Home > Uncategorized > The butler didn’t do it…

The butler didn’t do it…

Reginald Musgrave ponders his ritual, by Sidney Paget in The Strand magazine: Sidney was hired to illustrate the Holmes stories after the Strand's publisher drunkenly mistook him for his more famous brother, Walter

I’m watching a load of enjoyable tosh about fictional detectives and crime thrillers on ITV3: The A to Z of Crime. It’s one of those mindless portmanteau compilation programmes, though slightly classier than the sort you get on Channel 4 – you do get the actual authors (well some of them, any rate), the stars who have played the detectives on screen and even the guy who came up with DNA profiling, rather than grade Z celebs you’ve never heard of who fronted some programme no-one watched on E4. The DNA guy made the interesting point that the first time DNA profiling was used, it actually proved the suspect innocent.

But don’t you hate it when something you know and love is breezily misrepresented in these sorts of shows? For instance, under “B” they had “The Butler Did It”. Fair enough; it’s a common enough cliché when it comes to ‘tec novels. But then some ignoramus pipes up and says the first case of TBDI was The Musgrave Ritual, the classic Sherlock Holmes story that must rank with The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Speckled Band as the very best of the Holmes oeuvre.

No, No and thrice No! The point of The Musgrave Ritual is not that the butler did it (though you think he may have): in fact the butler, Richard Brunton, is the victim. He’s the one who ends up dead under the flagstones, because it was The Maid Wot Done It.

As a long term Sherlockian, just wanted to get this off my chest.

“Whose was it?”

“He who has gone.”

“Who shall have it?”

“He who will come.”…

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