The detectives in both texts are very different. In TSB Sherlock Holmes is very professional and a private investigator who is very displeased at being associated with “the official detective force.” The detectives in LTTS present a more unprofessional side of law enforcement. They are presented with all of the clues needed to fully solve the case but do not piece them together. We can tell from an early stage that the detectives in LTTS are never meant to solve the case. All of the detectives are persuaded to take a “nip of whisky”, very unprofessional. They are also persuaded to eat something from the scene of a murder, also very unprofessional. Leaving the crime Scene sterile is of vital importance.
The language in both pieces is very different to from each other. TSB uses archaic language but Roald Dahl uses language very much more up to date and understandable to an audience 50 years later. Many of the words or phrases in TSB have either been abandoned or changed meaning. We no longer rise ourselves from a “reverie” as in TSB. Today “knocking somebody up” means getting somebody pregnant, not messing somebody about as it meant in1892. The tone of TSB is serious and requires considerable attention to struggle through the archaic language and the seriousness. LTTS on the other hand is not light and humorous but more so. It has a certain amount of black or macabre humour. It is quite amusing how she kills her husband and gets away with it but we have to realise that this is black humour.
The narrative style of both of the pieces is well worth a mention. Roald Dahl’s LTTS is written in the third person and we are treated to a fly on the wall experience. In TSB Dr Watson is used to narrate the story in the first person. There is little narrative work to be done apart from descriptions of characters and surroundings as a lot of the story is told through the conversations between characters. In TSB Dr Watson’s first person is rarely used apart from in the introduction and at the end of the text.
LTTS ending is very important to the piece. The fact that she laughed is a twist that will have completely changed our perceptions of her up to that point. We realise that she is a nasty piece of work underneath her apparent soft motherly outside. It made me realise that maybe this wasn’t a single, rash, and once of a lifetime attack. Her laugh made it entirely believable to me that she could kill again. The ending of TSB was dominated by the explanation of Sherlock Holmes. The ending before the end note is dominated by the death of Dr Roylott and the dishing out of a crude form of justice.
The two texts have many similarities and differences and after studying them in the detail that I have it is only natural to have a favourite. My favourite is LTTS because it is more in touch with today’s culture and language. The language requires no heavy concentration to make sense of it. It is lighter and more humorous. There is more in the way of twists and the characters a deeper and do things more unexpected. For example, the detectives, the good people in most people’s books and the solvers of all crimes in most murder mysteries fail to solve the crime in LTTS. Most of the time in LTTS we feel sympathy for the heavily pregnant murderer who has just been left by the husband even if we do understand Mary Maloney’s paranoia.