BOOK REVIEW: THE RED HEADED LEAGUE: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Khidki (Window)

–Read Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    The Red-Headed League is one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes, short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It first appeared in The Strand Magazine in August 1891, with illustrations by Sidney Paget, a British illustrator of the Victorian era, best known for his illustrations that accompanied Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. Conan Doyle ranked, “The Red-Headed League” second in the list of his twelve favourite Holmes stories. It is also the second of the twelve stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which was published in 1892.

    Plot:

    Wilson, a London pawnbroker, comes to consult Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. While studying the prospective client Wilson, both Holmes and Watson notice his prominent red hair, which has a distinct flame-like hue. Wilson tells them that some weeks ago, his young assistant, one Vincent Spaulding, urged him to respond to a newspaper recruitment-ad, offering highly-paid work to only, red-headed male applicants.

    The very next morning, Wilson waited in a long line of fellow red-headed men. He was interviewed, and was the only applicant hired. None of the other applicants qualified, because their red hair, was either too dark or too bright, and did not match Wilson’s unique flame colour.

    Wilson tells Holmes, that his business has been struggling.

    Since his own pawn shop did most of its business in the evenings, he was able to leave his shop for short periods in the afternoon, receiving £4 a week for several weeks, when his assistant Vincent Spaulding used to manage the shop. The work in his new office was of a useless clerical nature in a bare office, that only performed, a nominal work, whereupon, he was made to copy the Britannica Encyclopaedia.

    Wilson learned much about the subject starting with the “A” section and looked forward to getting into the “B” section of the Encyclopaedia. But, surprisingly, one morning, a sign on the locked office door, inexplicably announced, that “THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE IS DISSOLVED”—Oct. 9, 1890.” Wilson went to the landlord, who said that he had never heard of Duncan Ross, the person who managed the league office.

    The landlord, however, did remember the tenant with scarlet (red) hair and gives him a card which directs Wilson to an artificial knee company. Wilson concludes the conversation, by expressing his frustration at losing the precious £4 a week job. Watson and Holmes, laugh at Wilson, because of the ridiculous situation, but Holmes assures Wilson that by Monday they will solve the case for him.

    Wilson leaves after having given the detective a description of his young assistant Spaulding.

    Holmes decides to go and see Spaulding, whom, Holmes notices, has dirty trouser knees. Holmes, then taps on the pavement in front of Wilson’s shop. With that     Holmes is sure the case is solved. He therefore, calls Police Inspector Jones, along with Mr. Merryweather, a director in the bank located next door.

    The four then hide themselves in the bank vault, waiting in the dark for over an hour until the two men emerge from a tunnel cut into the vault’s floor and are arrested. They are John Clay, who has a long history in criminal activity already, and his helper Archie. Under the aliases of Spaulding and Ross.

    They had contrived the ‘Red-Headed League’ rigmarole to keep Wilson out of his shop while they dug a tunnel in the basement to reach the vault.

    Although, paying Wilson £4 a week was expensive, it was a pittance compared to the shipment of gold coins they were planning to steal.

    Back at the Baker Street, Holmes, explains to Watson, how he solved the case, applauding Clay’s creativity and regretting that such a mind has been wasted on crime.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

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ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi; Available for reading in Indian National Bibliography, March 2016, in the literature section, in Central Reference Library, Ministry of Culture, India, Belvedere, Kolkata-700022)

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(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be the undying characteristics of Lucknow. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014. It is included for reading in Askews and Holts Library Services, Lancashire, U.K.)

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Short stories and Articles published in Bhavan’s Journal: Reality and Perception, 15.10.19; Sending the Wrong Message, 31.5.20; Eagle versus Scholars June, 15 & 20 2020; Indica, 15.8.20; The Story of King Chitraketu, August 31 2020; Breaking Through the Chakravyuh, September 30 2020. The Questioning Spouse, October 31, 2020; Happy Days, November 15, 2020,

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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