Review: The Problem of Thor Bridge by Arthur Conan Doyle


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Included in The Complete Sherlock Holmes and The Complete Tales of Terror and Mystery. Signature Edition. The Complete Works Collection, 2011. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 4862 KB.  Print Length: 1877. ASIN: B004LE7PCM.  Authorised Version by the Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. (Amazon.com, Amazon.es, Amazon.co.uk).

51xhoq2deel I was reading The Hound of the Baskervilles when I learned that the year chosen for November in The Crimes of the Century was going to be #1922. Consequently, I looked among the short stories in the ‘canon’ if there was any published that year. In fact, there was one. The Problem of Thor Bridge, was originally published in two parts in the February and March 1922 issues of the Strand Magazine in the UK and the Hearst’s International magazine in the US. The story was later collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927). The Problem of Thor Bridge is the forty-sixth short story and the fiftieth story of the canon of Sherlock Holmes.

I feel it is useful to highlight that the original chronological order of the twelve stories collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes were as follows: The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone (1921); The Problem of Thor Bridge (1922); The Adventure of the Creeping Man (1923); The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire (1924); The Adventure of the Three Garridebs (1924); The Adventure of the Illustrious Client (1924); The Adventure of the Three Gables (1926); The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier (1926); The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane (1926); The Adventure of the Retired Colourman (1926); The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger (1927), and The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place (1927).

However, many newer editions, and this is the case in my copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes and The Complete Tales of Terror and Mystery, favour the following ordering: The Adventure of the Illustrious Client; The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier; The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone; The Adventure of the Three Gables; The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire; The Adventure of the Three Garridebs; The Problem of Thor Bridge; The Adventure of the Creeping Man; The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane; The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger; The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place; The Adventure of the Retired Colourman.

Because of the two orderings, The Adventure of the Retired Colourman (1926) has often been incorrectly identified as the last Sherlock Holmes story written by Arthur Conan Doyle to be published, when the last such story to be published is in fact The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place (1927).

It can be of interest to recall that the expression ‘the canon of Sherlock Holmes’ is used to distinguish between Doyle’s original works and subsequent works by other authors using the same characters. (Source: Wikipedia) 

On a separate issue, thanks to my entry The Hound of the Baskervilles, I’ve come across a new to me and very interesting blog, The Invisible Event whose review on The Problem of Thor Bridge can be found here

The argument is quite straightforward. Maria Gibson, the wife of an American magnate called Neil Gibson, better known as the Gold King, was  found at Thor Bridge, a stone bridge in Gibson’s large estate, with a revolver bullet through her brain. No weapon was found near her. The prime suspect is Grace Dunbar, the governess to Gibson’s children. There was a note from her on the victim arranging the meeting at the bridge. Moreover a revolver with one discharged chamber and a calibre which corresponded with the bullet was found on the floor of her wardrobe. Besides she recognises that the note was hers and she admits to have been near Thor Bridge at the hour in which it is assumed that it was committed the crime. However, Mr. Gibson firmly believes that Grace Dunbar is not guilty and he wants to hire the services of Sherlock Holmes to prove her innocence and clear her name. Despite all the evidence against Miss Dunbar, Holmes accepts the case. 

The story is notable within the canon of Sherlock Holmes for the initial reference to a tin dispatch box, located within the vaults of the Cox and Co. Bank at Charing Cross in London, where Dr Watson kept the papers concerning some of Holmes’ unsolved or unfinished cases. According to Watson: ‘Among these unfinished tales is that of Mr James Phillimore, who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world’. The unknown fate of Phillimore has been a subject for other stories, including: The Adventure of the Highgate Miracle by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr; ‘The Enigma of the Warwickshire Vortex by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre; one episode of the Italian comic book series Storie di Altrove (a spin-off from the more famous Martin Mystère); and Bert Coules’s BBC Radio adaptation The Singular Inheritance of Miss Gloria Wilson from The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Also mentioned is the case of Isadora Persano, ‘who was found stark staring mad with a match box in front of him which contained a remarkable worm said to be unknown to science’. (Source: Wikipedia)

The story is narrated by Dr Watson and, in my view, is wonderfully well-written. I particularly liked the simplicity of the plot which provides a very pleasant reading session. I don’t know yet whether it can be included among the best short stories of the canon, maybe not, but I really enjoyed it. This time Holmes uses mainly his powers of observation rather than his powers of deduction. This is probably why we don’t find The problem of Thor Bridge among the best stories of Sherlock Holmes. But anyway, I have enjoyed it very much and look forward to reading the short stories included in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. Stay tuned.

My rating: B (I really liked it)

To give you a flavour of this story, I think you’ll enjoy listening to a sample here

The Conan Doyle Encyclopaedia

El problema del puente de Thor de Arthur Conan Doyle

Estaba leyendo El sabueso de los Baskerville cuando me enteré de que el año elegido para The Crimes of the Century en noviembre había sido #1922. En consecuencia, busqué entre los relaton en el “canon” si había alguno publicado ese año. De hecho, había uno. El problema del puente de Thor, publicado originalmente en dos partes en los números de febrero y marzo de 1922 de la revista Strand en el Reino Unido y de la revista Hearst’s International en los EE.UU. La historia fue recogida más tarde en El archivo de Sherlock Holmes (1927). El problema del puente de Thor es el cuadragésimo sexto cuento y la historia quincuagésima del canon holmesiano.

Considero útil destacar que el orden cronológico original de los doce relatos recogidos en El archivo de Sherlock Holmes fue como sigue: La piedra de Mazarino (1921); El problema del puente de Thor (1922); El hombre que trepaba (1923); El vampiro de Sussex (1924); Los tres Garrideb (1924); El cliente ilustre (1924); Los tres gabletes (1926); El soldado de la piel decolorada (1926); La melena del león (1926); El fabricante de colores retirado (1926); La inquilina del velo (1927) y Shoscombe Old Place (1927).

Sin embargo, muchas ediciones más recientes, y este es el caso de mi ejemplar de The Complete Sherlock Holmes and The Complete Tales of Terror and Mystery, prefieren el siguiente orden: El cliente ilustre; El soldado de la piel decolorada; La piedra de Mazarino; Los tres gabletes; El vampiro de Sussex; Los tres Garrideb; El problema del puente de Thor; El hombre que trepaba; La melena del león; La inquilina del velo; Shoscombe Old Place; El fabricante de colores retirado

Debido a estas dos clasificaciones, a menudo El fabricante de colores retirado (1926) ha sido iconsiderado el último relato de Sherlock Holmes escrito por Arthur Conan Doyle que se publicó, cuando la último de estas historias cortas que se publicó es en realidad Shoscombe Old Place (1927).

Puede ser interesante recordar que la expresión ‘canon holmesiano’ se utiliza para distinguir entre las obras originales de Doyle y las obras posteriores de otros autores que han utilizado a los mismos personajes. (Fuente: Wikipedia)

En un tema aparte, gracias a mi entrada El sabueso de los Baskerville, me he encontrado con un muy interesante blog que yo desconocía, The Invisible Event cuya reseña sobre El problema del puente de Thor se puede ver aquí.

El argumento es muy sencillo. Maria Gibson, la esposa de un magnate americano llamado Neil Gibson, más conocido como el Rey del Oro, fue encontrada en el puente de Thor, un puente de piedra en la gran finca de Gibson, con una bala de revólver alojada en su cerebro. No se encontró ningun arma cerca de ella. La principal sospechosa es Grace Dunbar, la institutriz de los hijos de los Gibson. La víctima tenía una nota de ella para encontrarse en el Puente. Por otra parte un revólver al que le faltaba una bala en la recámara y de un calibre que se correspondía con la bala encontrada en la víctima, apareció en el suelo de su armario. Además reconoce que la nota era de ella y admite haber estado cerca del puente de Thor a la hora en la que se supone que se cometió el crimen. Sin embargo, el Sr. Gibson cree firmemente que Gracia Dunbar no es culpable y quiere contratar los servicios de Sherlock Holmes para demostrar su inocencia y limpiar su nombre. A pesar de toda la evidencia en contra de la señorita Dunbar, Holmes acepta el caso.

La historia destaca dentro del canon holmesiano por la referencia inicial a una caja metálica, localizada en las cajas del banco Cox y Compañía en Charing Cross, Londres, donde el Dr. Watson guarda los documentos relativos a algunos de los casos sin resolver o inacabados de Holmes. Según Watson: “Entre estos relatos inacabados está el del Sr. James Phillimore, que, teniendo que regresar a su casa para coger su paraguas, no se le volvió a ver en este mundo.” El destino desconocido de Phillimore ha sido objeto de numerosas historias, entre ellas: The Adventure of the Highgate Miracle de Adrian Conan Doyle y John Dickson Carr; The Enigma of the Warwickshire Vortex de F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre; un episodio de la serie italiana de historietas Storie di Altrove (un spin-off de la más famosa Martin Mystère); y la adaptación radiofónica de Bert Coules para la BBC de The Singular Inheritance of Miss Gloria Wilson de The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. También se menciona el caso de Isadora Persano, “que fue encontrado completamente loco con la mirada perdida y frente a una caja de cerillas, que contenía un gusano extraordinario de una especie desconocida hasta ahora por la ciencia”.

La historia está narrada por el Dr. Watson y, en mi opinión, está maravillosamente bien escrita. Me gustó especialmente la sencillez de la trama que proporciona una sesión de lectura muy agradable. No sé todavía si se puede incluir entre los mejores relatos del canon, tal vez no, pero he disfrutado mucho de éste. Esta vez Holmes utiliza principalmente su capacidad de observación, más que sus poderes de deducción. Esta es probablemente la razón por la que no encontramos El problema del puente de Thor entre los mejores cuentos de Sherlock Holmes. Pero de todos modos, me ha gustado mucho y espero con interés la lectura del resto de los relatos incluidos en El archivo de Sherlock Holmes. Permanezcan sintonizados.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó mucho)

6 thoughts on “Review: The Problem of Thor Bridge by Arthur Conan Doyle

  1. Thanks for the mention of my blog, much appreciated. Also, I didn’t realise that the James Phillimore story had been written up by anyone besdies Carr. Have you read MacIntyre’s story? Is it any good?

    • You’re welcome, JJ. I must say I wasn’t aware of that either until reading the Wikipedia entry. Hope I can find it available at a decent price.

  2. The Case Book is often written off as being the least successful of the Holmes collections, but I must say I think there are some gems in there. I love The Sussex Vampire and The Lion’s Mane, and even though The Creeping Man is a bit silly to our modern eyes I still think it’s a great bit of writing. Glad you’re enjoying them!

  3. Pingback: ‘Crack out the railway timetables’: #1922book results | Past Offences Classic Crime Fiction

  4. Pingback: November Reading Round-Up | A Crime is Afoot

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