Compare ‘The Adventure of The Speckled Band’ and ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ referring to the structure, language and characterisation. In what ways are the stories typical of the detective story genre.

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Compare 'The Adventure of The Speckled Band' and 'Lamb to the Slaughter' referring to the structure, language and characterisation. In what ways are the stories typical of the detective story genre.

In this essay I am going to compare the two crime and detection stories 'The Adventure of The Speckled Band' and 'Lamb to the Slaughter'

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 'The Speckled Band' in 1892. It was widely admired as one of the best written and most exciting Sherlock Holmes stories. 'The Speckled Band' is about a middle class family where a murder is committed and Sherlock Holmes is called in to investigate it. He successfully solves the case and we find out that the step-dad kills the daughter who is just about to get married because once the daughter gets married the step-dad wont be able to claim any money from the mothers will.

Roald Dahl wrote 'Lamb to the Slaughter' in 1954. Roald Dahl specialised in writing short stories of the unexpected horror and surprise such as 'Kiss Kiss' in 1960. His children's books display a similar taste for the grotesque such as 'James and the Giant Peach' 1961 and 'Charlie and the Chocolate factory' 1964. . 'Lamb to the Slaughter' is about a woman who kills her husband with a leg of lamb and then when the police come to investigate the murder she cooks the leg and lamb and fools the police into eating it.

Both stories are Crime and Detection stories. Crime and Detection stories have been popular for many years. Perhaps this is because of a human fascination with crime, it is the desire to find this basic curiosity to discover 'whodunit', that makes us keep turning the pages and reading detective fiction. Usually the writer leaves a trail of clues for the reader to follow. If we are alert readers we can pick up the clues and solve the puzzle. However, things aren't always as they seem and we can find ourselves being distracted by misleading clues - 'red herrings' which is all part of the fun of reading detective fiction.

'The Speckled Band' opens with Watson, Holmes side-kick, looking through the files and cases that Holmes is solved. The mood is quite mysterious as Watson searches through "On glancing over my notes of seventy off cases...I find many tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange." This specific line makes the reader feel like they want to keep reading the book - to find out which case Watson is going to go into detail about. It also makes the reader feel quite sad that there are so many murders going on that they have to solve them. Watson searches through his notes until he finds the best one to set the story on. The opening does prepare the reader for what is about to come because as soon as the reader opens the book they know that they are dealing with a Crime and Detection story because of Watson going through all the cases.

'Lamb to the Slaughter' is quite calm at the start of the book because the husband had just come back from work and they are acting like a normal couple. The wife says "Hullo darling" and she takes his coat and hangs it in the closet, which is very calm and normal. I think it starts this way to make the reader want to read what is going to happen next, and to get the reader a little bit confused to they want to know what is going to happen. This start does not prepare the reader for what is about to happen in the book because as soon as the reader opens 'Lamb to the Slaughter' it could be any type of book with any type of genre by the way the couple are acting.

'The Speckled Band' is more appealing at the start because we know that Watson is going to talk us through a crime being committed, however, the start of 'Lamb to the Slaughter' seems a bit boring and you don't know if anything is going to happen. The start of 'Lamb to the Slaughter' is different from traditional detective stories because it doesn't give the impression that a crime is going to be committed, it just makes us think that the husband and wife are a normal family.

In both the stories a murder is committed, however, it is committed very differently in each story. In 'Lamb to the Slaughter' the woman kills the husband. We do not know the reason why because it does not say the exact reason, however we are lead to think that the husband tells the wife some distressing news, and the wife gets up set. We think this because the man says "This is going to shock you a bit I'm afraid" and it describes the woman "she sat very still through it all watching him in a kind of dazed horror as he moved further and further away from her with each word". The woman then gets very upset and angry by this news, goes to the kitchen and gets a leg of lamb from the freezer and kills the husband with it. This conveys the character as being quite strong and reacting to the husband's news in a harsh way. There are not many clues about the characters physical appearance and the murder didn't seem like it was planned and the wife just made a decision very quickly because the husband must have upset her when he told her the news. She seems quite a scary woman and one which can be violent. At the start of the book you wouldn't have thought she was capable of committing a crime, however, she succeeds with killing the husband and getting away with the murder. She is obviously a good actress because she managed to cover up her crime well. After she has committed the crime she goes to the grocers to get his dinner, gets back and pretends she found him dead. This is very sneaky and quite clever because she manages to trick everyone. We carry on reading 'Lamb to the Slaughter' when we know who the murderer is because we want to find out if she gets caught, and it is frustrating for the reader if they put the book down because they will never know if the gets caught.
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In 'The Speckled Band' we do not know how the murder is committed until the end of the book (whereas in 'Lamb to the Slaughter' it was committed at the beginning). The effect this has on the story is that the reader wants to carry on reading to find out who committed the murder and it makes the story a lot more interesting to try and guess. Sherlock Holmes explains how the murder has taken place and we find out that the step-dad kills the daughter. Dr. Grimesley Roylott kills Julia because she was about the get married ...

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