Sherlockian Shorts – The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet

First published in May 1892 in The Strand Magazine, The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet is the eleventh story in the first collection of short stories, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

What’s It About?

Holmes is approached by a banker who has loaned £50000 to a mysterious member of British society. As collateral for this short-term loan, he has been given the Beryl Coronet, a well-known and extraordinarily valuable public possession – i.e. part of the Crown Jewels. Wouldn’t you know it, but there is an attempt to steal it in the night, apparently by the banker’s son. While the coronet is still there, part of it, containing three beryls, has been broken off and cannot be found. So while the banker moans and beats his head against the wall, Holmes investigates.

Is It A Mystery?

Yes. There is this time a decent list of suspects to the theft – a couple of family members, a servant, a live-in ne’er-do-well, and the solution is quite surprising. It does require a bit of a jump to work it out without Holmes’ knowledge of footprints in the snow, but I think it can be done.

Is It Any Good?

Yes, it’s not one of the classics, but it’s a solid enough little tale, made stronger by not having an obvious villain.

Anything Else?

Points off for the behaviour of the banker in Holmes’ study – he does literally bash his head against the wall – people don’t really do that (do they?) and more points off for the character who seems to be willing to go to jail because someone has slighted him – yes, there’s no non-circumstantial evidence but he’s still making life hard for himself. Points awarded for Holmes laying down the law as to what the banker has to do to sort things out.

6 comments

  1. This has always been a personal favourite of mine. I love how the entire situation is so upside down– you start by thinking X is a villain and then in turns out that in his own way, X was a noble hero. It’s the kind of twisteroo that I really like.

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  2. I’m really pleased that you’re enjoying the Holmes short stories so much. BERYL CORONET is another ‘wrong way round’ puzzle, which resemble those trick pictures which can be one thing or another depending on which way you look at them. Like Patrick, I really love that kind of story.

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  3. […] It’s one of only two tales narrated by Holmes – the other is The Adventure Of  The Lion’s Mane – and it does include the legendary line “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” There are similar lines in The Sign Of Four and The Adventure Of The Beryl Coronet. […]

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