Is Sherlock Holmes really as rational as he seems? He talks about the importance of reasoning and logic, but why then does he sometimes seem like a “strange Buddha”? On the other hand, why in The Sign of the Four does Watson smash a Buddha? What is going on in The Sign of the Four, that strange tale of Empire? What is going on in all the original sixty stories in “the canon”?
In this study of the stories, Sheldon Goldfarb explores questions like these, from the significance of the eggs in “Thor Bridge” to the reason Watson keeps leaving Holmes for an insubstantial wife. What meanings lurk beneath the surface of these detective stories? Why is there an obsession with Napoleon in this story or an article on free trade in this other? Can we find answers to these questions?
Perhaps. In any case, in this collection of essays (or “Musings”) on each of the 60 stories, Dr. Goldfarb, an award-nominated mystery writer himself and the holder of a PhD in English literature, light-heartedly tries out a variety of perspectives, allowing readers to come to their own conclusions about such matters as the nature of the angel in “A Case of Identity” or the reason Holmes abandons his magnifying glass for binoculars in “Silver Blaze.” Who brings binoculars to a horse race? Indeed.