Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, September 21, 2019


Super Detective Library was a 68-page, digest-sized comic book with color covers and black and white artwork in the interiors.  The long-running British series featured a number of well-known fictional detectives in their 188 issues, including The Saint, Sexton Blake, Rip Kirby, Bulldog Drummond, The Toff, Blackshirt, Temple Fortune, and -- of course -- Sherlock Holmes.  Sherlock Holmes appeared in just three issues -- numbers 65, 74, and 77 -- with two adventures in each.  Five of the six adventures were based on Conan Doyle's stories.  One, "The Thames Afire," appears to be an original.

Holmes and Watson investigate the death of Sir Aubrey Poppin, appointed the Governor General of Jamaica only the day before and now found dead in a cask of Jamaican rum on the London docks.  Beevers, the manager of the Jamaican Rum company, clings to the idea that sir Aubrey's death was an accident, but his workers have their doubts.  Rather than call in Scotland Yard, Beevers decides to bring in you know who.

Holmes quickly determines the man was murdered and then dumped into the cask of rum.  A pin prick mark on his arm and the horrid rigor of the victim's face show that Holmes was correct.  A quick search of the docks turned up the murder weapon:  an "African thorn dipped in South American poison."

The dock workers refused to go back to work because of a curse put on Sir Aubrey by Big Juan, a thumbless voodoo master who had warned Sir Aubrey not to go to Jamaica.  "Scientifically minded as he was, Sherlock Holmes was too wise in the ways of coloured men to pooh-pooh such matters as curses, or to treat them as mere superstition."

And then there was the matter of the shipment slated for Jamaica -- empty rum casks.  Since it takes years to season a rum cask it makes sense to ship them back to Jamaica for re-use, but when Holmes tapped one of the supposed empty casks it did not ring hollow...

Then the Thames catches fire, trapping Holmes and Watson on a pier that was soon to be engulfed in flames.  And a body is discovered burning in the rum company's incinerator.  All in all, it's a sticky situation for Holmes but he and Watson follow the case through to its logical conclusion.

Issue #74 also contains an adaption of Doyle's "A Scandal in Bohemia," in which Holmes meets "the woman."

One final note.  the artist did not necessarily depict Holmes as Basil Rathbone, but Watson is a dead ringer for Nigel Bruce.


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