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The Adventure of the Reigate Squire: Summary & Analysis

Instructor: Joseph Altnether

Joe has taught college English courses for several years, has a Bachelor's degree in Russian Studies and a Master's degree in English literature.

Away from London to recuperate, Sherlock Holmes becomes entangled in a neighborhood murder in '~'~The Adventure of the Reigate Squire.~'~' A burglary and murder are tied together, but the clues don't add up. Sherlock puts his illness to good use to uncover the culprits.

Recovery

Why is Sherlock Holmes so popular? Perhaps it is due to his mental abilities. He can find a solution to the most difficult problem, even when it seems that there is no solution. He is strong-willed and very determined. He never yields. What about his strength and stamina? These qualities garner little discussion, and yet they help make Sherlock into the formidable investigative sleuth that he is. Doyle brings these qualities to the forefront a bit more than usual in ''The Adventure of the Reigate Squire.''

The story opens with Sherlock busy on another investigation. Watson mentions the severe strain Sherlock has been under during the course of this investigation. Watson gets a call requesting his presence immediately in Lyons, France, as Sherlock is ''lying ill in the Hotel Dulong.'' Sherlock's ''iron constitution...had broken down under the strain of the investigation.'' Although this particular story really begins after this event, it is important to note how durable and resilient Sherlock is, not just mentally, but physically as well.

Murder

Watson has an acquaintance who recently relocated to a ''house near Reigate in Surrey.'' This individual is Colonel Hayter, and he was a patient of Watson's ''in Afghanistan.'' Watson accepts an invitation to visit and convinces Sherlock to accompany him. The expectation is that Sherlock will not be preoccupied by any potential cases, and will have time to recover from his recent ordeal. By the end of their first evening there, Sherlock finds himself embroiled in yet another case.

Colonel Hayter mentions that a neighbor has recently been robbed. Sherlock prods the Colonel to see if there is anything of interest, but learns that it seems to have been a random crime. That perhaps would have ended Sherlock's involvement. The next day, the Colonel's butler informs everyone that there has been a murder at the Cunninghams' residence. Their coachman was shot in the chest. Shortly after hearing the news, Inspector Forrester visits the Colonel's home and asks if Sherlock would be willing to lend his expertise to the investigation. His time for rest and relaxation has come to an end.

Suspicion

The only piece of evidence is a scrap of paper with handwritten words that seems to indicate that he ''may have been in league with the thief.'' To Sherlock, the note is a big clue. The way the note is written indicates that two people had a hand in writing it. Sherlock indicates that they need to find the rest of the note. He believes it is in ''the criminal's pocket.'' They all go to the Cunninghams'. As they look around the house, Sherlock faints. He apologizes ''for his weakness.'' This incident is a ruse to prevent the inspector from revealing their only clue.

Sherlock begins to suspect the father and son, which is why he again feigns weakness. He writes down some information incorrectly, an indication to Watson that ''he was far from being himself.'' Sherlock wants Mr. Cunningham to provide a sample of his handwriting. As the group enters Mr. Cunningham's room, Sherlock knocks over a tray of oranges and a pitcher of water. He blames the accident on Watson, and uses the confusion to search the pockets of clothes in Alec's room.

Both Mr. Cunningham and Alec realize what Sherlock is up to and run after him. Suddenly, Sherlock cries out for help. Watson, the inspector, and the colonel find Alec ''clutching (Sherlock's) throat with both hands.'' After freeing Sherlock from the clutches of the Cunningham men, Watson notices how ''Sherlock staggered to his feet, very pale and...exhausted.'' Sherlock has the inspector arrest both Mr. Cunningham and his son Alec for the murder of the coachman.

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