The Adventure of the Yellow Face

‘An unnatural and inhuman’ yellow face appears at a window…

Holmes is bored and between cases. Together he walks around Hyde Park with Watson but on their return to Baker Street they discover a pipe left behind by a client. Holmes deduces much from the forgotten pipe and eventually it is revealed to belong to a Grant Munro. Happily married for three years now, Munro tells Holmes that his wife Effie has now grown distant to him. She is a widow, her husband and child dying from yellow fever while in America, and heir to a vast fortune that he now controls.

Unexpectedly, she asks her husband for one hundred pounds while also sneaking out late at night to a nearby cottage in Norbury, refusing to reveal who she is visiting there. Visiting the cottage for himself, he sees a hideous yellow face looking back at him from a window. Startled, when he returns, he breaks in, finding it empty apart from a portrait of his wife. Holmes tells Munro to return home until the cottage is reoccupied. Munro summons them where a dramatic showdown takes place within the cottage.

Here we see another instance where Holmes is outwitted or comes to the wrong conclusion, arriving at the same conclusion that the reader is lead into believing. Holmes asks Watson that if he ever gets too over-confident again that he must whisper ‘Norbury’ to him in order to gain some perspective. Reading the story now as a modern reader, it shines a light on Victorian attitudes towards race and ends with what many would consider rather liberal attitudes on display from Munro.

Tomorrow is The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk

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