To the local police it is a formidable case and they are grateful for the razor brain of the great detective Holmes.
There are perpexing details – a weddign ring missing together with one dumb-bell, the odd behaviour of the widow and a card inscribed ‘VV 341’ lying by the faceless body. But Holmes can make sense of them all – even before he and Watson have the complete record of the terrible past when Bodymaster McGinty ruled in the Valley of Fear…
Excerpt from the book:
“Cecil Barker’s tall, loose-jointed figure was a familiar one in the main street of Birlstone village; for he was a frequent and welcome visitor at the Manor House. He was the more noticed as being the only friend of the past unknown life of Mr. Douglas who was ever seen in his new English surroundings. Barker was himself an undoubted Englishman; but by his remarks it was clear that he had first known Douglas in America and had there lived on intimate terms with him. He appeared to be a man of considerable wealth, and was reputed to be a bachelor.
In age he was rather younger than Douglas—forty-five at the most—a tall, straight, broad-chested fellow with a clean-shaved, prize- fighter face, thick, strong, black eyebrows, and a pair of masterful black eyes which might, even without the aid of his very capable hands, clear a way for him through a hostile crowd. He neither rode nor shot, but spent his days in wandering round the old village with his pipe in his mouth, or in driving with his host, or in his absence with his hostess, over the beautiful countryside.
“An easy-going, free-handed gentleman,” said Ames, the butler. “But, my word! I had rather not be the man that crossed him!”