Friday, April 25, 2014

The Problem of Thor Bridge by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes is a seminal character that has inspired, and continues to inspire, mystery writers worldwide. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a great many short stories and novels featuring the infamous detective, however only a handful contain locked room and other impossible crime mysteries.

The many faces of Sherlock Holmes. Source:

In the Problem of Thor Bridge, Holmes and Watson are called to investigate the death of Mrs Gibson, wife of a wealthy businessman. Shot at close range by an unknown assailant, the clues to Mrs Gibson's death all seem to point towards the nanny.

The Problem of Thor Bridge

The short story is available in its entirety for free at Camden House or Project Gutenberg Australia. If you want to read on your Kindle you can download it here (send to Kindle instructions here).

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Date: 1922
Word Count: 9,500 (about 40 pages)


The Problem of Thor Bridge doesn't feature as much of Holmes' deductive techniques as others in the Conan Doyle canon, and instead relies on the details of the case to maintain the reader's interest. It would have been nice for Conan Doyle to play this up even more, as the solution to the puzzle is one of the more interesting of his devices.

Impossible crime stories generally start with an outline of the scenario (and why it isn't possible), however The Problem of Thor Bridge instead chooses to focus on the characters involved. Perhaps the story could have benefited from a little curiosity-building, as it is only towards the end that we discover the method of the crime (which threatens to eclipse the intricacies of the characters).

As with a number of Conan Doyle's stories, the solution is somewhat marred by the police incompetence required to maintain its mystery, however remains an interesting entry in the genre that underplays its impossible crime twist.

5/10 - Focused more on motive than method, which lessens the impact slightly

If you'd like a paperback or official Kindle edition of The Problem of Thor Bridge the story is available as part of the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes collection from Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US).

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