First published 1922 in The Strand Magazine, The Problem of Thor Bridge is the second story in the final collection of short stories, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.
What’s It About?
Holmes is approached by Neil Gibson, an ex-senator of the USA, now resident in the UK. His wife has been murdered at Thor Bridge and his children’s governess, Grace Dunbar, whom he has formed an attachment to, stands accused of the crime. All of the evidence points to Miss Dunbar, but is it a clever frame? And by whom?
Is It A Mystery?
Yes – a very clever little puzzle indeed. A whodunit with a rather nice little solution.
Is It Any Good?
Definitely. I’ll say no more about the plot for fears of spoilers, but the characters are well-drawn, in particular Gibson, who could have been an arrogant unlikeable man, but you find yourself sympathising with his predicament – well, I did, anyway.
Well, I did work out what had happened, but I’ve a funny feeling that the plot had been spoiled for me in another work – possibly one of the Sam Hawthorne stories by Edward D Hoch involving a… oh, can’t say that without giving a spoiler.
Already, I’m starting to regret my youthful indiscretion at writing off Mr Holmes. This was a really nice little mystery and completely absorbing. Recommended.
This is a classic mystery in the sense that there is a problem to be solved and does so very neatly. And I think I know the Hoch story you mean if it’s in one of the C&L anthologies. You seem to have picked a lot of the later stories so focus on initially, which are generally held in less regard – any special reason for this?
Um… my deeply sad random story generator. I did a spreadsheet, assigned a random number to each story and then sorted it. And then forgot to do The Reigate Puzzle…
As for the Hoch story – thinking about it, it’s the as-yet-uncollected The Second Problem of the Covered Bridge, as this involves another death on the covered bridge from the initial story, but this one is an impossible shooting. The Thor Bridge… thing is mentioned in enough detail to give away the Holmes story and dismissed as unworkable.
Well, we’re in total agreement on this. Superb little puzzle, with some very subtle characterisation. Gibson and the other characters feel like real people, and they seem to exist before and after the tale is told. I do like the scene where Holmes loses his temper with Gibson, outraged at his attempts at seducing Dunbar. Watson often calls Holmes unemotional, but moments like this show a much more passionate individual.