Ever since I was a boy, I have read the Holmes stories, enthralled by them. Critics have long tried to determine the source of their hold on the popular imagination. Some have argued that it is because of the spell of their logic, or the dialogue between Holmes and Watson, or the Victorian mood they evoke. But for me it was simply the thrill of the chase-that the game was indeed afoot, as Holmes always put it with delight.
When I started this story, I inevitably found myself approaching it in the same fashion. Here at last, I thought, was a mystery worthy of Holmes. And initially as I went about my reporting, piecing together each clue, I could feel that same sense of wonder I had as a boy when, say, I discovered, in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," that the suspect had killed his stepdaughter with "the deadliest snake in India." But the more I spoke with Richard Lancelyn Green's family and friends, the more I was reminded of another sensation, one that rarely intrudes in the Sherlockian game: grief. Indeed, by the end it occurred to me that I had never been investigating a mystery, but a tragedy.