Sherlock Holmes on Failure

Sherlock Holmes on Failure


He spat a date pip into his hand.  “I have had failures before, but none quite so spectacular as the Rock of Abraham flying into the air.”

“You haven’t many failures.”

“Too many.”

“Such as?”

“This is a delightful conversational topic you’ve chosen, Russell. No, no; you wish to know my failures. Very well, let me think.  I have had at least four men come to me for help, only to be murdered before I could do a thing for them. Granted, I later solved the murders, but that hardly mitigates the fact that from my clients’ point of view, the cases were not precisely successful. Irene Adler beat me, although that was a silly enough case. And that one with the submarine boat plans, what did Watson call that tale of his? Scott something? Howard?”

“Bruce,” I said. “Partington. And that wasn’t a failure, you did retrieve the plans.”

“I might as well have burnt them, for all the good it did.”


—Sherlock Holmes to Mary Russell in Laurie R. King’s O Jerusalem (1999)


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