In Silver Blaze, the crime/mystery is the murder of the horse trainer John Straker and the theft of the prize wining horse, Silver Blaze. Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson are called in to investigate the case. His methods may appear extraordinary to others but to Sherlock Holmes himself they are very simple.
Silver Blaze is regarded as one of Sherlock Holmes’ greatest demonstrations of his powers of deduction by the amount of information he gathers through simple actions that would be uninterpretable to others.
The first hint that this story is going to be based purely around Sherlock Holmes’ powers of deduction is the paragraph early on in the story when Holmes and Watson are travelling down to Dartmoor on the train. Holmes says “That it one of those cases where the art of the reasoner should be used rather for the sifting of the details than for the acquiring of fresh evidence.
” This intimates that the mystery will be solved purely by the exercise of deduction rather than by finding the missing piece of the jigsaw. Also during the scene on the train Holmes gives us a display of his incredible dedutive powers and great intellect, thus hinting that this mystery will indeed be solved by powers of deduction alone. “Our rate at present is fifty three and a half miles an hour. ” “I have not observed the quarter-mile posts,” said I.
“Nor have I but the telegraph posts upon this line are sixty yards apart, and the calculation is a simple one. The main clues that add up to the final conclusion at the end of the story seem to be almost completely irrelevant at the time but when put together by Holmes they become very obvious. One of the mysteries that is uncovered is how the horse was stolen and aother is why the stable boy guarding the horse didn’t taste the drug in his food and also who drugged the food.
Holmes pieces together these clues and comes up with the theory that it could only be Mr or Mrs Straker who could have drugged the food, as a supper was ordered that would disguise the taste of the opium it was laced with and this could only have been done by either Mr or Mrs Straker. Another clue that may have seemed unimportant to others was why the stable dog did not bark when the horse was led away? The simple answer was that the dog must have recognised the intruder again pointing to Mr Straker. Another vital clue was the weapon that Straker had chosen to equip himself with when he left the house in the night.
He had mysteriously chosen a delicate surgery knife which was of no use as a weapon and could only be used for delicate operations. That combined with the method of Straker’s death strengthened Holmes’ thoery that Straker had led the horse out himself and was going to perform some kind of operation on it. Probably the most discrete clue of all was that of how Straker had practised with such a delicate tool as the knife to perform whatever his operation on the horse was. The answer was the sheep that the Strakers kept.
Straker had been practising his surgery on his sheep and had made them lame which proved that Straker was trying to sabotage his horse’s chance in the up-coming races. Holmes had then already set about theorising a method of why Straker would want to harm his horse. He then asked Mrs. Straker if he had seen her at a garden party a few months ago. She replied that she had not been present there. One of the items found on Strakers body was a bill for a dress made out to a Mr. Darbyshire. In truth John Straker had been leading a double life as Mr. Darbyshire and had run up considerable debts by buying elabourate dresses for his mistress. Another feat of deduction was that of where the horse had disappeared to. Holmes deduced this by following the tracks and carefuly noting how there were just horse tracks and then suddenly a man’s footprints appeared next to the horse tracks. This indicated to Holmes that the horse must have been wandering and then found by someone. Holmes and Watson then followed the tracks to the Capleton stables where he engaged in a private conversation with the owner.
After all Holmes’ theorising he told the owner of the horse,Colonel Ross that he should leave Silver Blaze’s name down for the race to take place in a few days time. At the start of the race Holmes revealed Silver Blazes’ presence at the stables by showing that the horse had been painted a different colour to disguise its distinct colouring. I belive that this is one of Sherlock Holmes’ greatest displays of his intellect and deductive powers because of how he connects all the pieces of the puzzle that were all ready in existence simply by applying his very considerable powers of reasoning and logic.