Who was Sherlock Holmes’ client in "The Red-Headed League?" What was his case?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the story, “The Red-Headed League,” Sherlock Holmes’ client is a man named Jabez Wilson.  He is about 60 years old and he runs a small pawn shop.  He is a bachelor and does not have much of a life outside of his business.  He is very overweight and not in great shape.

Wilson’s case is a very unusual one.  Normally, a person would engage Holmes’s services if they felt they were in danger or if they had been victim of a crime.  With Wilson, no harm has come to him.  Indeed, he has actually made a good sum of money for very little work at all.  However, the circumstances in which he has made the money are so odd that he has come to Holmes.

Wilson has recently hired an assistant in his pawn shop who is a very good worker and who has agreed to work for half price so he can learn the business.  The assistant, Vincent Spaulding, is a very good worker, but whenever possible he does tend to disappear into the shop’s basement (Wilson is not in shape to go down there much, if at all) to work in a dark room that he has set up.

Spaulding has pointed out an advertisement to Wilson.  The ad asks for red-headed men to come apply for a job that would pay them a decent amount of money for “purely nominal services.”  Since Wilson has very red hair, Spaulding suggests he should apply.  Wilson does, and gets the position.  He then “works” for eight weeks, copying from an encyclopedia a few hours a day during the slow time at his shop.  At the end of the eight weeks, the Red-Headed League (the organization that has been “employing” him) folds up and disappears without warning.  Wilson is curious about the whole matter and that is why he comes to hire Holmes.


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The Red-Headed League

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