The Locked Room Mystery

The locked room mystery is a sub-genre of detective fiction in which crimes are committed under seemingly impossible circumstances, often behind doors locked from inside with inaccessible entry.  The first novel of this kind is attributed to Edgar Allen Poe’s 1841 publication The Murders in the Rue Morgue, though there are notable sitings in ancient writings like the Old Testament narrative of Bel and the dragon in the extended Book of Daniel.

The Adventure of the Speckled Band is one of four of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries written in this sub-genre, and its murder occurs behind a door whose “key [was] turn[ed] in the lock” from within.

Julia Stoner, twin sister of Helen Stoner who approaches Holmes with the case of Julia’s mysterious death, met her demise from inside her locked bedroom.  Too, the window shutters had not a “slit through which a knife could be passed to raise the bar,” and its hinges were made of “solid iron, built firmly into the massive masonry.”  “No one could pass these shutters,” Holmes concludes.  Neither was their accessibility through the chimney, “barred up by four large staples,” nor through the uniformly solid walls.

That there was no human access into Miss Stoner’s room is clear to Holmes, thus he continues to examine other means of entry for other means of deadly means (keeping it equally as ambiguous throughout his search).   He discover

Discoveries: suspicious inter-room vents and a dummy bell-rope dangling beside a bed clamped to the floor.

Interesting . . .

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