After two dramatic novella length stories, now I am entering into the much shorter ones. However, despite its length, A Scandal in Bohemia should occupy a unique position in the Sherlock Holmes series because of the heroine, Irene Adler.
There is not much deduction here. Yeah, Holmes did made a usual deduction on the identity of the king, but the case itself, if it can be called a case, was rather about improvisation than deduction. Also there was no underlying story and/or history. In other words, not much about “cracking” the case, but mostly the intrigue of Irene Adler the character.
And it was smartly done. The story is an excellent demonstration of less is more in building a character. Doyle avoided describing Irene Adler with direct details. Rather, we learned just a bit from the King, saw a bit through Holme’s eyes, and sneak-peaked a bit from her quick reaction of Holme’s scheme. Of course making her a mystery with unanswered questions was intentional from the writer’s part, as Irene was guaranteed to return. But the brief character-building was enough to set her up as a strong, smart, and independent heroine. Even Holmes retreated to the supporting role. In contrast, the King of Bohemia, despite the masculine and royal image, appeared paranoid almost to the point of comical.
From Mary to Irene, one can almost claim that there is a feminist theme in the Sherlock Holmes series. It is really refreshing.