In this essay I’ am going to compare & contrast two detective stories. A pre-twentieth century story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called ‘The Speckled Band’ & a modern story by Colin Dexter called Neighbourhood Watch. I will describe the language, characters, social and historical context, Style, the plot, similarities and differences between the two. I will also state which I prefer & why. The Speckled Band starts off with Miss Stoner going to Sherlock Holmes’s house and asking for his help.
She tells him of her sister’s death and of how her sister had heard a whistle at night for the past week or so. On the night of her death there was a loud scream of terror and just after a whistle Miss Stoner went to inspect quickly but as she neared her sisters room she stumbled out and said silently a ‘speckled band’. Miss Stoner was quite worried because her sister was soon to be married and now so is she.
As soon as she left Dr Roylott came barging in wanting to know what Miss Stoner had come to see Holmes for.
Holmes tried to put off answering Dr Roylott and answered with something about the weather. In disgust Dr Roylott picked up Holmes’s poker and bent it then he left. Once Dr Roylott left Holmes picked up his poker and bent it back as straight as possible in one go. Holmes and Watson soon left for Stoke Moran which is the home to DR Roylott and Miss Stoner who live with one servant.
But they told the dog cart driver that took them there that they were archaeologists and were interested in the building itself.
They got off the dog cart near the plantation that was on Dr Roylott’s land. He let some gypsies live there and often used to go with them on voyages and trips. When Holmes started to look at the rooms he began in Miss Stoners room which was supposed to be having some repairs done to the wall because the builders punctured the wall while doing repairs in the other wing of the house. When Holmes looked at it there wasn’t any repairs done to the wall and nothing wrong with it either.
Holmes soon went on to the next room which was currently being used by Miss Stoner Holmes automatically noticed the ventilator and told Watson that he knew that it was somewhere near due to the fact that the dead sister could smell Dr Roylott’s cigars and could hear things that Dr Roylott was doing and that meant there was some kind of connection between the rooms and a ventilator would be one of them. He also noticed that the bed was bolted to the floor which could not be moved, also there was a bell-pull which didn’t ring a bell and Holmes noticed it was a dummy instantly. Holmes left that room and investigated Dr Roylott’s room.
He noticed only a few things but the things he noticed were a safe a saucer of milk and a lash curled up making a loop of whipcord. Holmes asked what was in the safe and Miss Stoner replied papers. She told him that she had seen inside and that was what was inside. Holmes wondered to himself in a thick cloud of smoke from his pipe. What was the milk for? Dr Roylott may have had it for his pet cheetah but a saucer wouldn’t have been enough for a huge cat like that. Holmes and Watson arranged to come back after Dr Roylott had retired to his room for the night Miss Stoner would signal for them once Dr Roylott had gone to bed for the night.
Holmes and Watson waited for the signal at a nearby Crown Inn. When the signal came they went up to Stoke Moran and Miss Stoner let them into her dead sisters room for the night. Holmes and Watson waited into the early hours of the morning waiting for something to happen. Soon enough Holmes got up and hit the bell-rope. Soon after there was a whistle and they soon found Dr Roylott dead and a poisonous snake in his room. In the story Neighbourhood Watch Morse begins in a pub called the Kings Arms taking his lunch hour while looking at a near 30 year old brunet when a Dr Ullman turns up and tells everybody about what had happened.
He said that he had gone to the opera and when he had returned his car wasn’t in the drive way. He was very worried and phoned the police although they weren’t much help. A few days had passed and his car had returned back in his drive with a note and an opera ticket worth i?? 40. Morse was quite surprised and Dr Ullman read the note. The note said ‘Sorry for any inconvenience – very sorry indeed. I just had to have a car and yours was there. It’s had a shampoo and I filled the petrol tank – unleaded, like it says in handbook.
Your little car saved my bacon, that’s the truth, and I’m grateful. Please then do me the honour of accepting the enclosed ticket. I know you like the opera. I wasn’t quite sure what performance to choose but Wagner is the king for me, and in my opinion Die Valkurie is the greatest thing he ever wrote. Enjoy your evening and thanks again’. Morse found it quite strange for a car to be taken and not even a scratch on it in fact quite the opposite, it looked brand new. Morse soon left and set up a surveillance operation watching over Dr Ullman’s house.
When it was time to go round the opera Morse and Lewis were already there not very far into the surveillance operation a woman went in and posted something. Morse thought it was a free paper. Lewis soon wanted to go in but Morse told him to wait. Soon after that a man opened the gates and went and took something out of the letterbox it was a key then they noticed that it was Dr Ullman. Morse and Lewis were quite surprised to see Dr Ullman back in his home before the opera was finished. They both went home. Morse walked 300 yards home and Lewis took the van home. When Morse got home he noticed something on the table.
A note. It read ‘Sorry for the inconvenience – very sorry indeed. It was the only thing worth pinching and I’m hoping I’ll get a good price for it’. Morse leaped up the stairs to see if his tables were gone and they had. Morse phoned the police to tell them that he had been burgled the officer told Morse that it had already been reported by Dr Ullman. He said that he lived near by. Dr Ullman had got the number plate of the white self hire van. Morse went around to Dr Ullman’s house and he explained all that had happened. The Language of the two stories is different in many ways.
Nowadays we don’t use dog carts and don’t have bell-ropes in our houses like in the Speckled Band, also we don’t write 70 word sentences like ‘In glancing over my notes………………… of Stoke Moran’. We also don’t call our bedroom a chamber anymore. We don’t use phrases like ‘would fain draw a little closer to the fire’. Not many houses even have a proper fire in their homes nowadays anyway. The Morse story mainly contains modern language and some slang like ‘genuine enough I reckon’ and ‘so this chap’ this is completely differently from the 70 word sentences that are in the Speckled Band.
Neighbourhood Watch contains many modern words like ‘Tupperware’, ‘new alarm system’, ‘white self hire van’ or even ‘NHS hearing aid’. That makes it obvious that Neighbourhood Watch is not set in the same time period as The Speckled Band. The old words in The Speckled Band make it feel rather strange. Maybe it’s because I don’t understand some of them but the new modern words that are in Neighbourhood Watch and everyday life don’t add much of any thing to the story.
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