At the beginning of the story, Sherlock as usual casually “accused” Watson of documenting his cases with excessive “sensationalism”, while he was merely making simple deductions based on facts. This adventure is precisely a case in point of this banter.
The facts of the case were straightforward:
- Ms. Hunter was hired at a salary way beyond what should be called reasonable.
- She was asked to dress and position in a specific way, and she found something that was similar but not hers.
- There was a certain wing of the estate that she was not supposed to go to, and she secretly found there was some person there.
From which the following deductions could be made respectively:
- Something was going on.
- Ms. Hunter was made to impersonate someone for someone else to see.
- Some person was kept up in the forbidden wing, and Ms. Hunter was not supposed to see that person (very much likely to be the person she was impersonating then).
These were the facts and deductions, which in the end fitted perfectly when the motives were revealed.
What about the rest – the the strange request, the mysterious man outside the window, the tresses, the inheritance, the locked-up daughter, the violent dog… “Sensationalism” as if to be intentionally overdone, in this adventure, even included Watson’s observation of Sherlock’s “special interest” towards Ms. Hunter…
This adventure, the last of the twelve collected in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, is almost overboard, a case in point resonating to Sherlock’s banter at the beginning of the story. But at the same time, Conan Doyle was also rebutting, “Sherlock, you are right about the sensationalism in my writing. But isn’t it also sensationalism that transforms boring detective logic and deduction into captivating detective stories?”