Monday, June 30, 2014

Brad's summer reading list - #9 - ENGI - No longer two thumbs up.

The Engineers Thumb is one of my favorites.
Not because the case is all that great, after all, the only thing Holmes really did was figure out how far from town the house was. And even that required no extra energy from Holmes, because the fire proved to be the last pin needed on the map.
And if we really think about it, that is the only thing nearing a deduction that takes place in the whole story.
We had no parlor tricks as Holmes explains to Watson or Lestrade how such-and-such on a you-know-what, means that you-know-who did you-know-what.
There was not gathering of evidence or days of pursuing small leads.
The case is like Watson said, included for it's grotesque nature and not deductive puzzle.

Watson is not at Baker St. and is happily married to Mary, but Mary once again does not make an appearance and has no dialog.
He is doing well, and can afford a maid.
He keeps in contact with Holmes, but has his own life.
I love the fact that Holmes and Watson like bacon and eggs for breakfast. Well, we at least hope so, for that's what they got.
Mrs. Hudson is not mentioned, but we assume she is the one who cooked said breakfast.
The client seems to have a little more back bone than some we've seen.
And there are a few similarities to GREE. And HOUN as far as it goes with a woman trying to warn off one of our leads.

The thing I really like about ENGI is how there is so much other stuff you can investigate in the story.
And, as is important to me. . . . there is a beer connection.
And, almost as important, there is a personal connection to Queen Victoria, or at least her comfort, and it may even be argued, her privacy.

If you have followed this blog at all, you know finding a connection between Holmes and Watson and beer is important to me.

So, the case involves a young engineer who is hired to inspect an Hydraulic Machine, but comes to realize he has been lied to about the use for the machine.
And while trying to escape receives a grim wound. The reason Watson becomes involved, and then Sherlock.

But how you ask. . . "Does all this have to do with beer, Queen Victoria's comfort and privacy?"

Well, it all comes down to the reason young Mr. Hatherley became involved.
The hydraulic machine.

One of the founding fathers of Hydraulic Engineering and the Hydraulic Press was an Englishman named Joseph Bramah (1748-1814), a Yorkshire man.

Now, not being an engineer, I don't know if society could live without hydraulic machines or not.
But being a beer drinker, I know we can not live without the 'beer engine'.
It may be argued that the beer engine has done more (good or bad) for English society than the hydraulic press could ever do.
The beer engine is the device that allows beer to be drawn from it's cask and up and out to a glass. Joseph Bramah was important in the improvement of that device.
As if this man has not done enough to help in the creation of the Victorian world we love about Sherlock Holmes he does not rest on his laurels.

Nope. Just like the rest of us, he chooses to rest, at least from a period of time each day, on another part of his anatomy.
You see, Mr. Bramah was also an important mover in the world of toilets. He did not invent the flap that is now so common in commodes, but he did make it more common for his countrymen. No longer were our seats freezing in colder weather.
How, pray tell, does this involve the Queen?
Well, some of the water closets he helped develop were installed in the Queens estate at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. And they are still working to this day.
And if the Queen ever felt insecure about her privacy in the water closet she could have also installed a lock from Bramah's lock company.

What could be asked more of a man than to have helped in delivery of beer, relief from it's consumption and the possibility of privacy while doing so?

Like so many other cases of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, there are clues buried within.



  1. I think I have to agree with you there. My favorite stories are the ones that are deductive puzzles and we get to marvel at how smart Holmes is and, "Well, darn, if only I had thought to pick up on such-and-such clue..."

    Maybe Watson just writes these retrospectively after a long time and just forgets to put in important details, or maybe he's just as taken by the case as the reader would be.

    1. Yea, this one was more about the injury than the solution.