Ralph Edwards - Fri, 13 May 1994
Underneath the mystery in this tale is,
of course, a story of true love, a story that resembles The Devil's
Foot but with a happier ending. Through no fault of his own, "Holy
Peters" is guilty of no murder, though certainly of a few other offences.
Do these compromises with tragedy and death weaken the story or strengthen
From Baden to Brixton. . . . .from the Langham to the workhouse. . . . .from an English earldom to a Biblical kingdom. . . . .the story we start this weekend is a real study in contrasts! It's that intriguing tale called The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax. My questions and comments:
Lady Frances Carfax was almost alone in
the world, the drifting remnant of an aristocratic family. When her father,
the Earl of Rufton, died she was left without very much in the way of financial
resources. Yet her inheritance, such as it was, was sufficient to enable
her to roam about the Continent with her personal maid Marie Devine, never
staying for more than a few weeks in any one place. Then she vanished.
She dismissed her maid for unknown reasons, and no one saw any more of
Lady Frances once she left Lausanne, Switzerland, with a huge, black-bearded
ruffian, described as "a veritable savage," on her track. Her concerned
relatives turned to Sherlock Holmes for assistance.
In a few minutes, the Mâitre de Chasse will sound his great horn to summon the Hounds to the trail of Lady Frances Carfax. It is a cold scent, and the Hounds will have to cross the English Channel to resume their pursuit of the missing aristocrat in the swarming streets of London. At the end of the trail lies a crime which Holmes described as "new to me in the annals of crime."
This is a good story, although perhaps a
bit overlong. I think Holmes exaggerates, however, when he describes the
concept of burying two persons in one coffin under one death certificate
as "new to me in the annals of crime," given his studies in "Sensational
Literature." Watson describes his knowledge of the subject as "Immense.
He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century."
And does anyone agree with me that the Hon. Philip Green is not a very
sympathetic figure as the heroic champion of a damsel in danger?
Brad Keefauver - Thu, 19 Jul 2001
My latest reading of LADY started out with a series of questions: Who might have shared Watson's cab? How does one tie a shoelace into a double bow? Why is a friendless woman often "...the most useful of mortals?" Could anyone just "glance over" another person's bank records without the consent of the account holder? And isn't it curious that "...it had been remarked by the servants that the heavy trunk in the lady's bedroom was always scrupulously locked?" How would the servants know this unless they had tried to open it? Was there some system in place among London pawnbrokers whereby they could be alerted to be on the watch for certain items which might be pawned? And was the system so efficient that suspect items could be reported to the authorities within the time frame allowed in this story?
Holmes accused Watson of bungling his end of the investigation, yet he sent Watson to Lausanne while the real source of pertinent information, Susan Dobney, was in England. In the absence of the assistance Miss Dobney could provide, how else could Watson have proceeded, other than as he did?
When the coffin was brought out of the house on Poultney Square, Watson says that it was "supported by three men." That seems to be an unusual number of pallbearers. And, given that the coffin actually contained not only the wasted body of Rose Spender but of Lady Frances also, might the combined weight of coffin and contents have been greater than could be borne by only three men? And what was it about the coffin-lid that required the combined strength of three or more men to remove it once the lid had been unscrewed?
Rosemary Michaud - Thu, 25 May 2000
Return to Introducing the 60 Stories
Brad Keefauver - Thu, 19 Jul 2001