The Lost Special

"The Lost Special"
Author Arthur Conan Doyle
Country  United Kingdom
Language English
Series Sherlock Holmes (implied)
Publication date 1898

"The Lost Special" is a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle first published as part of the Round the Fire series in The Strand Magazine of August 1898. It is implied to be a Sherlock Holmes story, though his name is not used. The story's narrative mode is third person, subjective, though the narrator is not identified.


This story concerns the baffling disappearance of a privately hired train (a special) on its journey from Liverpool to London on 3 June 1890; besides the train crew of driver, fireman, and train guard the only passengers are two South Americans. The train is confirmed to have passed Kenyon Junction but never have reached Barton Moss. The only clues are the dead body of the engineer found among the train tracks past Kenyon Junction and a letter from the United States that purports to come from one of the missing train crewmen. Authorities fail to discover any traces of the train. A letter to The Times by "an amateur reasoner of some celebrity at that date" is excerpted at one point, the style of which suggests that the author is probably Sherlock Holmes. This "recognized authority upon such matters" suggests that the train and its passengers are destroyed by a criminal organization comparable to Camorra, by first directing into one of the unused tracks of abandoned mines that lay nearby. The proposition meets with heated opposition, although the objectors fail to supply any conceivable alternative. Nevertheless, the responsible authorities do not act on the proposal and the public never shows any interest as a political scandal has already attracted their attention. Eight years later, a criminal mastermind called Herbert de Lernac, scheduled for execution in Marseilles, confesses to the crime, revealing details that are only slightly different from what the amateur sleuth proposed. Herbert suppresses the names of his employers in this confession, but threatens to reveal their names if he is not granted a pardon.

Another fictional railway mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle "The Story of the Man with the Watches" is an 1892 locked room mystery in which an unknown man is found in a railway compartment with six watches; an unnamed criminal investigator theorizes a solution to the mystery [1]



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