Annoyed with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Annoyed with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My wife and I read stories to each other. It is a great way to go to sleep. At some point we started to do the Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A faithful translation of the originals.

The books are fun.

It is clear that crime novels have come a long way since 1887.

But there is one thing about the story structure that really annoyed us.

It happens at the end of some cases. The culprit has been found and arrested, it is more or less clear what happened. Holmes has had all his moments of cleverness. Now all we need is something to conclude the story.

But then the culprit gets a backstory. And that backstory is told in very much detail. Either by himself or just by the narrator. That’s fine and all, but it doesn’t add to the action. It is just another plot, nearly completely unrelated to what the book is about.

Examples would be:

(I will admit that this seems to be only a problem of the earlier books.)

It feels like the author had thought of this backstory for the baddie and - when he finished writing - noticed that he did never use it in the tale. So instead of working it into the text he just pasted it in at the end, like an appendix.

This takes away from the books flow, and it makes me sad because I like them a lot.

It’s fine though, the later books don’t have the problem (or at least to a lesser extend).