“The roughs had also fled at the appearance of Peterson, so that he was left in possession of the field of battle, and also of the spoils of victory in the shape of this battered hat and a most unimpeachable Christmas goose.”
“Which surely he restored to their owner?”
“My dear fellow, there lies the problem.’”
This Conan Doyle story is not one of the detective’s most high-stakes adventures, but hits all the right Holmesian buttons: disguises, esoteric ‘deductions’, intrigue, put-out members of London-based aristocracy and thwarted fowl play. The relationship between arrant HoImes and his chronicler is pitched perfectly and has a real brusque sweetness, while the ‘Cuvier’s feather’-style extrapolation of details to further the plot makes this a sheer pompy, almost-pulpy joy. I read it every Christmas and use the phrase and notion of disjecta membra with horrid vigour.
First heard as part of the BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of the Sherlock Holmes canon starring Clive Merrison and John Williams, broadcast between 1989 and 1998. Originally published in the Strand Magazine, January 1892.