Et Cetera

The Words & Writings of Sean Richmond

The Valley of Fear: A Review

English: Dust-jacket of The Valley of Fear by ... We reach the end of the cycle of Sherlock Holmes novels with the Valley of Fear, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In it, we are treated to two separate, but related, stories. The first follows Holmes and Watson as they investigate a gruesome murder that is somehow related to the dreadful Professor Moriarty (despite the fact that his involvement creates a pretty big continuity error and/or retcon on Doyle's part), which is followed by a story of organized crime in the good old US of A.

the Valley of Fear is an interesting read, and I'll be honest, I didn't like it at first. The mystery with Holmes and Watson was all well and good; the American sawed-off shotgun as the murder weapon and the possible involvement of Moriarty made for an interesting case. I liked where it was going, though I was not surprised in the least by the conclusion.

Then the story shifts gears, and we are treated to the recollections of a man who spent time in a place nicknamed the "Valley of Fear" by many of the locals, a place that is run by a secret society that has no problems killing people that refuse to pay protection money. I won't go too much further into the details for fear of spoiling the twist that made the story worthwhile, suffice to say that the end of this diversion was both interesting and a nice turn that made for a good story, overall.

While this is certainly better than the Sign of the Four, I rate it at about even with A Study in Scarlet, which it shares the same structure with. Despite this, it is nowhere near the level of the Hound of the Baskervilles, which remains the best of the Holmes canon that I have read so far.

An entertaining read, if you like reading of the adventures of Holmes and Watson, and if you enjoyed A Study in Scarlet at all, then you will certainly enjoy this. That said, this is probably not a great starting place for a newcomer.


Rating: 7/10