First published 1924, The Adventure of the Illustrious Client is the sixth story in the final collection of The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.
What’s It About?
Holmes is approached concerning General de Melville’s daughter, Violet, who has fallen in love with Baron Adelbert Gruner, a violent piece of work who, it is presumed, killed at least one of his previous wives. Holmes’ “Illustrious Client” who wishes to remain anonymous wants Holmes to convince Violet to break off her engagement, but is seems that love is truly blind…
Is It A Mystery?
Nope. Not one iota.
Is It Any Good?
Well, I didn’t think much of it. The notion that Baron Gruner, who is, apparently, as evil as Moriarty, keeps a scrapbook of “Women I Have Wronged” is rather ludicrous and he seems rather easily outwitted by Holmes. Similarly, the idea that Watson could believe that he could remotely pull of Holmes’ planned distraction makes him out to be rather thick.
Anything Else To Say?
Is it just me or is this a bit of a re-write of A Scandal In Bohemia, only with Holmes winning this time? Mysterious client, theft of evidence by distraction… maybe it’s just me.
I’ve always thought that it’s one of the best of the later stories. No, it isn’t a mystery, but not all of the Holmes stories are. It’s a very tense little thriller, and the characterisation (especially the women) is very good. Gruner not only wrongs women, he actually murders some of them, so the scrapbook is only too convincing. It is known that serial murderers like to keep a memento from each of their killings, so they can relive their murders in private The. scrapbook obviously serves this function for Gruner. He isn’t really outwitted by Holmes, who only gets away with the book by the skin of his teeth. As for Watson, his job is to keep Gruner occcupied for a few minutes. The priceless dish that he shows the Baron is there to tantalise him. Every minute that he can give Holmes will help him to succeed. How does this make him thick?
I’m not criticising it for not being a mystery – just commenting on the fact that, given the nature of my blog – there’s no mystery involved.
As for Watson, the reason I accused him of being think (an overstatement, I’ll happily admit) is that he doesn’t seem to twig why he’s doing what Holmes asked him to do when I presumed, especially given his previous experience with Holmes, it was pretty obvious.
The characterisation of Kitty is good, I agree with you there, but I’m not convinced about the unquestionning Violet, although admittedly she appears less. Maybe it’s my wishful thinking that any woman in such a situation would see the Baron for what he was earlier, but it’s sadly not the case as the news tells us every day.
I’d have thought that if Gruner was the “Moriarty”-alike that Holmes claims he is, then he would know what Watson looks like.
End of the day, you clearly enjoyed it more than I did. Maybe we’ll disagree in the opposite sense for the other later books.
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