In his short story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", why does Arthur Conan Doyle show Sherlock Holmes making guesses about what happened?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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"The Adventure of the Speckled Band" by Arthur Conan Doyle is one of many stories Doyle wrote about his fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. These detective stories follow a fairly straightforward narrative trajectory. The main plots of the stories about Holmes usually begin with a new client or person in distress bringing a problem of some sort to Holmes' attention. Dr. Watson, chronicler of and foil for Holmes, normally indulges in a certain amount of speculation. Holmes himself usually offers some cryptic conjectures, thinks about the problem, and then begins research in earnest. The next stage is normally a visit to the site of the crime to confirm Holmes' ideas, and finally a dramatic scene in which the criminal is revealed and apprehended.

The main suspense in the stories does not just lie in the identity of the murderer but also in how Holmes will manage to figure out the means and identity of the criminal. As Doyle has Watson and Holmes speculate about the crime, we as readers pit our intellects against theirs, using their conjectures to try to piece together the crimes for ourselves. Holmes' conjectures often serve as a plot device know as a "red herring," a way to distract the reader from the actual suspect and maintain the suspense in the story. The main red herring in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" is the gypsy band, which has nothing to do with the actual speckled band responsible for the murder and attempted murder.

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