TROUBLE CITY

Catching Up with Sherlock #18

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Banner art by Chelsea Sprauer

Everyone’s heard of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, but how much do you really know about the residents of 221B Baker Street? In addition to four novellas (one of which we covered at GUY.Com), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote five collections of 56 short stories starring the world-famous detective and his faithful associate. We’ll be spotlighting 20 of them, to get you caught up just in time for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. All of these stories are public domain, so find a free copy online and read along!

The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone

Found in: “The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes”

The Case: A crown diamond has been stolen, and British government officials have hired Holmes to track it down. Sherlock easily finds the culprits, though he still has to learn where they’ve hidden the diamond before they succeed in killing him.

The Solution: *Sherlock listens in on a conversation between the two villains while posing as a wax dummy.*

Impressions and Fingerprints: This is one of only four stories that aren’t told from Watson’s POV, and one of two that are told from a third-person perspective. This turns out to be necessary, as the story is structured in such a way that we need to hear a particular conversation going on in private, without any knowledge of what Sherlock and Watson are doing in the background.

Actually, Watson plays a depressingly small role in this story. For the most part, his role has been partly co-opted by a young man named Billy, whom Sherlock brought on as a second assistant for whatever reason. Thankfully, he only appears in two other Holmes tales.

The 2009 movie borrowed two notable elements from this story. One of them is the large diamond in Irene Adler’s possession, which is heavily implied to be the Mazarin Stone itself. The other is Lord Blackwood, whose name is derived from Count Negretto Sylvius (Negretto is Italian for “black” and sylvius is Latin for “woods”).

Finally, it’s worth noting that Count Sylvius proves himself to be a very intimidating villain in this story, and he’s definitely become a fan favorite in the years since.

Is it still worth it? The solution to this case is pretty weak, and Billy is certainly no Watson. Still, this is still worth looking into, if only because it’s one of the canon’s better-known stories.

Part 20: "The Last Bow" Part 19: "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" Part 18: "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" Part 17: "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange" Part 16: "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" Part 15: "The Adventure of the Empty House" Part 14: "The Final Problem" Part 13: "The Naval Treaty" Part 12: "The Crooked Man" Part 11: "The Reigate Puzzle" Part 10: "The Greek Interpreter" Part 9: "The Musgrave Ritual" Part 8: "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" Part 7: "Silver Blaze" Part 6: "The Five Orange Pips" Part 5: "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" Part 4: "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" Part 3: "A Case of Identity" Part 2: "A Scandal in Bohemia" Part 1: "The Red-Headed League"