I have a whole bunch of Sherlock Holmes collections in the queue coming up, so you’ve been warned. I’ve never yet made my way through the entire collection, but I’m now over halfway there! I do enjoy reading the series, even though there are certainly some stories that are a product of the biases and viewpoints of their time. While The Return of Sherlock Holmes isn’t the most groundbreaking of collections, it is certainly enjoyable.
As I’ve done before, I’ll discuss some of my favorites in the collection:
“The Adventure of the Empty House”: Sherlock Holmes explains his miraculous survival from the Reichenbach Falls misadventure to Watson, and notes that there is still some major unfinished business to solve. Colonel Sebastian Moran is one of Moriarty’s toadies, and he has murdered another man. It’s up for Holmes, Watson, and Scotland Yard to tighten Moriarty’s net a little more. This was a crucial story for Doyle, as it had to convincingly explain how Holmes survived (spoiler: it’s not the most convincing, but it shows the real impact fans had upon the series. Doyle was super done, but the fans would have NONE OF IT).
“The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist”: This is creepy, especially if you are a woman. Miss Violet Smith has taken a governess job that quickly turns sinister when she rebuffs unwelcome attentions from her boss. She notes that she has been followed on her bicycle on the way to the train station and seeks the help of Sherlock Holmes. I’m telling you, this story made me tighten my grip on my rings (my engagement ring has some sharp corners, let me tell you) and my keys. Doyle ratchets up the suspense here.
“The Adventure of the Priory School”: a ten-year-old lord has gone missing from his boarding school, as has one of the teachers. Sherlock and John do their best to figure out if their disappearances have been connected, and why anyone would steal a noble heir. It’s interesting when you figure out the kidnapping and ransoms.
All the stories in this collection are strong and intriguing. I think this showed that while Doyle was done writing, he certainly had some imagination left in the tank. That said, his disillusionment with the system certainly showed. Holmes fairly dances with subverting the legal system, and he demonstrates a much more cynical attitude towards British society. That said, this is still classic Holmes.