Most murder mysteries often have a motive to prompt an investigation, and most classic murder mysteries include a detective to solve the case. Murder mysteries obviously also include a murder, may it be spectacular, cold blooded or accidental. There is also a murderer and a victim and a weapon of some description.. However, not all murder mysteries involve an alibi which in my opinion, adds to the suspense of the story. The main focus of a murder mystery is the location of the story or where it is set. There may be many different locations in a murder story, however there must be one main location for the story to be effective.
Lamb to the Slaughter was written by Roald Dahl who is infamous for his enthralling stories, most of which are directed at a younger audience. It was first published in 1954. In Lamb to the Slaughter, the use of modern language automatically gives the impression that it is written in the present day. Roald Dahl is much more famous for his stories which are directed at a younger audience, however Lamb to the Slaughter is directed at an older audience ranging from GCSE students to adults. In his style of writing, Roald Dahl always writes about ordinary people who get involved in difficult situations to make his stories more suspenseful.
The other short story, which I will be investigating, is The Speckled Band. The Speckled Band was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and it was first published in 1892. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is infamous for writing The Sherlock Holmes Adventures and The Speckled Band is just one story of many and The Speckled Band is written in speech of the time when it was first published much like Lamb to the Slaughter. Much more formal English language was used when compared to Lamb to the Slaughter. The main characters in The Speckled Band are Holmes and Watson and you could tell that they were well educated just by analysing how they spoke.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation has had worldwide success and has also been made into a Television series. The stories prove so popular because of the way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the stories. He was very descriptive and gave the reader a real atmosphere of what it must be like to be in “Sherlock Holmes Land”. The setting also enhances the suspense and the atmosphere of the stories which is also another successful formula, which proves the Sherlock Holmes Stories to be so popular.
Sherlock Holmes is probably thee most famous detective in the world now and it is all thanks to the creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Lamb to the Slaughter and The Speckled Band are both murder stories however they both deal with different types of murders. However in both stories there is a focus on animals that being the snake in The Speckled Band and the Leg Of Lamb in Lamb to the Slaughter. The Speckled Band is the longer, more sophisticated story of the pair and deals with exotic animals. This may be a personal theme of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. While the Lamb to the Slaughter murder is brutally simple, but in this case the murder is so good the murderess gets off. In the Speckled Band we want the detective to solve the murder to tell us how it was done, while in the Lamb to the Slaughter we know how the murder was committed, and we read on to see if she gets away with it. We also have two different styles as one of them was written in the 19th Century and the other in the 20th Century. The Speckled Band starts with the reader being introduced to how many cases Dr Holmes and Watson have solved and also what sort of cases these were.
These cases were not ordinary cases, they were all difficult; ‘strange, but none-commonplace’, so any normal cases were shunned. The first sentence is also very long; taking up eight lines, so the reader can get background all in one go, without having to refer back to anywhere. The story is retrospect, as the plot of the story has already been started. We are introduced to the case and Dr Holmes; by Dr Watson, the faithful companion to Holmes. The entire first paragraph is devoted to describing the case of Dr Grimesby Roylott of Stoke Moran The first mention we get of Holmes is when at the beginning of the second paragraph he wakes Watson up, which we find unusual as, we are told he is a late riser. At the bottom of the next page we get our first archaism of the story. These are old style words or phrases that are now no longer in use, the one we get here is ‘intimate friend’, in this sentence he is referring to Dr Watson, and now most people no longer say male friends are intimate.
We also get the feeling that Holmes has collected a considerable amount of money for his efforts on the seventy odd cases he has solved. This is shown by the fact he is only a bachelor; but he still manages to have a maid, and he also drinks coffee which is an expensive drink; as in 1883 coffee was a recent import and so only for the upper classes. He is also respectful and a gentlemen and cares a lot for people, ‘ “You must not fear,” he said leaning forward and patting her arm’. We then come across defray which is another archaism and means to make good or repay. We also find that Holmes finds his work rewarding, as when Miss Stoner says she can’t pay yet, Holmes lets her pay when she can. The narrative then told by Miss Stoner goes on to say she was a step daughter to one of the ‘oldest Saxon families in England’, this family has fallen apart as has the Saxon’s. Being old as well would mean they were honourable. The estate had stretched to Berkshire and Hampshire, which are both rich areas. The Dr Grimesby Roylott went to Calcutta, which was the ‘jewel in the crown, of the British Empire’, and soon got a prison sentence for beating a native butler to death, but as he was white, he did not get a death sentence.
This shows us that he had a huge temper and was strong enough to kill someone with a beating. While in the Indies he married Mrs Stoner who had ?1000 a year, which would be given to him while her daughters resided with him. So when she died shortly after they returned to England near Crewe in a railway accident, they moved in with Dr Grimesby Roylott back to his roots at Stoke Moran. While they lived with him the ?1000 a year saw to all their needs. Until Doctor Grimesby Roylott changed and started throwing fits of anger, and as he was a man of immense strength he often got into brawls. It was said to be part hereditary and part from living in the tropics for so long. He had even thrown the local blacksmith over a bridge, so if he could do that to a blacksmith, normal people had no chance. He also allowed gypsies onto his land, and would disappear off with them for weeks at a time. He also had a cheetah and a baboon roaming his land, showing that he could not leave India behind. Her sister met a half-pay Major of Marines at her aunt’s house, and if she were to marry him Dr Grimesby Roylott would have to pay ?250 a year of his ?1000.
A half pay soldier is a private soldier who already has enough money to live, and doesn’t need paying; he is an amateur soldier. On the day of the murder the weather had been bad and full of forbidding, offering perhaps some pathetic fallacy of the awful deed done that night. Then from the story being quiet and conversational it very quickly turns into a scene of action and murder. The last words of her sister were very confusing, and so puzzled everyone; which added mystery and cynicism. The next main event was when Percy Armitage asks for her hand in marriage. When this happens she is told to move to the room where her sister had died. From this point onwards the reader is very neutral, as they talk of what to do, and in a classic Sherlock Holmes way he talks of what to do and when to do it, but it will all happen because of logic. The next page is just Dr Holmes summing up and analysing all that he has been told.
Dr Grimesby Roylott then burst through the door and starts shouting and threatening Holmes, he is never phased by any of this and responds quietly and politely to the raging shouts directed at him. We then see the great detective start on his quest; he shows he is also well aquatinted with firearms as he tells Watson to get an Eley’s No2. So they then set off on the journey to Stoke Moran, when reached the story tells of the darkness surrounding Stoke Moran, and the Great House and its owner. During this part of the story, Watson asks Holmes questions on behalf of the reader, and so the reader gets all the information that Watson gets. Sherlock Holmes then goes through the whole process of trying to solve the mystery of how the murderer got into the house room, but it is without success, so it is still a mystery to Watson, the reader and probably Holmes.
It is obvious though over the next few pages that Holmes begins to understand how the murder was committed. It is also shown that he begins to dislike Dr Grimesby Roylott increasingly, as he understands more about the murder and how it was committed. We then get the plan of Sherlock Holmes to show us how the murder was committed. The plan works perfectly, but with one fatal part for Dr Grimesby Roylott. The doctor is bitten by the murder weapon, the evil doctor dies dressed even in death in an eastern style. After this we are brought up to date by Dr Watson as he finishes writing the narrative.
The start of the Lamb to the Slaughter differs from the Speckled Band because it is in the pas-tense. It builds up a picture. It also shows that it is in the 20th century as it has a Thermos bucket. We are then introduced straight away with no description a character who is Mary Maloney, who is six months with a child; and so an unlikely murderer. Where as in the Speckled Band we are introduced to Holmes after a page of description of his background; and he is the story. The story style is more immediate and straightforward, and in the Speckled Band we have Dr Watson as a filter to help us. We get description of movement over the next paragraphs. This helps us to assess the mood in the house, and the tension between the two people. We also get to know the characters, and their routines, where as in the Speckled band we know who the main characters are and what they do, while out of no where we are told that Mr Maloney is a policeman with no build up to it all.
We are also told that the couple have a conversation that lasts only about four or five minutes. We are not told what happened in this conversation, so we are forced to make our own opinion, of what he said to her, while in the Speckled Band we are given every detail. We are then made to make up our own mind about this and the next part of the story, when she walks ‘across the room, she couldn’t even feel her feet touching the floor’. This shows she is walking on an autopilot, she may have pre-meditated the murder. She then goes downstairs to get the leg of lamb. We are told all this in the Lamb to the slaughter, but in the Speckled Band we don’t know what the murder weapon is, but we do know that it is pre-meditated. We are then told that Mrs Maloney goes out to the shops to get an alibi, that she was happy and chirpy and not looking or acting like someone who had just committed murder, she puts on the face of a expectant mother and a very happy wife. She does this perfectly and gets the alibi needed for later in the story.
So when she gets back to the house she does not need to act to cry or feel sorrow at the death of her husband because she really loved him, and was probably sorry for killing him. The stories do also differ as, one person calls all the moves of the investigation, and the other has a team of people working all working together to try and solve the murder, when the single investigator solves the crime and the group of detectives fail. We then get a long drawn out conversation between the policemen, which is all-ironic. As they talk about the murder weapon, they are describing the joint that they are eating. Towards the end Mary gets referred less and less as a person and more as an object; this shows her identity as a murderer is disappearing. Both of the murders are perfectly planned and carried out, but the one has a detective, which we need to solve the case, and the other is a case of will the murderer be caught?