S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.
Another Holmes tale (and there will be several more to come), The Red-headed League was, at least to me, a rather quirky affair. It could be read as a peculiar but non-criminalistic series of events (that is, the story that Mr. Jabez Wilson brings to Holmes and Watson). It could be also read as a fantastically odd, nefarious plot. But Holmes, of course, sees the true risk at stake and jumps into action, for there isn’t much time.
While the crime itself doesn’t directly harm Mr. Wilson (in fact, he comes out of it a wee bit richer than before), it is still very much a case of “if it seems too good to be true”. His sudden good fortune comes to him simply because of his remarkable hair color (though the entire plot is woven around the fact that he is the owner of the building abutting a particular bank). The fantastical series of events is tailored to him, a bespoke job if you will, just so he’ll be away from work for several long hours so that the preparations for the crime can take place without fear of being discovered.
This case (at least, as far as Holmes is concerned) is not so much a mystery as it is a satisfying end to a chase with a criminal he’d been after for some time. Mr. Wilson is none the worse for wear, short of losing his hefty new supplementary income and a worker who came at half-wages. Most of the intrigue to the story for the reader comes from the strange advert put out by The Red-headed League, and how quickly it shuttered its doors. I imagine, without Holmes’ involvement, we’d be left as confused and flustered as Mr. Wilson, wanting to keep earning that nice check but at a loss as to how. He’d likely have thought nothing of losing his odd photography-loving worker after only a month’s work; the man came at half-price and was said to have three time’s worth the skill. He would, however, wonder at the fresh tunnel remaining in his cellars (one hopes).
The Red-headed League was but a league of two, one a criminal and the other a handsomely-paid dupe.
Interested in The Red-headed League? It can be purchased here.