Mutilations and psychoses are uncovered in the old country houses and suburban villas.
Many characters exist on the edge of deformity: a dwarflike creature with a bulbous head, a man with a curved back and convulsively twitching hands, a woman like a huge clumsy chicken.
Holmes has developed a particularly sharp response to physical oddity.
When Watson embarks on a rather imprecise visual catalogue of a murder suspect, he interrupts—
‘Left shoe wrinkled, right one smooth.’
‘I did not observe that.’
‘No, you wouldn’t. I spotted his artificial limb. But proceed.’
Holmes seems almost manic-depressive now. He slumps into near-despair: ‘We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A shadow . . .’
Gavin Lambert, The Dangerous Edge -- An Inquiry Into The Lives of Nine Masters Of Suspense, New York, Grossman Publishers, 1976
Stranger Cole and Gladstone Anderson: Seeing Is Knowing (Link)