Sherlockian Shorts – The Yellow Face

First published 1893 in The Strand magazine, (The Adventure of) The Yellow Face is the third story in the second short story collection, The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes.

What’s It About?

Mr Grant Munro wants Holmes to find out what the secret is that seems to be driving his wife away from him. What is the secret of the strange face in the window of the nearby house? And what about the case makes it one of Sherlock Holmes’ failures?

SH Yellow FaceIs It A Mystery?

Given that Holmes himself doesn’t solve the case, then no. It’s a guessing game, and Holmes guesses wrong. There’s not even any real deduction from Holmes towards the wrong solution, just a guess really.

Is It Any Good?

Yes, it’s rather sweet actually. As a mystery tale, it’s weak, but there’s a heart to it that is missing from some of the other tales.

Anything Else?

This was one of the eighteen episodes not adapted for the Jeremy Brett series and probably for good reason. Despite the sentiment – a rather progressive one for the 1890s – this would be very hard to film without being SPOILERist. Although apparently Doyle undoes a lot of the good work here in a later tale. And also, in terms of filming it, there’s actually not a lot of story here.

Also worth noting that when mentioning this is one of Holmes’ failures, Watson mentions The Musgrave Ritual as another, despite that tale being later in the collection.

NB For the full index of my Sherlockian Shorts, please follow this link.


  1. The Yellow Face is one of my all-time favourite Holmes tales; as a mystery it doesn’t work, but it’s a superb expansion of the charatcer and I love the note it ends on. Shame there weren’t more like this…


    • One of the reasons that I was surprised by this was due to Doyle’s apparent intolerance to other things as demonstrated in A Study In Scarlet – those evil Mormons! Although I gather Doyle undoes a lot of his good work here in a later story – coming soon!


  2. “Although apparently Doyle undoes a lot of the good work here in a later tale.”
    Are you referring to The Three Gables ?


      • Arguably there’s some scope for interpretation with the issues under discussion here in The Three Gables, so will be interested on your take. And Conan Doyle’s notorious problems with continuity make this even more of a challenge…!


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