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The Valley of Fear is the fourth and final Sherlock Holmes novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is loosely based on the real-life exploits of the Molly Maguires and Pinkerton agent James McParland. The story was first published in the Strand Magazine between September 1914 and May 1915. The first book edition was copyrighted in 1914, published by George H. Doran Company in New York on 27 February 1915, and illustrated by Arthur I. Keller.
Holmes decodes a warning from Porlock, an informant against arch-criminal Moriarty, for "Douglas" resident five years at "Birlstone". Scotland Yard's MacDonald asks them to investigate a corpse with the same look and circle-in-triangle brand on the forearm as Birlstone owner Douglas. The head was blown off by an American-style sawed-off shotgun. Apparently, an intruder dropped a card with VV341, and left across a shallow moat. Watson observes the bereaved English wife and best male friend in unusually good spirits. When Holmes pretends the moat will be drained, the conspirators retrieve a missing dumb-bell weighting down the visitor's clothes beneath the water. Douglas comes from hiding, to explain he killed the assassin Baldwin in self-defence; the plan was to save him from more attacks by criminal survivors of Vermissa Valley. He hands Dr. Watson the following account.