The Valley of Fear, the fourth and final of the Sherlock Holmes Novels, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930) is embossed in Braille as we promise before. We are proud to bring out Braille versions of all these four novels – A Study in Scarlet (1887), The Sign of Four (1890), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), The Valley of Fear (1915). Three of these novels, except The Hound of Baskervilles, have double plots. The second plots may be described as stories because they directly relate to the protagonists of the story. These stories are not subject of Sherlock Holmes’s investigation. Rather they open up at the en of the investigation as a confession.
Another important feature of the second plots is that they are all flashback episodes. They also occurred outside England. In The Sign of Four, Jonathan Small relates his adventure in India. In A Study in Scarlet, an in The Valley of Fear, the canvass is America. Obviously Conan Doyle was closely following American life and literature.
The Valley of Fear deals with industrial relation a labour trouble at Fermissa Valley, a coal mining district near Chicago. It tells stories of fulfillment of contract, promise, friendship and commitment.
Holmes met Watson in A Study in Scarlet. In The Valley of Fear, Watson is Dr. Watson, famous as a writer, rousing hope in the heart of a police inspector, “when the time comes we’ll all hope for a place in your book.” John Douglas, the central character of the novel, hands over his manuscript to Watson and assures him, “You’ve never had such a story as that pass through your hands before, and I’ll lay my last dollar on that.”
Holmes solves the murder mystery in the first part, “The Tragedy of Birlstone”. In the second part, “The Scowrers”, Holmes forces out a confession in the form of a manuscript in which John Douglas explains how had tackled a group of gangsters in America. The second story has suspense and tension, one action leading to another, ultimately leading to the climax.
The Valley of Fear has a unique distinction in its link to the Professor Moriarty series. Holmes suspects from the very beginning the hand of “The famous scientific criminal, as famous among crooks” in the Tragedy of Birlstone. Douglas manages to escape the hands of the Bodymaster and the Scowrers. But he dies, in spite of all warning from Holmes, at a ‘stage-managed” accident in South Africa. It is a crafty piece of work on the part of the Professor. As Holmes puts it, “when he read in the reports of the failure of this agent, he would step in himself with a master touch.”
Once the job of tracking down Douglas was assigned to Professor Moriarty, his doom was sealed for certain. The story ends on an optimistic note as Holmes answers to Barker’s question, “Do you tell me that we have to sit down under this? Do you say that no one can ever get level with this king-devil?”
“No, I don’t say that,” said Holmes, and his eyes seemed to be looking far into the future. “I don’t say that he can’t be beat. But you must give me time – you must give me time!”
And we all have to wait for “The Final Problem” for the finale.
This Braille version is completed in three volumes and will cost INR 260. Students in India may get it for INR 20 only. Visit our Braille catalogue for details.