This is the fourth Sherlock Holmes book and the second Sherlock Holmes short story anthology. I tend to think that the short story format is the one which is best suited to the Sherlock Holmes series and this collection includes some of the very best. The book is especially noteworthy due to the fact that it introduces Mycroft Holmes and Professor Moriarty – two fascinating characters who are a huge part of the Holmes canon. Here are my reviews of each of the stories.
A classic story which sees Holmes and Watson heading out into the countryside to investigate a murder… and also a disappearing race horse. It’s a good, fun story with a clever resolution.
The Yellow Face
This is a very different story and one in which, as Watson explains at the start, Holmes does not successfully solve the case. In fact, Holmes and Watson don’t play a very active role in the events at all. A man named Mr. Munro comes to them after his wife has started to behave suspiciously. That’s all I’ll say, but I loved it. It’s one of the more progressive Holmes stories.
The Stockbroker’s Clerk
Interestingly, this is the second story in a row in which Holmes and Watson play a rather passive role in the events. It does however present a very unusual mystery (even if slightly similar to The Red Headed League) and it gives a nice insight into the lives of Holmes and Watson following the ending of The Sign of Four.
The Gloria Scott
This story gives us a rare glimpse of Holmes’ life before he met Watson. After a suspicious death in the modern day, Holmes recalls an adventure he shared with his old friend Victor Trevor during his college days. It’s quite a gripping one, but also an especially violent and grim one.
The Musgrave Ritual
Another story which gives us a glimpse at Holmes’s early life and, in fact, is mostly narrated by Holmes himself. This one is quite a mysterious story about an unusual ritual that the Musgrave family has passed down for generations. Its real meaning turns out to be very interesting, making this a story I enjoyed very much.
The Reigate Squire
Holmes is in poor health and so he and Watson head to the countryside so that he can get some rest. Of course, they soon find themselves caught up in yet another mystery, this one surrounding a murder at a nearby household. A fairly average Holmes story, but an enjoyable one all the same.
The Crooked Man
A story which revolves around the murder of a military man. Though this was another story in which Holmes and Watson’s involvement in the cause of events was rather minimal, I still thought it was an especially good one. The backstory behind the crime, which you find out as the story goes on, is really interesting.
The Resident Patient
Another story whose crime has a very interesting backstory. This time Holmes and Watson are approached by a doctor who found himself with his own practise under unusual circumstances, with a Russian nobleman as a patient and a very nervous upstairs neighbour. A really good one.
The Greek Interpreter
A fantastic story and one which introduces us to Sherlock’s older, smarter enigmatic brother, Mycroft. Holmes and Watson go to visit him in order to hear the account of a Greek interpreter, he tells them of a disturbing experience in which he had to translate for a man who had seemingly been kidnapped.
The Naval Treaty
Holmes and Watson become involved in an investigation into a missing naval treaty, which has seemingly been stolen. If leaked, there would be dire consequences on the international stage. Another terrific story – it’s nice to see the pair of them investigating something which such high stakes.
The Final Problem
Holmes has identified that a man named Professor Moriarty is at the heart of a vast interconnected web of organised crime and takes action to bring him down. Holmes and Watson must take flight in order to avoid his wrath – the price they pay to stop Moriarty will be high. This is, perhaps my favourite Sherlock Holmes story.
Overall, it’s a really solid collection of stories and one which I thoroughly recommend. Even if you haven’t read any Sherlock Holmes stories before, this could be a good place to start – you don’t really need any additional information going in and these are some of the best stories in the series.