The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle is the seventh short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Christmas has just passed when Dr Watson goes to Baker Street to see Sherlock Holmes. On his arrival he finds his friend thinking over a battered hat brought to him by a commissionaire named Peterson. It came into his possession when Peterson witnessed a scuffle in the street; the victim dropped both his hat and his Christmas goose. He has brought them to Sherlock Holmes so that they might be returned to their owner as Peterson has no clue as to work out his identity for the man fled after the attack.
However, Holmes thinks it unlikely that the owner will be found, and sends Peterson home to cook the goose, but the man returns and produces the blue carbuncle, claiming that it was found inside the bird. Naturally, Holmes realises that there is a larger mystery here and sets off to discover what it is.
“One of those little incidents which will happen when you have four million human beings all jostling each other within the space of a few square miles. Amid the action and reaction of so dense a swarm of humanity, every possible combination of events may be expected to take place, and many a little problem will be presented which may be striking and bizarre without being criminal.”
This was an intriguing and engaging short story, and in terms of enjoyment, sits around the middle of the stories I’ve read so far from The Adventures of the Sherlock Holmes. It just so happened that I reached this story in the collection in time for my Festive Reads Fortnight reading challenge, which was a stroke of luck.
Sherlock’s analysis of the hat is interesting. Here we hear him discussing such things as phrenology and how much the hat owner’s wife loves her husband.
This is a great Christmas read with a good message. It’s nice to see that Sherlock Holmes, who often appears cold and aloof, can be compassionate and merciful.