‘A Case Of Identity’ by Arthur Conan Doyle

Doyle, Arthur Conan 1891b

A Case Of Identity by Arthur Conan Doyle, 1891

The magic trick:

Providing the classic mystery-story template

This is a fitting Sherlock selection for this, our Murder-Mystery Week at SSMT. It is, after all, a sort of textbook for structuring a mystery story.

Consider that in part one we get the layout of the mystery. In the next act, we get a brief outline of Sherlock’s gameplan on the case. Then we get the reveal – and this really is classic stuff here – of Sherlock’s solution to the guilty party. As a coda, there is a second reveal, where Sherlock explains to Watson how he figured it all out.

Remarkably tidy structure, and one that pretty much set the template for every mystery story in print and on television for the next century. And that’s quite a trick on Doyle’s part.

The selection:

“There’s a cold-blooded scoundrel!” said Holmes, laughing, as he threw himself down into his chair once more. “That fellow will rise from crime to crime until he does something very bad, and ends on a gallows. The case has, in some respects, been not entirely devoid of interest.”

“I cannot now entirely see all the steps of your reasoning,” I remarked.


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