Plot in The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Plot Examples in The Adventure of the Speckled Band:

The Adventure of the Speckled Band 6

"before he roused himself from his reverie...."   (The Adventure of the Speckled Band)

Holmes likely solves the mystery in this moment of “reverie.” This pattern occurs in many Sherlock Holmes stories: Holmes pieces together a solution to the case before the story’s climax. In each story’s denouement, Holmes is already prepared with a lucid explanation. Holmes’s ability to crack the case before Watson and—in most cases—the reader is a large part of his mystique and appeal as a literary character.

"They seem to have been of a most interesting character—dummy bell-ropes, and ventilators which do not ventilate...."   (The Adventure of the Speckled Band)

The case is coming together for Holmes and the reader. Because this is a “locked room mystery,” Doyle is highlighting the details of the dummy bell-pull and the oddly-directed ventilation shaft—both keys to understanding how Helen’s sister was intruded upon and murdered. The tension tightens as the possibilities narrow.

"That and a tooth-brush are, I think, all that we need...."   (The Adventure of the Speckled Band)

One suspects this list—the pistol and the toothbrush—is meant to be a humorous touch. Spoiler: the toothbrush is never mentioned again in the story. Whether Holmes anticipated needing it is unclear. In retrospect, this looks like a joke.

"slip your revolver into your pocket...."   (The Adventure of the Speckled Band)

By bringing Watson’s revolver into the narrative, Doyle evokes the dramatic principle of “Chekhov’s gun.” As Anton Chekhov famously wrote, “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.” Look for the resolution to the tension of the revolver.

"Two days ago some repairs were started in the west wing of the building..."   (The Adventure of the Speckled Band)

Though Helen shares this development in the third person, it is clear that Dr. Roylott is responsible for the repairs and for potentially sinister reasons. One wonders whether Doyle uses the passive voice here to throw the reader off Roylott’s trail.

"It was early in April in the year '83..."   (The Adventure of the Speckled Band)

First published in 1892, the events in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” and Conan Doyle’s writing of it are close to contemporaneous. This time was the height of both the Victorian era in England and British rule over India, a fact important to the story’s plot.