Sherlockian Shorts – The Adventure of the Retired Colourman

First published 1926, The Adventure of the Retired Colourman is the tenth story in the final collection of short stories, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

What’s It About?

Holmes is approached by Josiah Amberley, a retired paint supplier (hence “Colourman”) whose wife has apparently absconded with his young neighbour, Dr Ernest, taking a pile of cash and securities with them. Holmes is hired to track them down.

Is It A Mystery?

Um… the problem is, if you treat it like the mystery that you expect it to be, then the resolution sticks out like a sore thumb. If you weren’t well-versed in the genre, then you might be fooled, but, coming at the end of a long run of Sherlock Holmes stories, this is a bit predictable. The only stumbling block to the amateur sleuth is why the guilty party did something completely unnecessary that brought about their downfall?

Is It Any Good?

I am starting to appreciate Doyle as a writer – the characters here… well, character really, is well crafted and the story trundles along nicely. Shame it’s so obvious.

Anything Else?

I’m curious to know where this comes on people’s pecking order of stories. While the mystery was obvious – that’s the last time I’ll mention it – it was a pleasant enough read.

One comment

  1. It doesn’t come very highly on any fan’s list of favourite stories as far as I know. Like you say, it works well enough as a story, although it’s not very puzzling. In some ways it feels almost like one of those True Crime stories that you seen on TV, with the outcome pretty obvious as soon as you are introduced to the characters. Interesting to note that around the same time that he was writing this he was producing some really imaginative and effective Professor Challenger stories, as if he had got a second wind, creatively. If he had lived longer, I wonder if we would have had some more top-notch Holmes stories.


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