* CONTAINS SPOILERS
In my introduction post for the Sherlock Holmes Reading Challenge, I declared this The Year of Sherlock Holmes for me because all year I have enjoyed reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books and watching some of the latest TV and movie adaptations. The fun continues with The Return of Sherlock Holmes and the timing couldn’t have better been since I recently watched the sinister Professor Moriarty and Holmes fall to their death in both Sherlock and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. The book picks up after this event when Holmes surfaces after long thought dead and much to the shock of his loyal companion, Dr. John Watson.
I was a little surprised to discover there were Sherlock Holmes stories that I hadn’t read or heard of, but the more I read The Return of Sherlock Holmes it became clear why. The stories in the book are probably not Doyle at his finest, most likely because he was under a lot of pressure to bring Holmes back from the dead and publish another set of stories. As a result, I found some of the plots weak and the resolution of the crimes unsatisfying. Don’t get me wrong, I often couldn’t put the book down. But I just as often felt underwhelmed by the big reveal of whoever was behind the crime.
If anything, what I enjoyed the most about this book was hearing Holmes explain how he survived the fall with Moriarty and why he stayed in hiding for so many years, learning about Holmes’ drug addiction as Watson refers to it in a couple of stories, and the squabbles about Watson’s publication of their adventures. In The Adventure of the Abbey Grange, Holmes says to Watson:
“I fancy that every one of his cases has found its way into your collection, and I must admit, Watson, that you have some power of selection, which atones for much which I deplore in your narratives. Your fatal habit of looking at everything from the point of view of a story instead of as a scientific exercise has ruined what might have been an instructive and even classical series of demonstrations. You slur over work of the utmost finesse and delicacy, in order to dwell upon sensational details which may excite, but cannot possibly instruct, the reader.”
“Why do you not write them yourself?” I said, with some bitterness.
Despite my criticism above, The Return of Sherlock Holmes is still an entertaining collection of stories to read. Holmes is still brilliant, funny and obnoxious. Watson is still loyal, observant and slightly clueless. As a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you can’t go wrong!
Best Story: The Adventure of the Second Stain because I really wanted to find out what happened to the darn letter.
Worst Story: The Adventure of the Abbey Grange because Holmes and Watson agree to stay quiet about the crime just because Holmes thinks the murderer and his love interest should be together! Um, what?