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Librarian's note: this entry relates to the story "The Red-Headed League." Collections of short stories by the author can be found elsewhere. The story is #2 of twelve in "The Adventures of Sherlock Homes." In "The Red-Headed League," Holmes is engaged initially by a pawnbroker. He is upset by the loss of a well-paying job. One that doesn't require many hours, and those whi Librarian's note: this entry relates to the story "The Red-Headed League." Collections of short stories by the author can be found elsewhere. The story is #2 of twelve in "The Adventures of Sherlock Homes." In "The Red-Headed League," Holmes is engaged initially by a pawnbroker. He is upset by the loss of a well-paying job. One that doesn't require many hours, and those which it does, don't interfere with his busiest times at the shop. In Mr. Holmes' mind it may be much more than that, the beginnings of a daring bank robbery. Using minute details of the small mystery, he is able to solve the larger one. "Depend upon it," said Holmes to Watson in "A Case of Identity." "There is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace."


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Librarian's note: this entry relates to the story "The Red-Headed League." Collections of short stories by the author can be found elsewhere. The story is #2 of twelve in "The Adventures of Sherlock Homes." In "The Red-Headed League," Holmes is engaged initially by a pawnbroker. He is upset by the loss of a well-paying job. One that doesn't require many hours, and those whi Librarian's note: this entry relates to the story "The Red-Headed League." Collections of short stories by the author can be found elsewhere. The story is #2 of twelve in "The Adventures of Sherlock Homes." In "The Red-Headed League," Holmes is engaged initially by a pawnbroker. He is upset by the loss of a well-paying job. One that doesn't require many hours, and those which it does, don't interfere with his busiest times at the shop. In Mr. Holmes' mind it may be much more than that, the beginnings of a daring bank robbery. Using minute details of the small mystery, he is able to solve the larger one. "Depend upon it," said Holmes to Watson in "A Case of Identity." "There is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace."

30 review for The Red-Headed League - a Sherlock Holmes Short Story

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    Update: “The Red-headed League” is #2 on Arthur Conan Doyle’s list of his favorite Sherlock Holmes stories. I wasn’t all that impressed with it the first time I read it, but I decided to reread it with an open mind, and you know? I liked it quite a bit more the second time around. The concept is quirky and unique, it’s fun to see Sherlock in action here, and it’s a mystery that actually gives the reader enough clues to solve the puzzle for themselves. 3.75 stars. The League of Extraordinary Redhe Update: “The Red-headed League” is #2 on Arthur Conan Doyle’s list of his favorite Sherlock Holmes stories. I wasn’t all that impressed with it the first time I read it, but I decided to reread it with an open mind, and you know? I liked it quite a bit more the second time around. The concept is quirky and unique, it’s fun to see Sherlock in action here, and it’s a mystery that actually gives the reader enough clues to solve the puzzle for themselves. 3.75 stars. The League of Extraordinary Redheads Sherlock Holmes has a new case, brought to him by an elderly, overweight pawnbroker with fiery red hair. After Sherlock, as usual to begin these stories, takes a couple of minutes to impress Dr. Watson and the pawnbroker with a quick display of his amazing observational and deductive talents, they get down to business. Jabez Wilson, the pawnbroker, tells Sherlock and Watson that he was invited to join the Red-Headed League two months ago. As a member of this obscure group, he was paid four pounds per week to sit for four hours a day and copy out the Encyclopaedia Britannica by hand. And now the League has mysteriously closed up shop, with just a sign on the door saying that it’s dissolved. Wilson, disappointed with the abrupt loss of this useful supplement to his income, asks Sherlock Holmes to investigate. (WHY? It's four pounds.* And nobody ripped him off, so why hire a detective?) But Sherlock, wiser than I, understands that there's a bigger game afoot. *ETA: Wait, hold the press. My Stanford U. source for "A Scandal in Bohemia" tells me that "Three hundred pounds would equal more than $100,000 today," which means that £4/week = over $1300/week in current money. Okay, now I'm more impressed. Actually, I figured this one out. But I think maybe I read it once before, many years ago, so I'm not patting myself on the back too hard. And reading about a massive crowd of redheads was fun.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    “As a rule,” said Holmes, “the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify.” I suspect it is the quirkiness of The Red-Headed League which makes it one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes stories. It is far from complex, but it is very entertaining, and reveals several sides to Sherlock Holmes’s personality. I love to read how he would “chuckle, and wrigg “As a rule,” said Holmes, “the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify.” I suspect it is the quirkiness of The Red-Headed League which makes it one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes stories. It is far from complex, but it is very entertaining, and reveals several sides to Sherlock Holmes’s personality. I love to read how he would “chuckle, and wriggle in his chair, as was his habit when in high spirits”, about his classification of the case as a “three-pipe problem”, and the way he insisted on dashing off to hear the famous violinist Sarasate play for a few hours, as he found the German music he would play in the concert (as opposed to Italian or French) a stimulus to his analytical abilities: “It is introspective, and I want to introspect.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also had a soft spot for this one, placing The Red-Headed League at second, in his list of his twelve favourite Sherlock Holmes short stories, out of the fifty-six he wrote. Yet The Red-Headed League is actually only his second Sherlock Holmes short story. The fictional private detective, or “consulting detective” as he is known in the stories, first appeared in print in a novel “A Study in Scarlet”, in 1887. However, most readers get to know him through the short stories. The first collection of these is “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” which was published at the end of October 1892. This contains the twelve monthly stories which had been published in “The Strand Magazine” between July 1891 and June 1892, with the original illustrations by Sidney Paget. The Red-Headed League had first been published in the magazine the previous year, in August 1891. The story, narrated as ever by his friend Doctor John Watson, begins when an excited Sherlock Holmes “pulled me abruptly” into the room. He has a visitor already, a Mr. Jabez Wilson, who is relating: “a narrative which promises to be one of the most singular which I have listened to for some time … As far as I have heard, it is impossible for me to say whether the present case is an instance of crime or not, but the course of events is certainly among the most singular that I have ever listened to.” As we too listen to Mr. Jabez Wilson’s account, we realise that is is indeed bizarre, although as yet there seems nothing sinister about it, and no crime has been committed. Indeed, Mr. Jabez Wilson seems an unremarkable sort of man, even “pompous, and slow”, but he does have “fiery red hair” to distinguish him. The astute detective, however, notices far more: “Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time done manual labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of writing lately, I can deduce nothing else.” Those readers who are already well acquainted with Sherlock Holmes’s powers of deduction relish this sort of detail, not least for the reaction it provokes in the object of such close examination. Sherlock Holmes gives a detailed explanation of his deductions, only to meet with Mr. Jabez Wilson’s knowing comment: “Well, I never! … I thought at first that you had done something clever, but I see that there was nothing in it after all” leading to Sherlock Holmes’s reply, as rueful as ever: “I begin to think, Watson, … that I make a mistake in explaining.” Incisive his thoughts may be, and expert at analysing human behaviour, but for some reason Sherlock Holmes never seems to anticipate this reaction! And so begins the curious story which Jabez Wilson has to tell. He is a pawnbroker, but only just making a living in his profession. In fact the only reason he can afford an an assistant is because the man he has taken on, is willing to work for half the usual pay, in order to learn the business. A couple of months earlier, this assistant, Vincent Spaulding, had drawn Wilson’s attention to an advertisement in the paper, with the heartfelt words: “I wish to the Lord, Mr. Wilson, that I was a red-headed man.” Jabez Wilson proceeded to show Holmes and Watson the newspaper cutting. It announced that there was a vacancy in an organisation called “The League of the Red-headed Men”. Vincent Spaulding was surprised that Jabez Wilson had never heard of an organisation which could be so useful to him, and explained that it had been set up some years ago, by a local man who had then emigrated to America, and made his fortune. This millionaire, Ezekiah Hopkins, was very eccentric. He was himself red-headed, and wished to give a helping hand to all red-headed men: “From all I hear it is splendid pay, and very little to do” said Vincent Spaulding. Jabez Wilson agreed that it was worth a look, and the two of them shut up shop for the day, and marched along Fleet Street to the office where interviews would be held. Vincent Spaulding had assured his boss that “there are more vacancies than there are men,”, and that Jabez Wilson’s hair was of the exact fiery hue which was required, so he decided he stood a good chance. He would certainly need to, for the City ran amok with red-headed men: “From north, south, east, and west every man who had a shade of red in his hair had tramped into the City to answer the advertisement. Fleet-street was choked with red-headed folk, and Pope’s-court looked like a coster’s orange barrow.” Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson listened to the increasingly odd tale, of how Jabez Wilson went into a room, to be interviewed by a man with even redder hair than his own. A strange enough interview it proved to be, with a man called Duncan Ross, who much admired his hair. In fact he was so impressed by it that he gave it a great big tug, making Jabez Wilson yell with pain, in order to ensure that it was not false. (If you are not laughing by now, I would be most surprised. Certainly Holmes and Watson were both engrossed by the story—and most entertained.) When Jabez Wilson enquired as to the work he would be expected to perform, he was assured that it was nominal. In fact it would fit in with the duties at his pawnbroker’s shop very well, as it would just be for four hours in the mornings. The work was to copy out the “Encyclopædia Britannica”, supplying his own pens, ink and paper. For this he would receive £4 a week, regularly. The only condition was that during these hours he must not on any account leave the office. Jabez Wilson accepted these conditions, although at home later, he began to regret it, and think it must all be an elaborate hoax. Nevertheless he turned up the next day to perform his duties, and was duly rewarded at the end of the week with the four promised golden sovereigns. This went on for eight weeks, and Jabez Wilson was quite content with the work (except that he was rather looking forward to progressing to the letter “B”!) when the entire project came to a sudden end. Sadly he held up a card to show the two listening men. It announced that the Red-headed League had been dissolved. “Sherlock Holmes and I surveyed this curt announcement and the rueful face behind it, until the comical side of the affair so completely overtopped every other consideration that we both burst out into a roar of laughter.” Of course Jabez Wilson did not care for such a reaction from the consulting detective, and indignantly demanded to know if Sherlock Holmes considered that he had been the victim of a practical joke. For himself, he said, he keenly felt the loss of a regular income of four pounds a week. What is the reader to make of this crazy situation? Should Holmes and Doctor Watson pursue it to get to the truth? Of course they do. They ask questions. Was there any trace of Duncan Ross, the man who had interviewed Jabez Wilson? There was no joy there. Duncan Ross was evidently a pseudonym, as the rooms had been rented by a solicitor, whose forwarding address turned out not to be a solicitor’s office but “a manufactory of artificial knee-caps”. The case becomes curiouser and—if possible—more comically absurd. Sherlock Holmes goes to visit Jabez Wilson’s pawnbroker’s shop, and seems to be interested in details which his friend Doctor Watson cannot fathom at all. Why does he rap his stick on the pavement? Why does he examine the knees of the assistant Vincent Spaulding? Why is he so fascinated by the fact that the assistant has a white splash of acid upon his forehead, and that his ears are pierced for earrings? And why is he so interested in the buildings and premises around the pawnbroker’s shop? Sherlock Holmes decides that this is quite a three pipe problem, and proceeds to sit down, smoke his pipe, and analyse the information he has. Then he leaps up, and announcing that listening to a famous violinist will help him reach a conclusion, the two go off to their concert. While they are listening to their music, you can decide whether or not to unclick this spoiler, to see what happens next, and learn the solution. Many of us might feel placed in the same position as Doctor Watson: “I trust that I am not more dense than my neighbours, but I was always oppressed with a sense of my own stupidity in my dealings with Sherlock Holmes. Here I had heard what he had heard, I had seen what he had seen, and yet from his words it was evident that he saw clearly not only what had happened, but what was about to happen, while to me the whole business was still confused and grotesque.” But here it is: (view spoiler)[After the concert, Sherlock Holmes announces that a serious crime is about to be committed, and asks Watson to meet him at his office at ten o’clock that night. Also present are two other men—a Scotland Yard detective named Inspector Peter Jones, and a Mr. Merryweather, who is a director of the “City and Suburban Bank”, which is located next door to the pawnbroker’s. Sherlock Holmes has asked them all to be there, as he suspects that the bank is to be a target for a daring robbery that very night. The bank is currently holding far more assets than usual, because they have taken delivery of some gold bullion—thirty thousand napoleons to be exact—from the Bank of France. There follows a suspenseful hour or more, as the four men lay in wait in the vault of the City and Suburban Bank, in pitch black, and not making a sound. Sherlock Holmes has ascertained that they are about to meet John Clay, a notorious criminal: a “murderer, thief, smasher and forger.” Furthermore, he says he: “would rather have my bracelets on him than on any criminal in London. He’s a remarkable man, is young John Clay. His grandfather was a Royal Duke, and he himself has been to Eton and Oxford. His brain is as cunning as his fingers, and though we meet signs of him at every turn, we never know where to find the man himself. He’ll crack a crib in Scotland one week, and be raising money to build an orphanage in Cornwall the next.” Sure enough, as Doctor Watson feels the tension must break, they notice a light shining through a crack in the floor. “At first it was but a lurid spark upon the stone pavement. Then it lengthened out until it became a yellow line, and then, without any warning or sound, a gash seemed to open and a hand appeared, a white, almost womanly hand, which felt about in the centre of the little area of light. For a minute or more the hand, with its writhing fingers, protruded out of the floor. Then it was withdrawn as suddenly as it appeared, and all was dark again save the single lurid spark, which marked a chink between the stones.” A man with a boyish face emerges from a tunnel, pulling his accomplice after him. They are the aforementioned John Clay, and his helper Archie. Vincent Spaulding had been an alias for John Clay, and Archie played the part of Duncan Ross. Together they had cut a tunnel through into the vault’s floor. Quickly Sherlock Holmes springs out and seizes the intruder, leaving the inspector to deal with Archie. John Clay realises that he has no chance of escape but is still—ludicrously enough—keen to assert his superior social position: “I beg that you will not touch me with your filthy hands … You may not be aware that I have royal blood in my veins. Have the goodness also when you address me always to say ‘sir’ and ‘please.’” Back at his house in Baker Streeet, Sherlock Holmes explains the missing parts of the story to a bewildered Doctor Watson. The preposterous Red-headed league had been an invention purely suggested by the coincidence of Archie’s fiery hair colour matching the bright red of Jabez Wilson’s, and the happy fact that the pawnbroker was in need of ready money—and “not over-bright”. As soon as the tunnel had been completed, there was no more need for the pawnbroker to be got out of the way, in case he should hear the give-away sound of tunnelling, so the league was “dissolved”. Although paying Wilson four pounds a week was expensive, it was a pittance compared with the huge amount of gold coins they were planning to steal. Sherlock Holmes, and perhaps the reader, had realised from the beginning that the Red-headed League was simply too preposterous to be real, and that it must therefore have been a cunning ploy to get Wilson out of his shop for a few hours every day. Added to this was the suspicious fact that Vincent Spaulding was willing to work for so little money. He had also invented a hobby for himself of photography, which conveniently meant that he spent a lot of time alone in the cellar, developing his photos. The final clue was that there was a bank nearby. The reason Sherlock Holmes had pounded on the pavement outside Jabez Wilson’s shop, was to determine whether the ground was hollow underneath, because he suspected that Vincent Spaulding was digging a tunnel to the bank. He had knocked on the door, ostensibly for directions, but in truth so that he could see whether the knees of Victor Spaulding’s trousers were dirty. The fact that time was of the essence was clear, because the league had been dissolved so suddenly. This could only mean that the robbery was imminent, so Sherlock Holmes set in motion his plan to capture John Clay in the act. Sherlock Holmes finishes by expressing his regret, that such a fine creative mind had been wasted on criminal activity. (hide spoiler)] Apart from narrating the story, Doctor John Watson’s role is atypically limited. He does not contribute to the action of the story in any way, or even help to solve the case. However, he is essential to the story. It is only through Doctor Watson that we can see what is happening: that is, what Doctor Watson himself experiences, as distinct from Sherlock Holmes’s own reasoned deductions. It is down to Doctor Watson’s good nature, eager attitude, and the camaraderie between the two friends, that this story has such life, and is not merely a dry account of a crime and its solution. By putting us in Doctor Watson’s shoes, the author makes the story far more accessible, as we feel an empathy with him that we may not feel for the brilliant incisive mind of Sherlock Holmes. It was a stroke of genius to pair these two, and paved the way for many imitations, also depicting an extraordinary detective and their more plodding but loyal side-kick. We are intrigued by the problem-solving genius of Sherlock Holmes, and may even fantasise a little of having such abilities ourselves. But we are also interested in the human side: the interaction between the two friends. It is tempting to think of Sherlock Holmes as being capable of solving any puzzle. Almost always, he seems to employ pure reasoning. Yet in The Red-Headed League we see multiple sides of Holmes. We see him move from quiet contemplation to almost frenetic activity. Doctor Watson thinks his friend has fallen asleep over his pipe, and yet moments later Holmes is virtually pushing him out of the door to go to a concert. He even comments that Sherlock Holmes has a “dual nature”. In The Red-headed League we see his extremes of behaviour, but also see that Sherlock Holmes is also capable of complicated, nuanced emotions. He calls his friend “dear Watson”, but usually pushes away any attempt to find out what he is thinking. We are not even sure of his motives in solving cases. Sherlock Holmes implies that he is not interested in anything “ordinary”. Admittedly he does hand criminals over to the police, but he is primarily interested in the case as an intellectual challenge, an entertaining puzzle to be solved. In The Red-Headed League, he also implies that his reward partly came settling a private score with the perpetrator, and not from any sense of justice. Interestingly, in the TV series starring Jeremy Brett (who, in my view, gives the most authentic depiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character), the identity of the villain in the episode from 1985, is changed to be that of his arch enemy Professor Moriarty. He has masterminded the crime itself, which has been carried out by his star pupil. This story is particularly enjoyable, not only for the more than usual amount of humour it contains, but also for the simplicity of the eventual crime. From such a bizarre set of premises, Doctor Watson and readers alike expect to read a complicated explanation. Yet the truth is far simpler. The third aspect which lifts this story above some others, for me, is that we see a dynamic Sherlock Holmes, in so many guises. He veers wildly from one extreme to the other, seeming to be far more eccentric than he appears in some of the later stories. Sherlock Holmes may be of the most recognisable figures in all of world literature, and there have been dozens of adaptations of this story alone. We all have an idea about what he looks like, and how he behaves, but this early story may surprise you. And Sherlock Holmes’s own view of such a bizarre crime? “‘It saved me from ennui,’ he answered, yawning. ‘Alas! I already feel it closing in upon me. My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little problems help me to do so.’” And surely we can all give three cheers that he feels this way.

  3. 5 out of 5

    W

    A pawnbroker answers a curious newspaper advertisement. The employer is looking for people with red hair. He gets the job and is asked to start copying the Encyclopedia Brittanica by hand.Why exactly ? An enjoyable Holmes mystery,watched as a TV adaptation as well.

  4. 5 out of 5

    m a r y l i z

    "My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little problems help me to do so." Probably one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes short stories and the perfect cosy read for a Sunday afternoon. (Not to mention, I needed something short to boost my reading challenge. *cough*) 4 stars "My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little problems help me to do so." Probably one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes short stories and the perfect cosy read for a Sunday afternoon. (Not to mention, I needed something short to boost my reading challenge. *cough*) 4 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    The criminal was intelligent, cleverly manipulating the red headed man since he knew the man could use money and had a greedy nature. As usual, Sherlock Holmes did a great job solving the case. Holmes thrives on challenges. "It saved me from ennui....Alas! I already feel it closing in upon me. My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little problems help me to do so." The criminal was intelligent, cleverly manipulating the red headed man since he knew the man could use money and had a greedy nature. As usual, Sherlock Holmes did a great job solving the case. Holmes thrives on challenges. "It saved me from ennui....Alas! I already feel it closing in upon me. My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little problems help me to do so."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Oh good god, gingers?! A whole league of them?!?!?!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jim Ef

    8.5/10 Re-read One of the most unusual cases Sherlock ever had and a fun reading experience. Not only it's interesting but also not so hard to solve, well most of it at least. 8.5/10 Re-read One of the most unusual cases Sherlock ever had and a fun reading experience. Not only it's interesting but also not so hard to solve, well most of it at least.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    I don't want to say this was an easy case, but the fact that I guessed it before it was revealed still remains. Read with a LibriVox audiobook. I don't want to say this was an easy case, but the fact that I guessed it before it was revealed still remains. Read with a LibriVox audiobook.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ann (Inky Labyrinth)

    Barely made three stars on this one. Worst Sherlock story I've read/listened to so far. Great setup but extremely anti-climatic and almost pointless. Barely made three stars on this one. Worst Sherlock story I've read/listened to so far. Great setup but extremely anti-climatic and almost pointless.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Chung

    This is my first introduction to a Sherlock Holmes short story. I read it out loud to my children 8 and 10. Both of my boys enjoyed the story. In this short story, a red-headed man by the name of Mr. Wilson has sought the advice of Sherlock Holmes in a strange situation that has befallen him. Mr. Wilson was employed by a Mr. Duncan Ross, to copy from an Encyclopedia for 4 pounds a week. After several weeks of nominal work, the 'Red-Headed League' vanished without a trance and no one knew what the This is my first introduction to a Sherlock Holmes short story. I read it out loud to my children 8 and 10. Both of my boys enjoyed the story. In this short story, a red-headed man by the name of Mr. Wilson has sought the advice of Sherlock Holmes in a strange situation that has befallen him. Mr. Wilson was employed by a Mr. Duncan Ross, to copy from an Encyclopedia for 4 pounds a week. After several weeks of nominal work, the 'Red-Headed League' vanished without a trance and no one knew what the business was and who Mr. Duncan Ross was. Sherlock took the case, because it was so unique and goes about solving the mystery. I enjoyed Sherlock's eccentric-ness and can't wait to read more by Aurthur Conan Doyle.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darinda

    The second short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. A humorous account of a man who inquires about a job looking to hire a red headed man. When the job doesn't go as expected, he hires Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery. The second short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. A humorous account of a man who inquires about a job looking to hire a red headed man. When the job doesn't go as expected, he hires Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    This is another amazing adventure from Sherlock Holmes where he takes on a client with a most preposterous tale, but being the master detective that he is, quickly deduces a more nefarious scheme to the shear delight of the reader.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jack Heath

    4 Stars. What is it with this pawnbroker? Is he really credulous enough to believe such nonsense? P.T. Barnum, the 19th century circus king, is supposed to have said, "There's a sucker born every minute," and Jabez Wilson, Sherlock Holmes' new client with flame red hair, makes the grade. Wilson is upset; he has lost his part-time job. When his assistant pawnbroker showed him an advertisement in the "Morning Chronicle" about a Red-Headed League of similarly attributed men, and the organization's 4 Stars. What is it with this pawnbroker? Is he really credulous enough to believe such nonsense? P.T. Barnum, the 19th century circus king, is supposed to have said, "There's a sucker born every minute," and Jabez Wilson, Sherlock Holmes' new client with flame red hair, makes the grade. Wilson is upset; he has lost his part-time job. When his assistant pawnbroker showed him an advertisement in the "Morning Chronicle" about a Red-Headed League of similarly attributed men, and the organization's desire to hire a like person with pay of 4 pounds a week, he jumped at the chance - income being down at the shop and all. This story appeared in "The Strand" in 1891, and in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" in 1892. I read it in 2020's "Sherlock Holmes the Complete Novels and Stories." What were Wilson's responsibilities in this new post? From 10am to 2pm every day, he copied the Encyclopedia Britannica starting with the letter 'A.' Can you imagine hand copying Wikipedia on foolscap paper as your job? Crazy, but all Wilson wants is to get it back! Holmes sees through the smoke, and begins to ask questions. You'll enjoy the action. (December 2020)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jason Donoghue

    An enjoyable read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    RJ from the LBC

    Holmes beats criminals like a...dirty mattress

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia

    I feel that Sherlock Holmes is one of the worst detectives in all of literature. While he is always right, he draws his conclusions out of thin air. The point of a mystery novel is not to have an all powerful always right detective who draws conclusions that one would never think of, But rather to have the solution to the mystery be a surprising twist, THAT IF YOU HAD READ THE CLUES RIGHT YOU COULD HAVE SOLVED!!!! Arthur Conan Doyle writes his mysteries without any wish to put down relevant clue I feel that Sherlock Holmes is one of the worst detectives in all of literature. While he is always right, he draws his conclusions out of thin air. The point of a mystery novel is not to have an all powerful always right detective who draws conclusions that one would never think of, But rather to have the solution to the mystery be a surprising twist, THAT IF YOU HAD READ THE CLUES RIGHT YOU COULD HAVE SOLVED!!!! Arthur Conan Doyle writes his mysteries without any wish to put down relevant clues. The Red Headed League is a prime example of this. Sherlock Holmes solves the case manly from unmentioned muddy knees!! So why is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle considered one of the best mystery writers of any time? I cannot even begin to imagine. He murdered his detective and then brought him back to life for goodness sake!!! He isn't even the first mystery writer. Wilkie Collins, Author of the Moonstone, and The Woman in White, is not only earlier by over twenty years, but also writes much MUCH better books!! If you want to try for actually GOOD mysteries, Read Wilkie Collin's, or Agatha Christie's, or Dorothy Sayers's, or James Anderson's or Josephine Tey's. Most of these writer's WORST books were TONS better than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's BEST books. So why do people think Sherlock Holmes is a great detective? Possibly because they haven't read any others. For my short stories course in literature in seventh grade I was forced to read this book and I was not told to read any other mysteries by any other author. Another book listed as a possibility for literature was The Hound of the Baskervilles, A completely horrible book. None of my literature lists ever gave me a choice of reading Wilkie Collins, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, or James Anderson! We all like Sherlock Holmes because we our never given an OPPORTUNITY to like Hercules Poirot or Lord Peter Wimsey!! You don't have to be brainwashed children reading only Sir Author Conan Doyle because that is whom you are told to read!! Read other mysteries and make up your own mind!!!! Some of my favorite books (so far) of the authors I listed in my little rant: The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins The Lady in White, by Wilkie Collins The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie Murder Must Advertise, by Dorothy Sayers Strong Poison, by Dorothy Sayers Clouds of Witness, by Dorothy Sayers The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy, by James Anderson The Affair of the Mutilated Mink, by James Anderson The Affair of the Thirty-Nine Cuff Links, by James Anderson The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey

  17. 5 out of 5

    DJ

    "The Red-Headed League" is the second story in the The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes story collection, the third publication in the Sherlock Holmes series (after the first two novels, so the first story collection). Holmes is hired by a pawn-broker who has been working for 2 months for the mysterious Red-Headed League, only to turn up one day to discover the offices closed and his manager vanished with no explanation... A very interesting and unique short story. "The Red-Headed League" is the second story in the The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes story collection, the third publication in the Sherlock Holmes series (after the first two novels, so the first story collection). Holmes is hired by a pawn-broker who has been working for 2 months for the mysterious Red-Headed League, only to turn up one day to discover the offices closed and his manager vanished with no explanation... A very interesting and unique short story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Em*bedded-in-books*

    Another good one . The stories are progressively increasing in intrigue . And am coming to love my time spend with Sherlock and co. Here a man is sought out to do some trivial work for a company just because his hair is the exact shade of red and is perplexed when one fine day his workplace is shut down and all traces of the firm he works for disappears .

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Spencer

    This one was a lot of fun because I figured out what was going on by the end of it and it made me feel smart. Quite so. Elementary. :D

  20. 4 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    Sherlock Holmes solves the case of the Red-Headed League.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile

    While it wasn't the most exciting of mysteries, it was interesting how Holmes came to the conclusion. While it wasn't the most exciting of mysteries, it was interesting how Holmes came to the conclusion.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Nutting

    Short story - just ok, no surprises.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brooklyn Tayla

    A short and sweet re-read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Red Headed League is about how malleable people are when they are promised money, or made to feel like a physical feature makes them better than others. The book begins with Sherlock’s ex-roommate, John Watson, deciding to drop into their old apartment to say hello. When Watson arrives, he sees that Sherlock has a new client in the house. Watson offers to leave, but Sherlock says that he could use Watson’s assistance with the case. Watson stays and the new client, Jabez Wilson, begins explainin The Red Headed League is about how malleable people are when they are promised money, or made to feel like a physical feature makes them better than others. The book begins with Sherlock’s ex-roommate, John Watson, deciding to drop into their old apartment to say hello. When Watson arrives, he sees that Sherlock has a new client in the house. Watson offers to leave, but Sherlock says that he could use Watson’s assistance with the case. Watson stays and the new client, Jabez Wilson, begins explaining his case. Jabez explains that a few weeks ago, his assistant brought him an ad for something called “The Red-Headed League.” The advertisement promised a place in the league and a small salary each week. There was only one vacancy in the league and there were specific requirements for the red hair color. Jabez decided to pursue the vacancy in the league and he went to interview. When Jabez arrived, his assistant managed to get him to the front of the line. Almost instantly after Jabez arrived into the interview office, the interviewer decided that he was fit for the vacancy. The interviewer told Jabez that he has to be at the League’s office from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. every day. Jabez accepts and he begins work the next day. Jabez is tasked with copying the Encyclopedia Britannica. He is told that he absolutely cannot leave the room or he will lose his position in the league. The work proceeds as usual for many weeks. Jabez collects his pay at the end of each week. Eight weeks after the start of Jabez’s work, the Red-Headed League suddenly stops. Jabez goes to the office and finds a note on a piece of cardboard that say the League is dissolved. Jabez asks the landlord if he knows where the man went. The landlord gives Jabez an address where the mysterious man said he was starting a business. Jabez goes to the address in hopes of keeping his pay, but he is disappointed to find that it is an artificial knee-caps manufacturer. Jabez says that that is when he decided to come to Sherlock for help. Sherlock asks Jabez about his assistant, and then dismisses Jabez. Sherlock invites Watson to come and see a concert with him. Watson accepts and the two venture off. When they arrive to the neighborhood where the concert is, Sherlock does some investigating. He quickly locates Jabez’s house/office, and he knocks on the door. The assistant answers and Sherlock asks him for directions. Sherlock and Watson leave and Sherlock says that the assistant is a very smart man. Sherlock and Watson enjoy the concert, then Sherlock tells Watson to go home. Sherlock says that Watson is to meet him back at their Baker Street apartment at 10 p.m. that night. He tells Watson to bring his army revolver. That night, Watson returns to Baker Street. He finds Sherlock with two others. One man is a detective with Scotland Yard, and the other is the director of the bank next to Jabez’s business. The men leave for the bank next to Jabez’s business. When they arrive, they go into a cellar beneath the bank. The bank director explains that there is a large french fortune in the cellar. Sherlock tells the men that they must be quiet so they don’t scare away the criminals they’re trying to catch. The men wait for the culprits to appear for quite some time. Eventually, the men see a hand come through the floor. They see as Mr. Jabez’s assistant climbs into the vault followed by a red head. The men quickly grab the assistant, but the accomplice “escapes.” He “escapes” into the hands of investigators and police that are waiting outside for him. The man that is caught in the cellar is John Clay. Clay is a murderer, thief, smasher, and forger. Sherlock, and the Scotland Yard detectives have been chasing him for a while. The book ends with the criminals being taken to jail and Sherlock explaining how he cracked the mystery. I am continuing on my Sherlock Holmes journey. This is story number 4. As I read these books, I try to be more like Sherlock. When I am out in the world, I’ve been trying to observe people more closely. It is, simultaneously, easier and harder than Sherlock makes it seem. These books are inspiring me to look at situations and people differently. It is curious to think of seeing things from another perspective, or through a different magnifying glass. I am still enjoying Arthur Conan Doyle’s work and I look forward to reading A Case of Identity next. -Jocelyn Kuntz Age 15

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    One more great Holmes story. I love Jabez Wilson's name and his gullible indignation. Holmes once again unravels a singular mystery with all his brilliant reasoning. One more great Holmes story. I love Jabez Wilson's name and his gullible indignation. Holmes once again unravels a singular mystery with all his brilliant reasoning.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rob Thompson

    “There are always some lunatics about. It would be a dull world without them.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Red Headed League Told from the perspective of Dr. Watson, this had a little less dialogue than previous short stories. The story involves (view spoiler)[Jabez Wilson, a pawnbroker. He consults Holmes about a job he gained only because of his red hair. The job took him away from his shop for a short period each afternoon. It involves him copying the Encyclopaedia Britannica - strange. After ei “There are always some lunatics about. It would be a dull world without them.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Red Headed League Told from the perspective of Dr. Watson, this had a little less dialogue than previous short stories. The story involves (view spoiler)[Jabez Wilson, a pawnbroker. He consults Holmes about a job he gained only because of his red hair. The job took him away from his shop for a short period each afternoon. It involves him copying the Encyclopaedia Britannica - strange. After eight weeks this comes to an end rather abruptly. Holmes visits the pawnbroker's shop and his interest is peaked. Of course, he decides to investigate. Watson and Holmes hide in a bank vault. They catch two thieves, who had dug a tunnel from the shop during the hours that Wilson was out each afternoon. (hide spoiler)] Case solved! Easy to read and finish in a sitting over a cup of tea.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    This case originates from a funny idea with such an ephemeral basis that made it quite comedic. For once (this never happens with the really good mysteries, never ever) I had an idea of where this going and what was about to happen. Unexpectedly in this piece that wasn't disappointing, actually quite refreshing. This case originates from a funny idea with such an ephemeral basis that made it quite comedic. For once (this never happens with the really good mysteries, never ever) I had an idea of where this going and what was about to happen. Unexpectedly in this piece that wasn't disappointing, actually quite refreshing.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fabi

    It's ok. Not the best one but I still very much enjoyed it. Sherlock is as amazing as always. It's just the crime isn't that fascinating. I'm excited to read the rest of Sherlock's adventures. It's ok. Not the best one but I still very much enjoyed it. Sherlock is as amazing as always. It's just the crime isn't that fascinating. I'm excited to read the rest of Sherlock's adventures.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jaksen

    I had to re-enter this review, originally from January 2016. Another in the series of Sherlock Holmes stories - shorts and longer. In this one Holmes is asked to solve what seems to be a relatively simple problem, that is, why was a red-headed man (a pawnbroker) hired to do nothing but copy pages out of the Encyclopedia Britannica? And, why was said job abruptly ended with little notice or warning? I figured this one out, or maybe I remembered reading it years ago. (Though I was sure this was one I had to re-enter this review, originally from January 2016. Another in the series of Sherlock Holmes stories - shorts and longer. In this one Holmes is asked to solve what seems to be a relatively simple problem, that is, why was a red-headed man (a pawnbroker) hired to do nothing but copy pages out of the Encyclopedia Britannica? And, why was said job abruptly ended with little notice or warning? I figured this one out, or maybe I remembered reading it years ago. (Though I was sure this was one I hadn't read.) The interplay between Holmes and Watson, and Holmes and those who come to him for help, is always deftly done. There is no murder here, but there is a crime, and reading the annotated version of the story fills in small details here and there that otherwise I - being American - might have missed. Great story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eye of Sauron

    One of the better Sherlock Holmes short stories; the idea of the Red-Headed League is hilarious and cleverly conceived.

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