Really you’ve got to expect it. I didn’t know Mark Twain had written detective fiction. Of course he did. Of course he satirizes Sherlock Holmes! Of course the story is set it in a mining camp out West, there being precedent in Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, published fifteen years before. And of course Twain called his A Double-barreled Detective Story.
The double-barreled is metaphor for two detectives working on the same murder case. Sherlock Holmes uses observation and scientific analysis. Archie Stillman (non de plume) uses his nose for scent analysis. Each detective has strengths and weaknesses — Sherlock Holmes’ weakness is Mark Twain — who burlesqued him mercilessly. (Almost)
He got out his fragmentary clues and arranged them on a sheet of cardboard on his knee. The house held its breath and watched.
“We have the longitude and the latitude, corrected for magnetic variation, and this gives us the exact location of the tragedy. We have the altitude, the temperature, and the degree of humidity prevailing—inestimably valuable, since they enable us to estimate with precision the degree of influence which they would exercise upon the mood and disposition of the assassin at that time of the night.”
(Buzz of admiration; muttered remark, “By George, but he’s deep!”) He fingered his clues. “And now let us ask these mute witnesses to speak to us.
“Here we have an empty linen shot-bag. What is its message?”
Based on his burlesqued “reputation” for being killed and revived four times, Twain kills Holmes off and revives him. The precedent is Conan Dole’s reluctant resurrection of this worldwide hero.
And Archie’s simple scent-based bloodhounding (which Archie passes off as visual observation) wins every time.
In this story one sees Twain’s outrage and contempt for sheriffs who don’t stop lynchings.
“There ‘ll be a new disease in the doctor-books—sheriff complaint.” That idea pleased [the sheriff] —any one could see it. “People will say, ‘Sheriff sick again?’ ‘Yes; got the same old thing.’ And next there ‘ll be a new title. … ‘He’s running for Coward of Rapaho.’ Lord, the idea of a grown-up person being afraid of a lynch mob!”
What has this to do with my own investigations here in Maine? I’m inquiring into the problem of an apparent corpse — or corpus — called The God’s Cycle, a six book series set in fictitious Gottheim, Maine. My method involves immersion in a variety of mystery readings, a town-involved dead body (murder?), and an ice storm. Is this non-mystery series dead? If so, can it be revived, and how? Ironically, these investigations can only inquire: dead or alive? They cannot actually revive, but may set the stage for such.
Still, dead-or-alive? Either way would keep me busy. Is it possible such a continuation (revival) might involve the double-barreled approach? Ah yes. Sherlock Holmes will appear during the ice storm as The Fantastic element! –Or Mark Twain. Or, or, or Huckleberry Finn.
And what has Huckleberry Finn to do with it?
Apparently in my audio queue lurks a Tom Sawyer mystery told by Huckleberry Finn. Were it not for Huckleberry Finn, I would pay it no mind. Despite the apparent relation to his creator, I can’t stand Tom Sawyer. Or maybe it’s the apparent likeness to this creator. (Moi)
But … if it is Tom Sawyer who gets knocked off…?…Not bad.
We planned on closing the green and blue house in May but discovered the account is ongoing until the middle of June. Still, we don’t know for sure on anything yet, though cut-off seems likely.