S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.
Yet another foray into the world of Sherlock Holmes, and this time it’s The Adventure of the Copper Beeches! We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Dire situation, not sure where to turn, when suddenly, something happens that seems to be a godsend. But… is it really?
This story opens with Sherlock Holmes being in a particularly argumentative mood, taking it out on the flat and Watson. He has little hope that his next client will be little more than a mild, non-criminal consultation. Yet when Miss Violet Hunter arrives, she impresses him with her presence and speech. She has, what appears to be, a good situation at first, but as Sherlock says, it is not a job he would wish his own sister to take. There is something suspicious, even to the reader, about this job. The requirements of her are to wear particular clothing, sit here and there about the house, and cut off her luxurious hair–little to do with her actual hiring job of being a nanny. And the pay! She’d be one of the highest-paid nannies around!
Sherlock suggests she do as she needs but that he will aid her if she needs it, so Miss Hunter takes the job offered by Mr. and Mrs. Rucastle. With a little sleuthing on her part, she discovers she is performing for the sake of some strange watcher, and that there is someone trapped within an isolated wing of the house, while a starved, aggressive mastiff prowls the grounds at night. She contacts Sherlock for further advise, and the detective and his companion decide they must rescue the captive, with Miss Hunter’s aid. The plan goes off without a hitch, until it is revealed that the captive is already freed. Mr. Rucastle returns to find everyone in his home; when he goes to spring the dog free, it turns on him immediately. Sherlock and Watson then rescue the scoundrel, killing the starved canine.
As it turns out, another of the hired help had conspired with the watcher to free the young captive, at the very same time as Sherlock and his cohorts. It was Mr. Rucastle’s daughter from his first marriage, and, as seems usual in these plots, he would lose her inherited finances if she were to marry–and that was precisely what she had intended. As the story closes, Watson notes that he had hoped Sherlock would continue to have ties to Miss Hunter, but that he did not. And that is just how Sherlock Holmes likes it.
Interested in The Adventure of the Copper Beeches? It can be purchased here.