A bloody fingerprint unravels The Adventure of the Norwood Builder

Has an innocent man been framed?

John McFarlane, a junior lawyer, bursts into Baker Street and asks Holmes for help.  Lestrade arrives soon after and intends to arrest the young man. Jonas Oldacre has vanished the night before and the lumber in his yard has caught fire. His bed was unused and his safe was open with papers scattered around the room. There are signs of struggle and a large object has been dragged out to the woodpile and then burnt. Blood has also been found on an oak cane belonging to Oldcare’s last known visitor, McFarlane.

Oldcare explains that much to his surprise McFarlane asks him to write to his will, only to discover that McFarlane has made Oldcare the sole benefactor. They meet late at night at McFarlane’s home and the young man leaves his cane there overnight, intending to collect it in the morning. As Holmes investigates, dark secrets begin to emerge about McFarlane but Lestrade is convinced of the young lawyer’s guilt when one of his bloody fingerprints is found on the wall…

This was an enjoyable story with plenty of twists to keep you reading. I had my suspicions throughout but they were not confirmed until the revelatory conclusion. It opens though with Sherlock lamenting the demise of Moriarty. Holmes would read of the previous days events in the newspapers and could spot the hand of the Professor in every crime listed. Now though, there is little to hold his attention. It too leaves the reader as well longing for his return. This was also one of the few cases so far where fingerprints have been used as evidence by Scotland Yard, even if the results are not what they seem.

Tomorrow codes are there to be broken in The Adventure of the Dancing Men

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