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This is shameful ... I should retain what I read better, but, alas, I am human. And so I now seek help from those wiser than I am. A few years ago I read some Edgar Allan Poe short stories. The book consisted of:
MS Found in a Bottle
The Mystery of Marie Roget
The Oblong Box
The Purloined Letter
Well, somewhere in one of these stories the detective (probably Dupin) examined the evidence, and some objections to it. My memory is hazy now, but somehow the popular belief regarding the evidence was wrong, and the detective exposed it as such. That is, a certain part was not credible, and this should have ended a certain theory but instead ended a different theory that did not depend on this evidence. I am trying to find this passage, and now I no longer can. By the way, I have an even vaguer recollection of something similar in Sherlock Holmes, whose complete works I read way earlier than I read Edgar Allen Poe, and if anybody can point me to a relevant reference in either one, I shall be eternally grateful. Thank you!
With regard to Sherlock Holmes, he asserts - counterintuitively - that there is a greater risk of crime in the countryside than in the city.
By eleven o’clock the next day we were well upon our way to the old English capital. Holmes had been buried in the morning papers all the way down, but after we had passed the Hampshire border he threw them down and began to admire the scenery. It was an ideal spring day, a light blue sky, flecked with little fleecy white clouds drifting across from west to east. The sun was shining very brightly, and yet there was an exhilarating nip in the air, which set an edge to a man’s energy. All over the countryside, away to the rolling hills around Aldershot, the little red and grey roofs of the farm-steadings peeped out from amid the light green of the new foliage.
“Are they not fresh and beautiful?” I cried with all the enthusiasm of a man fresh from the fogs of Baker Street.
But Holmes shook his head gravely.
“Do you know, Watson,” said he, “that it is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.”
“Good heavens!” I cried. “Who would associate crime with these dear old homesteads?”
“They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”
“You horrify me!”
“But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard’s blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser. Had this lady who appeals to us for help gone to live in Winchester, I should never have had a fear for her. It is the five miles of country which makes the danger.
The Adventure of the Copper Beeches
Thank you, I remember that one! And I decided to go back and read Edgar Allan Poe again, not only to find what I was looking for, but also because it's just fun to read. So I did it, and I found what I was after. It was in Marie Roget, the part about had it been murder, then the murderers would have sunk the body. So therefore it couldn't have been murder? The fact that it was had already been established.
The only Poe I've read is The Raven. Since he lived between 1809 - 1849, his works are out of copyright. There is a good selection at Project Gutenburg. I'll have to dip in.
But later books have been published. My compilation (I mean that one that I purchased -- not that I published the compilation myself!) is from 1995.
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