Sherlockian Shorts – The Adventure of the Priory School

First published in 1904, The Adventure of the Priory School is the fifth story in the third collection of short stories, The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

What’s It About?

Holmes is visited by Dr Theodore – sorry, Thornycroft Huxtable, who begs him to come to the North of England to investigate the apparent kidnapping of the ten-year-old Lord Saltire from his school. There is a large reward for his safe return, but Huxtable is concerned that one of his teachers, who is also missing, is involved in the crime. And soon it becomes a case of murder…

Is It A Mystery?

Yes, although there is a bit of a dearth of suspects. Despite this, however, Conan Doyle does a good job of hiding the whole truth, admittedly by making it a bit over-complicated.

Is It Any Good?

The bit about the cow tracks aside – not convinced that would work – this is a great read. Well plotted with Holmes failing to display any magical deductions that tends to get on my nerves sometimes…

Anything Else?

Apparently this was Conan Doyle’s tenth favourite Holmes story. Having said that, The Adventure of the Empty House was his sixth favourite, so his tastes were a little eclectic.



  1. Speaking of Sherlock Holmes, there’s a new book which was translated by John Pugmire—The Killing Needle by Henry Cauvin. The protagonist—Maximillian Heller—sounds an awful lot like Sherlock Holmes, but this book was written in 1871—16 years before Conan Doyle’s A Study In Scarlet. Anyway, the paper and Kindle book is available on Amazon if you’re interested…


  2. The French Wikipedia article on Henry Cauvin clearly states that Conan Doyle was inspired by the character Maximilien Heller to create Sherlock Holmes.
    I have read the book and my review is available at


    • I’m about 20% through the book so I’ll let you know what happens when I finish it, but there is one thing that Conan Doyle’s Holmes does that Cauvin’s Heller does not. Heller doesn’t (so far) make the snap deductions that Holmes makes after meeting somebody for the first time. But this “philosopher” does remind me a lot of “the great detective.”


      • I found a minor error in the kindle edition.( I don’t know whether it occurs in the paperback also.) In the chapter Epilogue, the 3rd para begins as “Immediately upon his return from Paris…”, whereas it should be “Immediately upon his return to Paris….”


      • And,yes, you are right. Heller doesn’t make the snap deductions that Holmes makes. For this aspect of Holmes, the inspiration was Dr. Joseph Bell.


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