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Set in 1888, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are called down to Boscombe Valley (a fictitious place in Herefordshire) to investigate the death of Mr. Charles McCarthy. Lestrade, a detective from Scotland Yard whose meagre abilities are often upstaged by Holmes's brilliant deductions, has concluded without much ado that it is a murder, and that McCarthy's son James is the killer. James was seen by one witness following his father to the nearby pond, and another, a young girl, saw the two remonstrating with each other by the pond.
Holmes will not accept Lestrade's conclusions, however, as there are some facts that simply do not seem to fit. Whom was McCarthy going to the pond to meet? He had told his serving-man that he had to keep an appointment there, from which he never came back alive. How could the meeting have been with James when McCarthy believed that his son was in Bristol? Why did McCarthy use the call "Cooee!", which his son is used to using? Why did he get angry with James? Why won't James reveal the exact nature of the conversation when his silence might well put his neck in a noose? How did a piece of clothing a few yards from James and his dying father vanish without a trace while James was right there? What did McCarthy's dying words about "a rat" mean? Who could have wanted McCarthy dead, if not James, and why? Is Miss Turner, who wants to marry James, somehow tied into all this?
Holmes employs his usual keen powers to unravel this tangle of questions, and once again, he puts Lestrade to shame. Young James is left in gaol by the time the story ends, and may not even be spared a referral to the next assizes, but Sherlock Holmes has arranged for Her Majesty's case against the young man to fall apart if it seems likely that a court will send him to the gallows. This arrangement comes with the true killer's compliments.資料來源： wikipedia