—“The Problem of Thor Bridge”
In today’s world, depictions of the investigation of crime (in books, film, and television) are dominated by the procedural, a genre that has met with much popular success. There is something captivating about the pursuit, in often microscopic detail, of the means, motive and opportunity for some gruesome act of nefarious intent. Perhaps the attraction lies in the juxtaposition of the criminal with the intellectual pursuits (through, say, forensic science, or technology) that ultimately uncover the culprit. While the Holmes canon is certainly exemplary in its deployment of scientific and forensic techniques well in advance of popular knowledge or widespread usage, no Holmes tale comes quite as close to the procedural label as “The Problem of Thor Bridge.”
The procedural formula would not find its modern form until 1945’s V as in Victim by Lawrence Arthur Goldstone under the pseudonym, Lawrence Treat. That novel’s duo of moody, intuitive detective and canny medical technician owes much to the Holmes and Watson of “Thor Bridge” and the constant questioning back-and-forth that propels them toward their deductions. Another singular feature, common to both the procedural and to “Thor Bridge” is that it is fairly narrow in scope as a homicide investigation, though it is precisely this convention that Conan Doyle wishes to undermine.