S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.
Been wondering where my Sherlock Holmes’ reviews have been? Don’t wonder about the Harry Potter ones yet, as I’m trying to finish off this collection of Holmes’ short stories first! Then I’ll get back to Harry Potter, no fear! In the meantime, I enjoy small bits of relaxed reading here and there. Today I have two stories to share with you, the first being Silver Blaze.
Now, Silver Blaze is the name of a race horse. According to Watson, he expects Holmes to jump at the case immediately, but for some reason the great detective puts it off for a couple days, until finally announcing his plans to go to Dartmoor and investigate the matter. He had expected such an easily-recognizable, famous horse to be hard to hide, based on what had occurred, but apparently, such was not the case. Watson accompanies him to the stables to find out precisely what has occurred. There are two matters to deal with: the murder of a man and the disappearance of the horse. The murdered soul was John Straker, the horse’s trainer.
Over the course of the adventure, we find that there has been a drugged curried mutton, a silent guard dog, a surgical knife, and an unwanted guest’s cravat. Holmes ties together the matter quickly, correcting an assumption two along the way. The entire business turns out to be more nefarious than one would originally think. Straker was actually the man behind the drugging of the stable boy (and subsequently the silence of his dog), which leads to a much more dark reason for the man to have such a particular knife on his person at the time of his death. He had found the cravat, misplaced by the stable’s unwanted guest earlier that evening, and intended to use it in his amateur surgery to critically wound the racing favorite, Silver Blaze. To the horse’s good fortune, he was skittish, breaking free and lashing out at the man, killing him by the force of the blow, and running off into the empty surround land. Instead of returning home to his stables, he wandered towards the competition’s nearby stables.
Master Silas Brown discovered the horse near his stables, immediately recognizing him for what a situation it is. Judging from the tracks, he leads the horse back towards his home, before suddenly changing his mind and leading him back towards his own stables. Holmes confronts the man on the matter, requesting to have a chat with him in private. Holmes works his magic, leaving the man thoroughly distraught and compliant, and he and Watson leave. In fact, they leave the area entirely, to return in time to see the race–but not before assuring the horse’s owner to leave him listed in the race.
On the day of the race, the Colonel is angry because the horse still hasn’t returned, but there is a horse racing in his place, and it wins. Holmes has the conspicuously placed mud and dirt on its leg and forehead, only to reveal–Silver Blaze!
Holmes never tells the Colonel the name of who had “sheltered” his horse for him, though he does explain that Silver Blaze was the murderer in question.
What bothers me about the story, fun though it is, is the mud on the horse. There’s no mention of this being a normal condition for race horses (particularly back when Holmes was being written), so I don’t know if it is reasonable to assume no one would be suspicious of a horse with mud precisely where a missing horse’s markings are. Otherwise, it’s a fun tale.
Interested in Silver Blaze? It can be purchased here.