Short summary - The Adventure of the Norwood Builder
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle
The young man is accused of killing a contractor who bequeathed to him all his property. Sherlock Holmes discovers that the contractor staged his death in order to avoid a debt prison.
An excited young man named McFerlane, a lawyer, is turning to Sherlock Holmes for help. Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Jonas Olddacher, a contractor from Norwood, an old acquaintance of his parents, whom they had not seen for many years, appeared in McFerlane’s office. Jonas Oldduckr wanted to make a will in which he left all his fortune to McFerlane. He has no family, and the young man’s parents were his friends, so now his property will go to a worthy man.
After the will was made, Oldducker said that he still has business papers at home, and McFerlane should come to him to look at them. Olducker asked not to tell his parents anything, so this would be a surprise to them. Despite the fact that the meeting was scheduled for nine o’clock, McFerlein arrived at half past nine. A woman, apparently a housekeeper, opened the door to him and led him into the dining room. After a modest dinner, Olddischer led McFerlane to the bedroom, where he pulled a lot of documents from an open safe.
Things were finished around twelve in the morning. The housekeeper was already asleep, and the owner did not wake her. He let the guest through the bedroom door. Before leaving, McFerlane could not find his cane, to which Oldducker replied that this was an occasion to come here again. Since it was too late to return home, McFerlane spent the night at the hotel, and in the morning found out that there was a fire at the house of Aldecra at night. The owner himself was nowhere to be found. The bed was not wrinkled, the safe was open, documents were scattered on the floor, there were signs of struggle and blood in the room, and charred bones were found at the scene of the fire. Having found McFerlein's cane, the police concludes that he is a killer. Only Sherlock Holmes can save a young man. Inspector Leystred arrests McFerlane in a house on Baker Street.
The great detective believes McFerlane and after Leistred leaves, he goes to the parents of the young man. Mrs. McFerlane says that Oldduck is a vicious and cunning monkey. In his youth, he looked after her, and she married a man of good and noble, although not so wealthy. Sherlock Holmes fails to find out anything more, and the detective goes to Norwood, to the house of Aldecra. Having examined the crime scene, Holmes does not find any traces of the presence of a third party. The housekeeper confirms that she let McFerlane into the house. She went to bed early and woke up screaming: "Fire!" Both the housekeeper and the firemen smelled of burnt meat.
There is nothing to help the unfortunate McFerlane, but the great detective draws attention to the fact that recently, Olddacre paid large sums to a certain Mr. Cornelius, and at this time he is simply poor. Holmes doesn't find any receipts from Mr. Cornelius.
In the morning, Leistred calls Holmes to Norwood. In the dark front, he solemnly shows the great detective a bloody fingerprint that matches the MacFerlane fingerprint. The inspector is already triumphing his victory, but Holmes notices that yesterday there was no spot. Has McFerlane really left prison in the middle of the night to make his way here and leave his tracks? Leystred is going to write a report on the completion of the case, and Holmes again examines the house. He asks to bring straw and water and leads Leystred to the second floor. There, through the wide corridor, are the doors of three empty bedrooms. Spreading straw on the floor, the great detective sets fire to it. The corridor is filled with caustic smoke, and those present at the command of Holmes shout: "Fire!" At the far end of the corridor, where the wall seems deaf to everyone, a door opens and Mr. Jonas Oldduck jumps out.
Leystred arrests the contractor and his housekeeper, who knew about the cache, and Holmes inspects his shelter, where there is everything necessary for life.
The great detective noticed that the upper corridor is longer than the lower one. Since Oldduck had been building houses all his life, Holmes suggested that there was a cache at the top. Seeing the imprint on the wall that had not been there before, the great detective realized that he had appeared at night. Parsing the papers, Oldduck slipped the young man an envelope, which he sealed, pressing the soft sealing wax with his thumb, and at night made a stain on the wall.
Recently, the affairs of Aldecra have been shaken. To deceive creditors, he wrote several large checks in the name of Cornelius, whom he himself was, and decided to stage his own death by setting a fire and throwing old clothes and several rabbits into the fire. After a while, Oldduck would have appeared somewhere under a different name. He decided to blame the crime on McFerlane to take revenge on his ex-bride.