“The Boscombe Valley Mystery” has all the elements to be a much longer and expansive family saga. A brutal murder, a wrongly accused, a deathbed, an unspeakable history, son and daughter, scheme and blackmail, love and romance… So I am really surprised that all these were packaged into a short story and that is it.

Despite the dirty origin of the wealth and the murder, the reader has to feel somewhat sympathetic of the old man, who was tormented for a good part of his life. Granted, he might well deserve the blackmail because of his robbery past, but so did the tormentor he killed. In other words, they both deserved death.

In an alternative world, the son and daughter might find out about the truth, and the seeds of revenge sowed for a bigger fallout. But not here, by making two old men dead, Doyle also removed the sin of the robber and the blackmailer. He actually went even further, and hinted the son and daughter eventually would get married without ever knowing the dirty truth. All sins forgot and all forgiven. Start over, all nice and good, and a well-off beautiful young couple happily ever after.

I am not sure if this is ablution or mocking of the British colonial history.