Tag Archives: mysteries

The Hardy Boys Volume 2 – The House on the Cliff

The Hardy Boys Volume 2 – The House on the Cliff


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(5/5)

Pros: Very entertaining read; One of Frank and Joe’s best adventures

Cons: Nothing that I haven’t said before…or plan to discuss here :p


Hello, everyone! Yes, it is I, mrroland, and I’m back at VeryHelpful.net (it really is very helpful, too) to bring you more “Hardy Boys goodness.” This week’s edition is The House on the Cliff, Frank and Joe’s second outing, and it truly turns out to be a family affair….and, quite a good read. More on this thriller in a moment, but first, let’s get the housekeeping out of the way:

Stuff I’ve Said Before

Frank, aged 18 with dark hair, and blond, 17-year-old Joe Hardy are sons of the famous private detective, Fenton Hardy, who made his reputation as a “crack” detective working for the NYPD. Frank and Joe live in the town of Bayport, USA–somewhere on the coast of New Jersey (hard to believe they may have grown up in the same town as Snooki, isn’t it?)–and are both seniors at Bayport High School. As you may have ascertained by now, they are following in their father’s footsteps as amateur detectives…and aren’t too bad in their own right, either.


Please note: As a child, Frank missed a full year of school due to an illness.

In addition to their father, Frank and Joe live at home with their mother, Laura (she is hardly ever given anything to do in these stories) and their irascible Aunt Gertrude who always has dire predictions of gloom and doom awaiting Frank and Joe…but “is secretly proud of their sleuthing abilities.”

Chet Morton is the Hardys’ best friend. He is a bit chubby, and quite fearful–but a loyal friend. Chet, in addition to providing comic relief, usually has some new hobby that always manages to tie in to the Hardys’ latest case.


Tony Prito and Biff Hooper are two other very close pals of Frank and Joe. Tony’s dad owns the Prito (how original) Construction Company and Tony, himself, has a boat: The Napoli. Biff (real name is “Allen”) is the nephew of a famous boxer–FWD forgot who, apparently–and provides much-needed muscle: “Many a criminal had felt the iron of Biff’s wallop.”

Jerry Gilroy is the “Wedge Antilles” of the Hardy Boys universe. I call Jerry “the Wedge Antilles…” because I have always (not really) thought the two characters have a lot in common: We do not know their respective back stories; they only show up every now and then–yet survive their series’ entire run. I still maintain Jerry has his own set of adventures that George Lucas, er, Grosset & Dunlap, have failed to cash in on. Maybe someday.

Finally, the Hardys’ romantic (if you want to call it that) interests are: blonde-haired Callie Shaw and Iola Morton (Chet’s raven haired sister). “Vivacious” and “fun” is what we are told about them. It seems to be true.


Pssst: If you want the inside scoop on Franklin W. Dixon, check out my review of The Tower Treasure, ok? But, I warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart.

********************

The House on the Cliff

Briefly: Frank and Joe, fresh off of solving their first case, are asked by their father to investigate a group of smugglers operating in the area….And here we thought Bayport was a quiet, friendly, seaside town….Frank and Joe are on it!….They get the gang back together and head to Telescope Hill to um, use their telescope (I know, I know *sigh*) to spy on any and all smugglers operating in Barmet Bay….Sure enough, an explosion occurs (I’m not explaining: READ the book!) aboard a merchant ship out on the water, and a man almost gets killed–except for Frank, Joe, and Co saving the day….All clues as to who caused the explosion point to an evil dude (Public Enemy #1) Felix Snattman, and his gang of goons….Frank and Joe head back to Bayport….Well, first of all, they drop the rescued dude (whose name is “Smith”  ….right) off at a farm house for treatment….It’s the 1950s, folks, no Obamacare as of yet….Mr. Hardy goes missing….Clues now point to a “house on a cliff”….The Hardys and friends investigate, but Mr. Hardy is nowhere to be found….But, one clue, a blood-stained cap, does turn up….Uh-oh….Frank and Joe (and Co.) decide to, work with me, investigate the cliff, itself….They then meet Felix Snattman….But this isn’t the scary part….And, I won’t tell you what happens next….Not even the part where Biff strips (essentially) naked in front of a large group of people in order to get a bag of drugs………….

* This is a children’s book?

……I will say this is one of the most entertaining HB stories, and you should definitely check it out.

******************

The House on the Cliff, once again, is one of Frank and Joe’s best adventures….arguably, their best. Now, yes, the ever-present plot holes are all present and accounted for here, but entertainment-wise, this is a wonderful story. The above “briefly” section only sets up the first 100 pages or so; FWD (see below) did a wonderful job with setting up the plot and then he gives us a (dare I say, epic?) roller-coaster ride of 80 pages or so to the finish. Frank and Joe do find (of course!) their father, but the path they have to take to get him to freedom is quite the harrowing–and exciting–one. FWD does a great job (I cannot state this enough) of conveying the brothers’ desperation to find–and then rescue–their father from the clutches of the smugglers….plus, we get glimpses into the psyche and insight of Frank and Joe as all of the chaos unfolds around them. Excellent work, FWD.

Going further, FWD throws us a curve ball at the story’s end. Some may not be willing to buy it, but I did as a nine year-old–and still do so, today. And, I also like that the subject of drugs was allowed (50+ years ago) to be included in this story. Certainly, no great detail is given, but that isn’t important….the realism it adds is.

So, in conclusion, this is a wonderful story with a terrific 1950s “feel” of adventure to it. Check it out sometime, okay?

Thanks for reading!

The Hardy Boys Volume 2 – The House on the Cliff

*The House on the Cliff was originally published by the Stratemeyer Syndicate in 1927, and was written by Leslie McFarlane. The revised, updated edition reviewed here was published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1959, and written by Harriet S. Adams. Thank you, Wikipedia.

**The House on the Cliff review was originally written by mrroland in 2012, and published on Epinions (RIP). This revised, completely brand-new review was also written by mrroland in 2015, and published on VeryHelpful.net.

ISBN-10: 0448089025

ISBN-13: 978-0448089027

180 pages

 

 

 

Undeniably Dry but Informative Exploration of FORBIDDEN HISTORY

FORBIDDEN HISTORY

on American Heroes Channel

or

(3/5)

Pros: Choice of topics; straight-forward presentation

Cons: Seems dry when compared to most similar programs

Premiering on British television in 2013 and picked up for broadcast on the (ahem) American Heroes Channel in the years since, documentary series Forbidden History follows the adventures and investigations of journalist Jamie Theakston as he tries to unravel various stories and facts that have been omitted from the history books. The typical, hour-long episode of Forbidden History features the usual assortment of reenactments, interviews, historical accounts, artistic renderings and photographs to present a comprehensive portrait of the topics being examined. Once a basic framework has been established, the program shifts to cover Theakston as he travels to various locations in search of clues and hard evidence. A second season of the program on AHC channel began in late May with an episode dealing with the Oracles of the Dead which existed in the ancient Greek and Roman empires. After Theakston travels to the Baia Archaeological Park and Grotto of the Sibyl near Naples, Italy and the more well-known Oracle of Delphi, the show attempts to discern whether or not these mythical sites offered an honest enlightening experience or were more a smoke and mirrors display designed to relieve attendees of their money.

xogelukkiallwtokqc7nTheakston outside the “treasure chamber” of Petra.

The synopsis of this program should sound very familiar to viewers of America Unearthed or even Destination Unknown, but Forbidden History seems somewhat more generalized, covering more far-reaching topics and is actually formatted more like a standard documentary rather than a stylized – and more obviously entertainment-oriented – reality show. Additionally, while America Unearthed host Scott Wolter and Destination Unknown’s Josh Gates are presented as dashing, semi-heroic figures that are clearly the focal points of their respective shows, Theakston seems somewhat more timid and doesn’t quite come across as the main character of Forbidden History. It’s true that the investigations covered in the show do revolve around him, but Theakston actually falls by the wayside when it comes time for the program to draw conclusions on its topics. This approach ultimately ensures that Forbidden History seems level-headed and fairly credible, at least partially because it doesn’t linger on the same sorts of obvious conspiracy theories that Wolter seems to get off on.

FHs2_grail_LAS_WEB_3_0Eyeing a possible Holy Grail.

The meat and potatoes format of Forbidden History does have a bit of a downside however: this show seems quite dry compared to other vaguely similar programs, a of sorts compared to other programs’ would-be . Theakston doesn’t remotely have the charisma of, say, a Josh Gates, and his “just the facts, ma’am” attitude means that it’s really no wonder that the show doesn’t entirely focus just on his rather humorless exploits. I’ve also got to say that the assemblage of interview subjects featured in this program is somewhat sketchy: regardless of the subject of any individual episode, the same crew of folks (including conspiracy nut and History Channel regular Alan Butler) throw in their two cents, giving the program a some alarming similarities to the increasingly suspect docu-fiction that is Ancient Aliens. I should point out that to its credit, Forbidden History makes every attempt to distinguish between actual, provable fact and outright speculation, thus it seems substantially more honest in its conclusions than proposed by the Ancient Aliens crew.

3a3a9ce91feed1384ac338901716d066You mean to tell me that Theakston doesn’t just buy everything he’s told by the people he’s interviewed?

Generally speaking, Forbidden History is put together nicely, with camerawork that places a viewer in the midst of the action and editing that keeps things moving. Subtle music cues are applied to create mood when appropriate, and the third-party narration has a tendency to offer a viewer questions and cues that promote more serious thought about the topics. Easily the best thing about this program is the range of genuinely fascinating subjects that have been covered. Episodes of this program have dealt with Nikola Tesla, the Nazi UFO project, lost treasures of Petra, Templar conspiracies, the bloodline of Christ and the mystery of the Holy Grail, the existence of giants, and even the Vatican’s cover-up of the Fatima prophecies – Forbidden History certainly covers the bases and offers up a bit of everything. Considering that many similar programs stick to a fairly predictable batch of possible topics, the undeniably eclectic scope of this show is refreshing.

hollowearthgiant1

Amazing how this show manages to tie in with various others on History Channel and beyond…

To be completely honest, Forbidden History isn’t the greatest thing on television these days, but it’s not the worst that’s out there either. This program offers a viewer exactly what would be expected from a documentary series and nothing more, but it covers some intriguing subjects and keeps things focused on actual facts. That alone is noteworthy in an era when speculative programming and outright fabrications run rampant across the television dial. Those interested in esoteric information will probably find this show worthwhile, but those used to more flashy productions may find it dull. I’d give it a moderate recommendation.

Search for the Holy Blood Line:

A Pseudoscientific Apocalypse! THE DEVIL’S GRAVEYARDS: VILE VORTICES REVEALED

THE DEVIL’S GRAVEYARDS on History Channel

(1/5)

Pros: Some thought-provoking moments

Cons: Poor acting, bad script, predictable conclusion, and precisely no scientific credibility

Produced by the same company responsible for such glorious bunk as Discovery Channel’s Megalodon specials, The Devil’s Graveyards: Vile Vortices Revealed is easily the worst of the recent slate of phony cable television documentaries which have been passed off as the real deal. Premiering in late 2014 on The History Channel, this program revolves around “investigate journalist” and apparent moron Don Murphy, who sets out to document the rather esoteric experiments being conducted in the Algerian desert by one Dr. Joseph Spencer. A biologist by trade, Spencer is investigating the reasons why his young son was murdered by the family dog two years prior, and has come to the conclusion that disruptions in the earth’s magnetic field have not only led to various instances of unusual animal behavior (including the unprovoked attack that took his son’s life) but also are threatening the whole of human existence. If a series of twelve magnetic anomalies located around the world known as , the “devil’s graveyards” of the film’s title, are not neutralized, Spencer believes that intense solar radiation will be allowed to seep into Earth’s atmosphere, thus transforming the planet into a lifeless wasteland like Venus or Mars. In an attempt to find a way to neutralize these areas, Spencer and his hapless crew attempt to bombard the Algerian vortex with a powerful electromagnetic pulse. Will this have any significant effect…and more importantly, will any single viewer care?

camera coverage
Good thing there just happens to be twelve cameras situated around the research area so a viewer gets to see everything as it happens…

Based largely on the rather sketchy theories of zoologist Dr. Ivan Sanderson who, while investigating disappearances in the , initially came up with the idea of the so-called “vile vortices,” The Devil’s Graveyard starts off with a disclaimer which states that “this dramatization is based on an actual 1972 document entitled ‘The Twelve Devil’s Graveyards Around the World.” This notice goes on to reveal that the network airing the program does not in any way endorse the claims made in it, thus one can at least say the program makes some attempt to inform an attentive viewer that not everything here can be taken entirely (or at all) seriously. That a similar warning appearing during the end titles flashes on screen for a split second speaks to the fact that the producers are more probably trying to pull a fast one on the viewer. On some level, this is (yet another) obvious extension of History Channel programming of the Ancient Aliens variety; Devil’s Graveyards goes so far as to suggest with a straight face that extraterrestrials were in fact responsible for creating the vile vortices in the first place, a suggestion that’s more idiotic than half of the alien theories presented by the likes of Giorgio Tsoukalos. It also heaps on the conspiracy theories, referencing bizarre Nazi experiments and even the controversial while blaming everything from massive bird die-offs to Hurricane Katrina on the vortex phenomenon. Needless to say, when it comes to actual hard proof and scientific evidence, Graveyard comes up short.

and here he is...
And here he is ladies and gentleman…a random actor…I mean Dr. Joseph Spencer.

Even if director Douglas Glover goes to great lengths to make Devil’s Graveyards look and play like a legit documentary however, it more seemed to me like the people responsible for this program had watched a few too many classic sci-fi movies – the show has many aspects reminiscent of the outstanding 1985 film and even has a “don’t flip that switch” moment ripped right from the playbook of the classic Ghostbusters. Furthermore, the general premise of the program isn’t entirely dissimilar from the plot of the 1953 low-budget genre flick since a radioactive isotope, not a flesh and blood monster, is the “villain” of the piece. This, of course, makes Graveyards noticeably uninteresting and plain dull when compared to the likes of Wrath of Submarine or Russian Yeti since the main “threat” presented herein is theoretical rather than something one can see.

periodic table
Sure, aliens might be readying for an invasion, but THIS IS THE REAL ENEMY!

To be honest, the vile vortex theory is simply too scientifically complex (and maybe, too ridiculous) for the average viewer to comprehend: the program does its best to explain things, but this only makes for a very talky and awkward program since the characters literally have to spell everything out for viewers who wouldn’t otherwise understand anything being discussed. I suppose the door for this kind of programming has been left open by the numerous recent television series dealing with unexplained phenomena, but I still have to question the decision to produce a feature length mockumentary about vile vortices in the first place. Could it be that the these fake documentaries have already exhausted the pool of topics to draw from?

bye

Acting throughout the program is frankly awful: we’re supposed to believe that we’re watching real people dealing with real situations, but this notion is simply impossible to swallow. Witness the laughable scene where the actor portraying Joseph Spencer recalls the death of his son, then has an “emotional” breakdown moment. This actor doesn’t do much better of a job portraying the excitement of the scientist when a breakthrough in his experiment seems evident, and it’s similarly amusing to watch the actress portraying the research team’s electrical engineer try to keep a straight face when conducting high school chem lab level experiments and demonstrations. Special attention must be paid to the actor portraying the team’s “conspiracy expert:” why this guy would be needed as part of a scientific team is unclear, but he always seems to provide definitive “A-HA” moments when the scientific gobbledygook gets a little thick. Clearly the worst actor of the bunch is the one portraying reporter Don Murphy: this guy’s “investigative reporting” is atrocious and he gives the most forced performance on display in the program – especially when he’s seen on-camera narrating his own story.

ominous music playing...
…ominous music playing…

Combine the bad acting with the lousy scripting and absurd, utterly outlandish theories the show puts forward and you’ve got the most abominable of the recent, made-for-cable faux-documentaries. The Devil’s Graveyard not only looks cheap and hastily-made, but is extremely clunky in terms of its construction. The prime example of how this production is simply incompetent is the use of “actual cell phone footage” of Dr. Spencer’s son being attacked by his dog: I would assume this sequence was supposed to be dramatic, but it’s downright humorous after being repeated for about the fifteenth time. Compounding the problem is a sense of story development that is overall too tidy and convenient to be a convincing portrayal of reality. Finally, the film leans heavily on explanations that most viewers wouldn’t even remotely be able to decipher: there’s simply too much scientific nonsense presented as absolute fact here, and I suspect the bullshit detecters of most viewers would be sounding throughout the film. Does this program propose some intriguing ideas and offer up some food for thought? Sure: it’s compelling in the same way that most programs dealing with mysterious phenomena are. At the end of the day however, why would one waste his time with a completely illogical and mind-numbingly phony program like this – especially one that’s undeniably this poorly made? (Interesting note: the studio responsible for this program doesn’t even list it among its credits; perhaps they too realized what hogwash they had brought onto the world.) Predictable and ultimately, a complete waste of time, The Devil’s Graveyards is best avoided.

wtf science

This Youtube Video is about as quality as the “documentary:”

Surveying The Spooky Side of American Folklore: MONSTERS AND MYSTERIES IN AMERICA

MONSTERS AND MYSTERIES IN AMERICA

image-placeholder

(3.5/5)

Pros: Straight-faced, “You Decide” approach

Cons: Doesn’t try and prove anything: this merely presents various myths and legends

Since the late 1970s, there have been a string of speculative documentary television shows that examine various mysterious phenomena from around the world. After programs like In Search Of… pioneered the genre, shows such as Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World, Unsolved Mysteries, and Sightings would continue this type of programming, with a new series seeming to pop up every decade or so. By the 2000s, public fascination with monsters and the unknown was pretty well established, and by the end of the decade, more specialized types of programming were hitting the airwaves – Monster Quest and Destination: Truth for example focused almost exclusively on the hunt for unknown animals (or monsters if you like), while other programs (such as the endless variety of Ghost Hunter type shows) had their own specialties. Starting in 2013, the Destination America channel (home to the positively ludicrous Mountain Monsters series that’s like Finding Bigfoot for morons) started airing Monsters and Mysteries in America. This program examines a variety of unknown occurrences taking place in the United States, with each episode typically focusing on the myths and legends of one state or region.

After a six episode first season which took a virtual tour of the regions of the country (Appalachia, the Badlands, Ozarks, etc.) and the monster myths associated with each one, season two of this program began in December 2013 with a twelve episode run. This second season continued in much the same manner as the first, even if the individual shows didn’t declare that they were about specific regions of the country. In a similar manner to Dark Matters: Twisted but True, each episode of Monsters and Mysteries in America chronicles a trio of stories dealing with reports of monsters or strange occurrences. While many of the topics discussed in this series deal with cryptozoology (i.e. the study of unknown animals; basically, a fancy, scientific name for the study of supposed “monsters”), some focus on such topics as alien abductions or more supernatural types of phenomena.

skinwalker
“…eyes forward. Just keep walking…!!”

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the program is the fact that, even if the show does cover some relatively well-documented incidents or stories like that of the , , or the tale of alien abductees , many times the producers go out of their way to feature stories that aren’t typically covered in these types of shows. Thus, things like the Pukwudgie, , and get an equal amount of airtime. Having been a mystery/crypto buff for decades, I like the fact I wasn’t previously familiar with some of these stories – a definite bonus after hearing and seeing the same accounts over and over again for years. Although some of these accounts seem almost inconsequential, it’s cool that this series “covers the bases” and examines a wide variety of topics, from Bigfoot to lake monsters, aliens to shadow people.

Running an hour in length during its broadcasts, each topic covered in the episodes is given about fifteen minutes of screentime. Eyewitnesses and persons who can corroborate their accounts typically narrate their story while recreations of the incidents (with actors portraying the roles) are seen. Following this, there’s some examination of any physical evidence relating to the case as well as some explanation provided by supposed experts or historians. I should mention that this show relies a lot more on artists’ rendering of any of the creatures and events discussed than on any physical or photographic evidence, which is a little disappointing. On the other hand, the program does do a superb job of making the recreations seem genuinely creepy. Presented in a very cinematic manner, these dramatizations are accompanied by special effects, spooky music and sound cues, and a palpable sense of dread. Though they are occasionally goofy, the recreations here are far and away better than those seen in shows like Finding Bigfoot and Monster Quest mainly because Monsters and Mysteries doesn’t over-rely on cheesy, computer-generated graphics.

eyes
Beware – the eyes of the MOTHMAN!

With so many similar shows already on the air and more which seem to pop up regularly, Monsters and Mysteries in America would have to do something special to really stand out from the crowd, and I think to an extent that this program does. As shows like Mountain Monsters and Uncovering Aliens have pushed credibility beyond the breaking point and stuff like Finding Bigfoot and Ancient Aliens have become so predictable and formulaic that they’re no longer very fun to watch, Monster and Mysteries in America has done the unthinkable: taken itself seriously. There’s no denying that some of the material in this show is ridiculous to the point of being unintentionally hilarious, but the tone of the program is (to its credit) refreshingly sober. I also have to say that the eyewitnesses in this program are usually pretty convincing in their descriptions and explanations and often seem to be genuinely affected by the process of recounting their story (“I’ve never seen the Lord Jesus Christ, but I have seen “). Whether what they say happened is true or not, one gets the feeling that most definitely believe they saw or experienced something unusual.

On the downside, the show’s creative staff makes no attempt at all to disprove any of the stories featured in the program. I can understand that this show is mainly there to examine popular (and not-so well-known) myths and legends, but when you’ve got a program making outrageous claims, it sometimes helps to at least try to make it seem like the people telling the story are credible. An episode I watched that dealt with the evil gnome-like was centered on a story told by what seemed to me to be a very enthusiastic (and potentially a bit, shall we say “eccentric”) older gentleman. To say I wasn’t convinced by his story was putting it nicely, and some accompanying video footage that supposedly shows a Pukwudgie lurking in a blueberry bush while a woman convulses on the ground as if she’s been possessed simply didn’t do it for me. Any of the “experts” interviewed about the topics featured in these episodes do little more than rattle off additional information supposedly known about the creatures/circumstances discussed; they don’t offer up many opinions or any sort of analysis. In the end, Monsters and Mysteries in America is very ambiguous, leaving it up to the viewer to sift through the information (and scant actual evidence) provided while sort of assuming that a viewer is of the “I want to believe” persuasion.

drawing
This program relies much more on stories and drawings than actual evidence of any type, which has its good and bad aspects.

I guess the best thing I can say about Monsters and Mysteries in America is that this show generally doesn’t inspire the usual “eye-roll and groan” response that most similar TV programs seem to provoke. The producers here don’t seem particularly interested in taking a real stand on any of the topics, instead, they provide information from the people who supposedly experienced or witnessed these events. Honestly, I like this ambiguous, “here’s the story; you decide” approach better than the “lets invent a monster whether it’s here or not” mindset that permeates shows like Mountain Monsters or Finding Bigfoot. Though Monsters and Mysteries is another program about the unknown that’s unlikely to ever present hard evidence supporting any of its claims, I’d call this the best of the current batch of monster-related TV programming.

Goofy? Sure, but this segment about “black-eyed children” is more than a little creepy:

Doyle’s third attempt to stop writing Sherlock Holmes stories

His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle

HisLastBow

(3.5/5)

Pros: the three preceding it

Cons: replace this with your list of cons

The title story “His Last Bow” of the 1917 collection of seven Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle titled His Last Bow was the author’s third attempt to cease the series of Holmes stories. It turns out to be the last one in Holmes’s chronology (set in 1914), though there was to be one more collection, “The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes” in 1927.

The title story is unusual in being a spy story (with Holmes pretending to be Irish and selling phony state secrets to the Germans in the 1910-14 period before WWII began). It is also unusual in not being narrated by Dr. Watson. It is in the third person…. And not one of the strongest stories in the volume. For a spy story, it is inferior to “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans.”

My favorite from this volume is the one Conan Doyle wrote just before it (in 1913), .” In which Holmes also plays a part in order to lure a malefactor (in this instance a murderer) into incriminating himself. Watson plays a substantial part in that and in “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax”  (published in 1911, set in 1901) in which he is sent by Holmes to France to try to find the lady who has ceased to write her old governess every week. It is this Miss Dobney who seeks Holmes’s help. There is a phony cleric, jewels, and a complicated plot.

In the other of my favorite stories herein, “The Case of the Devil’s Foot,” Watson and Holmes are together. The mystery involves poison, which is sort of in the medical realm. This story is also one in which the client who retains Holmes is killed and one in which Holmes decides to dispense justice rather than concern himself with the mandates of the law.

Not just in this collection, but in general, it seems that many of the stories involve returned expatriates (whether from Australia, North America, or Africa, or just Ulster), sometimes as clients, sometimes as threatening assailants, pursuing revenge from elsewhere. Not all that many Brits killing other Brits who have not lived elsewhere. The exiled Central American tyrant, “the tiger of San Pedro” in the long, two-part “Adventure of the Wisteria Lodge” is one instance (as is his would-be avenger/pursuer, the Italian-New York Red Circle is another).

And as Ronald A. Knox put it, “Watson provides what the Holmes drama needs— Chorus. He represents the solid, orthodox, respectable view of the world in general, his drabness is accentuated by contrast with the limelight which beats upon the central figure. He remains stable amid the eddy and flux of circumstance.”