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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe

The Haunted Grange Of Goresthorpe -  Arthur Conan Doyle

The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe is a previously unknown short story written by a young Arthur Conan Doyle, and was only discovered when Blackwood's archives were donated to The National Library of Scotland in 1942.

 

In 2000, the Arthur Conan Doyle Society received the necessary permissions to publish the story for the first time.  I found a copy of it in a used-book sales list and snapped it up because A. it's Doyle and B. it's a ghost story.

 

As with any kind of previously unknown story posthumously published, this slim volume has a preface, an introduction and an afterword.  But in this case, the result is so presumptuous it's hilarious.  We start with a reasonable 2 paragraph statement from the copyright holders and a 1.5 page preface by the Librarian of the National Library of Scotland.  This is followed by a 38 page introduction by the head of the Arthur Conan Doyle Society, broken into chapters.

 

Lots of introductions are long, although I've never actually seen one split into chapters before.  But here's the kicker:

 

The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe is only 9 pages long.

 

So we have an introduction that is fully 4 times longer than the story itself; to add insult to injury, Owen Dudley Edwards spends much of that 38 pages talking about how juvenile an effort this story is on Doyle's part (in fairness, he argues this is understandable, as it's believed to be his first effort).  

 

I realise I'm not a lettered, learned, literary expert (although I can alliterate with the best of 'em!), but I must respectfully (or not) disagree with Mr. Dudley Edwards:  I thought this was a ripping good ghost story!  Conan Doyle is an undisputed master of the short story form, and in 9 measly pages he sets the scene, the atmosphere, the backstory, the dare, and finally a delightfully hair-raising climax and ghostly encounters.  I didn't find the writing juvenile in any way; indeed the writing never got in the way of the story; unlike Dudley Edwards' attempts.

 

If you have the chance to read this, do.  Just skip the introduction, and enjoy the story; it may not be his best, but it's still better than most writers at their best.