The Engineer’s Thumb


Basic Information

Abbreviation: ENGR (J. F. Christ, 1947)
Word length: 8,342 (C. E. Lauterbach, 1960)
First published: Strand Magazine, March 1892

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think that the repeated note of Mr. Hatherley being both an orphan and a bachelor is significant, despite the fact that it was never explained in the story?
  • Why was there such a need for secrecy surrounding the task Mr. Hatherley was asked to perform?
  • Why was Holmes interested in the horse?  How did this aid him in discovering the location of the incident?
  • What was the hydraulic press really being used for?
  • Given the circumstances, why do you think that the German woman was quick to warn and help out Mr. Hatherley?
  • Holmes points out an article with eerie similarities between the way an engineer disappeared earlier and what happened to Mr. Hatherley.  Why do you think this was overlooked by Mr. Hatherley in the first place, considering how popular newspapers were in the 1800s?
  • Why were the wooden walls vital for both Mr. Hatherley’s escape and the destruction of the press?
  • This is an instance where Holmes and Watson were unable to bring the criminals to justice.  What do you think happened to them?
  • Given the mysterious nature of the job, and the German woman’s warning, would you have insisted on completing the job in favor of the money, or would you have turned the Colonel away?
  • What does Holmes tell Mr. Hatherley he gained from the experience?