The Valley of Fear by A. Conan Doyle

The Valley of Fear by A. Conan Doyle

The Valley of Fear is the fourth and final Sherlock Holmes novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is loosely based on the Molly Maguires and Pinkerton agent James McParland. The story was first published in the Strand Magazine between September 1914 and May 1915. The first book edition was copyrighted in 1914, and it was first published by George H. Doran Company in New York on 27 February 1915, and illustrated by Arthur I. Keller

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The Valley of Fear by A. Conan Doyle

A letter arrived for Sherlock Holmes. We were sitting in our rooms at 221b Baker Street.

‘It’s Porlock’s writing,’ he said. ‘It must be very important.’

‘Who is Porlock?’ I asked.

‘Porlock is just a name: it’s not his real one. He is a man who is in touch with the great criminal mastermind, Professor Moriarty. You’ve heard me talk about him?’

‘Yes, he’s famous among criminals but unknown to the public.’

The Valley of Fear by A. Conan Doyle

That’s right. He’s the “brain” that controls all crime; we’ll catch him one day, Watson.’

‘Anyway, what about this letter and Porlock?’

‘He works for Professor Moriarty. He has sent me information twice before which has helped to prevent crimes.’

Holmes opened the letter and read it. The message said that a man called Douglas at Birlstone Manor House was in great danger.

There was a knock at the door and Inspector MacDonald of Scotland Yard walked in. Holmes looked pleased to see him.

‘You’re out early,’ he said.

But the inspector had stopped suddenly. He was staring at the message.

‘Douglas! Birlstone? What’s this, Mr Holmes? Magic? How did you get those names?’

‘Why?’ asked Holmes. ‘What’s wrong with those names?’

‘Mr Douglas of Birlstone Manor House was murdered this morning.’

Sherlock Holmes explained to the inspector how he had just received the letter.

‘I was on my way to Birlstone,’ said the inspector. ‘I came to ask if you and Doctor Watson wanted to come with me but, from what you say about this Porlock, we’ll find out more in London.’

‘I don’t think so,’ said Holmes.

‘Well, if there’s a man in London who knew about the crime before it happened, then we need to find him!’

‘And how do you suggest we find Porlock?’ asked Holmes. ‘I don’t know him, I’ve never seen him, I don’t know where he is and, what’s more, I know that Professor Moriarty is involved. We’ll find nothing in London, MacDonald, we must go to Birlstone to solve this crime…

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