Ralph Edwards - Fri, 8 Apr 1994
In an award-winning article about Wisteria
Lodge, Edward F. Clark observed that the story is poorly understood
because, among other things, "we don't read it very often" compared to
the more famous and popular stories in the Canon. Are some stories in fact
read more often than others? And if this is one of the more often neglected
Talk about your disaster dinner parties: The host's mind wandered, the conversation failed, the food was bad, the servant was a regular Lurch - what would Miss Manners do in a situation like this? We'll see how John Scott Eccles handled the evening as we read our next story, The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge. My Q's & Comments. . . .
John Scott Eccles had just undergone what
he termed "a most incredible and grotesque experience." So jarring was
it that he lost little time in consulting Sherlock Holmes, the explainer
of the inexplicable. Yet just as Eccles was beginning to relate his story,
who should visit 221B Baker Street but Inspector Gregson and another police
official, looking for Eccles in connection with the mysterious and brutal
death of his host of the previous evening.
After hearing Eccles's tale of woe, Inspector Gregson was convinced that he had had nothing to do with Mr. Garcia's death. But the circumstances surrounding that death were so bizarre that Holmes and Watson felt it necessary to visit the scene of the crime. In a few minutes, the Mâitre de Chasse will unleash the Hounds upon a scent which contains elements of despotism, voodoo, and vengeance. The trail begins in Latin America and winds through Europe before it leads to the body of a man, his head beaten in, lying in the Oxshott Common.
I sometimes feel that WIST
started off like STUD may have: Too long for a short
story; not long enough for a novel. For all its relative length, however,
there isn't much mystery or substance to the tale, IMHO. But I note the
appearance of the redoubtable Inspector Baynes, who from all appearances
is nearly the equal of the Master Detective, at least in this Adventure.
Indeed, it was Baynes who learned the true identity of "Mr. Henderson"
and his secretary through true detective work: checking "Henderson's" travels
back until his country of origin was revealed. Holmes did not trouble himself
to do this. Baring-Gould places this Adventure as having occurred in 1890;
could it be that Watson delayed publishing the story for 18 years out of
a sense of embarrassment for Holmes, who was at the peak of his powers
in the 1890's?
Brad Keefauver - Thu, 14 Jun 2001
Just the first couple of paragraphs brought several questions to mind:
1. No dictionaries, now, how would you define "grotesque?"
2. Is "Scott Eccles" a compound surname?
3. Why wouldn't a woman send a reply-paid telegram instead of appearing in person?
Gregson said that he was led to 221B by Eccles's wire to Holmes. Was Scotland Yard in the custom of sifting through the myriad telegrams sent throughout London and beyond each day? Or, if Scotland Yard inspectors had John Scott Eccles in view at the time he sent his telegram, why didn't they detain him on the spot, at Charing Cross Station?
Miss Burnet/Signora Durando was a governess to Don Murillo's children. It is inconceivable that she did not speak Spanish, particularly as her late husband had Spanish as his native tongue. Why did she write the fatal note to Garcia in English?
For those among us who are conversant with voodoo rituals, what might the mummified object left behind by Murillo's cook have been, and what did it symbolize? And for the medicos, would strong coffee rapidly overcome the effects of opium?
Miss Burnet/Signora Durando says of Don Murillo, "'He escaped as you have just described.'" As who just described? The description of Murillo's escape from San Pedro is related to us in the form of a mental "flashback" by Watson. It was not spoken aloud. Was Miss Burnet a psychic, a mind-reader?
Rosemary Michaud - Thu, 20 Apr 2000
Return to Introducing the 60 Stories
Brad Keefauver - Thu, 14 Jun 2001