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Written by kyle keenan
"He is unmarried. His yonger brother is a station master in the west of England. His chair is worth seven hundred a year. And he owns a Greuze."
This observation of Holmes, referring to the infamous Professor Moriarty (who at this point in the Sherlock Holmes canon has not been publicly recognized for a master criminal) is a suggestive insight of the knowledge Holmes has of the professor’s criminal endeavors.
"Dear me, Watson, is it possible that you have not penetrated the fact that the case hangs upon the missing dumb-bell?"
This classic quote, similar to many others in the canon, is a classic “Holmes conundrum.” As Watson and the police force, as well as the reader, draw misleading conclusions from “obvious” clues (footprints, fingerprints, etc.), Holmes fixates on a single detail that seems to have no bearing on the case whatsoever: in this case, a missing dumb-bell.
"Are we never to get out of the Valley of Fear?"
This question, asked by Mrs. Douglas of her husband, informs the reader of the cloud underwhich Douglas lives, and also refers to a literal valley in which the man once lived.
"I asked him when he recovered who Bodymaster McGinty was, and whose body he was master of. 'Never of mine, thank God!' he answered with a laugh, and that was all I could get from him."
This important quote introduces indirectly the character of Boss McGinty, and the terror associated with him. McGinty is one of the major villains of the story.
"Yes," McMurdo answered slowly. "Birdy Edwards is here. I am Birdy Edwards!"
This quote, arguably the most poignant of the entire story, reveals that McMurdo, a character believed for the entirety of the novel to be a criminal, is really a Pinkerton detective. It is a somewhat rare "plot twist" in the Sherlock Holmes canon which does not often contain sudden reversals of character. By this simple revealation, previous events suddenly come into a new and sharper focus.
"Dear me, Mr. Holmes. Dear me!"
This line, which is in fact a note sent from Professor Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes, is an example of Doyle's brilliant writing. This simple statement informs Sherlock Holmes that Douglas has been murdered, and that Moriarty has once again triumphed over Holmes. It is somehow made all the more odious by its simplicity and its facelessness, adding to the loathing the reader feels towards Holmes' nemesis.
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Sometime after Douglas flees England, Holmes receives a cryptic message which reads only “Dear me, Mr. Holmes, dear me!” From this, Holmes deduces that Moriarty, the sender of the note, has succeeded in killing Douglas.