A mysterious code has tragic consequences in The Adventure of the Dancing Men

Sherlock unlocks the secret hidden within the code of the Dancing Men.

Mr. Hilton Cubitt visits Sherlock Holmes and gives him a piece of paper with a mysterious sequence of stick figures drawn upon it. These dancing men have been appearing overnight and have been having an adverse effect on his wife who seems to know their meaning. Sometimes they appear on a piece of paper left on the sundial overnight or are left scrawled in chalk on a wall, door or windowsill. Each time they have terrifying effect on his wife Elsie but she will not tell her husband what they represent. Holmes eventually deduces their relevance but not before a tragic conclusion.

Quite often rereading these I am struck by the violence that is contained within the stories. Perhaps I assumed they had a rather genteel nature but every now and again a vicious murder or act of violence occurs and takes me by surprise. Here, as in The Five Orange Pips, Sherlock fails to save the life of his client but ensures that the culprit pays the price.

Tomorrow is The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist

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