Some people say that one of the reasons they enjoy reading crime stories like Sherlock Holmes is that order is always restored, good always triumphs over evil. Crime fiction is popular still today because there are many programmes on T. V today i. e. A Touch of Frost, Taggart, and Wire in the Blood. It is also in books like the novels of Ian Paterson. The genre is so popular because people enjoy it and there is an atmosphere of expectation in most stories. Conan Doyle was popular with the Victorian audience because the criminal’s always got caught, and his stories were published in a magazine read in a parlour or on a train journey.
The basic structure of a crime story is that at the beginning there is order and all is well. Soon, however something happens usually a crime to disrupt that order. Then the detective investigates and solves the case. Finally order is restored again as good has defeated evil. This structure is evident in ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip’. For example it begins orderly at the beginning of the story as we read about Dr Watson and his wife in the sitting room just before the hour that a man goes to bed. His wife is knitting and Dr Watson sat in his chair.
Then the order is disrupted when the doorbell rings and one of Dr Watson’s patients Kate Whitney is at the door and she tells what’s up. Dr Watson then goes to find Kate Whitney’s husband and whilst there, finds Sherlock Holmes in the Opium den. The crime Sherlock Holmes has to investigate is the apparent murder of Neville St Clair. He solves the case by realising that Neville St Clair is in disguise as Hugh Boone. Finally order has been restored because Holmes gets to Neville St Clair and undisguises him as evil is defeated.
Conan Doyle uses all the right ingredients and description to his villains which strikes fear into any reader. Dr Roylott is a perfect example of this. Conan Doyle describes him as ‘So tall was he that his hat actually brushed the cross-bar of the doorway, and his breadth seemed to span it across from side to side. A large face, seared with a thousand wrinkles, burned yellow with the sun, and marked with evil passion, was turned from one to the other of us, while his deep-set, bile-shot eyes, and the high thin fleshless nose, gave him somewhat the resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey’.
This shows the sheer size and fierce looks that he has. ‘I am a dangerous man to fall foul of! See here’ He stepped swiftly, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve with his huge brown hands’. This shows how strong Dr Roylott is and to warn Sherlock Holmes off because other people fear him. In ‘The Speckled Band’ Conan Doyle describes how aggressive, violent and Greedy Dr Roylott and that he uses his knowledge of medicine for evil doings. Jim Browner is another Conan Doyle that is very well described. His aggression, jealousy and uncontrollable rage are shown here.
‘ I swore to my wife that I would kill her if I found her under in his company again, and I led her back with me, sobbing and trembling and as white as a piece of paper’. His cunning ways are shown here ‘I had a heavy oak stick in my hand, and I telly you I saw red from the first; but as I ran I got cunning and hung back a little to see them without being seen’. His violence and vengeance is shown here ‘Crushed his head like an egg. I would have spared her, perhaps, for all my madness, but she threw her arms around him crying out to him …
I was like a wild beast that had tasted blood’. This also shows there is no stopping him and that he gives no mercy. Conan Doyle carefully describes his settings to create tension and suspense. An example in ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip’ Conan Doyle describes the opium den internally and externally to brilliant effect. The modern reader knows this is a place where sinister events happen, ‘a black gap like the mouth of a cave’ ‘Out of the black shadows there glimmered little red circles of light’.
The Victorian reader very familiar with the atmosphere in London and would be gripped by Watson’s struggle to see and all the detail that Conan Doyle describes the Opium Den with. Sir Conan Doyle uses great language to create a tense atmosphere in ‘The Speckled Band’. In section where Helen Stoner relays what happened on the night her sister mysteriously died, he uses the ‘story within the story’ to great effect. Firstly an atmosphere of foreboding is created as the weather is described ‘The wind was howling’, animal imagery which creates the effect that there is a wild beast outside.
The rain was beating and splashing against the window which is describing the weather to create atmosphere of foreboding and uses words like ‘beating to show violent imagery. Conan Doyle uses sentence structures effectively to create different atmospheres. He uses short sentences to create drama and also short sharp sentences followed by an exclamation mark to create a scary and tense atmosphere. For example in ‘The Speckled Band’ when Julia shouts ‘Oh my God! Helen! It was the band!
‘ Another example of a short sentence is when Helen says ‘I knew that it was my sister’s voice’. Conan Doyle is very successful in writing detective fiction that appeals to a modern reader because he uses all the right ingredients and structure. Conan Doyle uses very interesting characters and evil villains, which makes the readers addicted to his detective fiction stories. He uses different types of language and sentence structure, which is very appealing to the readers.