There is no doubt that Conan Doyle's crime stories have set a precedent for this genre of literature. Each and every crime story that is written in the present day is compared to the stories of Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle was the first great writer of detective fiction; he was the writer that defined the ingredients of a good crime story. A good crime story must contain: suspense, twists, actions, a problem followed by a solution as well interesting characters. His stories portray each of these aspects perfectly which you can see in many of his crime stories, for example, The Red Headed League, The Adventures of Black Peter, The Speckled Band and many more.
The structures of Conan Doyle's stories are very similar they all have an exposition, a complication, a climax and a resolution. For instance The Speckled Bands exposition is when Helen Stoner asks Sherlock Holmes for help, 'Oh sir, do you not think you could help me?' The complication is when her sister is mysteriously killed, the climax is when they find out how her sister has been killed and the resolution is when Dr Roylott is killed. The effect of following a consistent structure in a series of short stories is that the stories have a more familiar feel towards them. For instance the more stories you read, the more you learn about the characters.
Because of this every story feels familiar and welcoming. The Red Headed League plot is very effective. This is due to the use of content, structure and reader involvement. For example, the structure of the story is set out very simply. It starts of in the present, has a flashback to the time when Jabez Wilson explains his situation to Sherlock Holmes and then it fast forwards back to the present. This structure makes the audience stay interested and involved in the plot because it is not complicated. The content of the play engages the reader because it is written in a simple and easy to understand fashion.
The characters in Sherlock Holmes add to the popularity of his stories this is because each character plays their own unique role. For instance Sherlock Holmes is portrayed as a helpful and kind inspector. ' For working as he did rather for the love of his art than the acquirement of wealth.' This quote tells us that he has chosen to work as a detective because he enjoys it and he genuinely wants to help other people rather than for the money. He is also described as having a 'quick-eye.' These traits of Sherlock Holmes draw the reader's towards him. Dr Watson also plays a vital part in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
He is portrayed as Holmes faithful sidekick. Each character plays an important role. For instance Conan Doyle presents the character of Dr Roylott as an arch villain to the reader. He is portrayed as a clever, cruel and cunning man. 'He has nerve and he has knowledge, this man strikes even deeper.' This quote gives us the impression that Dr Roylott is an educated man, who is also very cunning. Therefore it is hard to accuse him of any crimes because he is very good at covering his tracks. The description of Dr Roylotts appearance adds to our image of his personality. For instance ' He was a huge man…face…marked with every evil passion.' This quote gives us the impression that he is scary looking with a violent personality. It is an interesting notion that the villain becomes the victim in Black Peter. This is achieved because in the story Peter Carey is portrayed as the villain because he is a wife and child beater, as well as being an alcoholic. On the other hand at the end of the story we feel sympathy towards him because he is murdered.
Conan Doyle uses many different effects and techniques to make his stories unique. Weird and interesting ideas are used to hook the reader. For instance in the adventures of Black Peter, Sherlock Holmes makes a comment about stabbing pigs. ' You would have seen a dead pig swing from a hook in the ceiling, and a gentleman in his shirt sleeves furiously stabbing it with a weapon.' This quote makes us wonder what a man stabbing a pig has to do with the storyline, therefore compelling us to read the rest of the story. The historical background influences the story because if the story had been written in different era, then it would have been completely different. For instance in Sherlock Holmes stories the role of women has a big influence, however if the story had been written in the modern day then the role of women would have been completely different.
In all of his stories the author builds up to an action climax, by keeping the reader in suspense throughout the story, Conan Doyle successfully creates a sense of danger in the red headed league with his language and descriptive terms. For instance when Dr Watson says 'I felt that an evil time might be coming down upon those whom he had set himself to hunt down.' We are given the impression of upcoming danger and it also leaves us in suspense. 'Kindly put your revolver in your pocket,' this quote gives us evidence that there is upcoming danger, otherwise Sherlock Holmes would not have warned Dr Watson to bring his gun along unless he anticipated danger or violence.
'A considerable crime is in contemplation' this quote gives us evidence that there is danger lurking about; I think this because the word crime is usually associated with danger and violence. These quotes successfully help to produce a dangerous atmosphere in the red headed league. In my opinion, I think that the Conan Doyle crime stories are so popular because of the perfectly mixed combination of hooking storylines, clever solutions, bizarre idea's and reader involvement.