quite notable in that Paget chose to depict Sherlock Holmes wearing a deerstalker cap and Inverness cloak. As many Sherlockians know, this was solely a decision of the artist as Arthur Conan Doyle never specifically mentions Sherlock Holmes wearing these two items of clothing in any of the stories. In ‘The Boscombe Valley Mystery’, for example, Conan Doyle only describes Holmes as wearing a “long gray travelling-cloak and close-fitting cloth cap”. Likewise, in ‘The Adventure of Silver Blaze’ Doctor Watson describes the Great Detective as wearing “his ear-flapped travelling cap”. Considering that the deerstalker was the most common cap of the period matching both of these descriptions, it is unsurprising that Sidney Paget depicted Holmes wearing such a hat. But of course, as a deerstalker was typically worn only in rural areas, such as in Herefordshire, the setting of ‘The Boscombe Valley Mystery’, it would not have been Holmes’s daily choice of headgear while investigating cases in and about London. However, many subsequent artists, including Sidney Paget himself on at least one occasion, depicted Holmes donning his deerstalker cap in the city leading to the popular image of Holmes persisting to today.
“We had the carriage to ourselves.”
As for the LEGO® version of this now famous attire, the LEGO Group fortuitously released a ‘Detective’ minifigure in 2011, two years after I conceived the idea of my Sherlock Holmes Re-imagined book series. Although it was not identified specifically as Sherlock Holmes, the minifigure consisted of a Victorian-style detective complete with a deerstalker cap (see photo above), Inverness-cloak-patterned torso (see photo below), and magnifying glass. This minifigure has been of obvious use to me when creating and photographing models for the Sherlock Holmes Re-Imagined book series, and it even served as the model for creating the silhouette of Holmes featured on the cover of the first 13 books in the series.
“Lestrade shrugged his shoulders.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also fond of the grotesque case of Jabez Wilson as he listed ‘The Red-Headed League’ as the second best Sherlock Holmes tale, when he was invited in 1927 by The Strand Magazine to name the twelve best stories he had written. Others on the list included: ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band’ (#1), ‘The Adventure of the Dancing Men’ (#3) and ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ (#5), the latter of which is the first story in the Sherlock Holmes Re-Imagined book series.
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