Monday, August 27, 2007

Holiday read: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

And so we come to the end and you can sense the upset that original readers must have felt when they realised Holmes had gone forever. The end is left to Watson to deduce and describe with the footprints and scuffle in the mud on the edge of the waterfall all that remains to indicate what happened between Holmes and Moriarty. But before then there are a couple of stories to enjoy.

Highlights from The Greek Interpreter
A Greek specialising in helping the courts and businesses translate Greek is taken by cab to translate for a man whose face is covered in plasters. By asking some additional questions the translator discovers that the man is being held against his will and is being starved until he signs some papers agreeing to handing over his sister's estate to a man who has had a whirlwind romance with her. He refuses to sign and the translator makes the mistake of telling the police and Holmes, who is introduced to the case by his brother Mycroft, and the criminals take him hostage. Holmes tracks them down and manages to find him in a room with the man with a plaster covered face but it is too late for him and the interpreter only just manages to survive. Months later in the paper there is a report of two Englishmen killed while in the Balkans and Holmes surmises that the woman finally got her revenge.

Highlights from The Naval Treaty
A Home Office official given the responsibility of copying a very contentious document finds it stolen as he leaves his room to get some coffee and falls into a brain fever for ten weeks. Holmes is his final resource to try and clear his name but as he waits for the great detective seems to make the waters murkier. The diplomat is attacked at his fiance's house and Holmes gets him away to London while he waits for the attacker to make his next move. It turns out to be the diplomatist's future brother-in-law who has some debts who has taken the treaty and hidden it in the floorboards of his room, which was used for all the weeks by the sick man who needed a place to recover.

Highlights from The Final Problem
Watson starts the story by explaining that following some letters published by Moriarty's brother he wants to set the record straight. He tells the story of how Holmes had realised that most criminal activity in London was being masterminded by Professor Moriarty, a former maths teacher, who he had now tracked down and got into a position where he could smash the ring. The only problem was that he needed more time and so was being chased by his arch enemy, who intended to kill him. He goes away with Watson to the continent and while he is away the news comes through the Moriarty's criminal ring has been smashed but the leader has escaped and is pursuing Holmes.

The end comes in Meiringen (which I managed to visit a couple of days ago) by the Reichenbach falls. Watson is called back to the hotel on some medical emergency but no sooner has he got there than he discovers it is a ruse and rushes back up the mountain to find footprints leading to the edge of the abyss and a note from Holmes explaining that his career will end on a high by removing Moriarty. No sign of the bodies are ever found and Watson ends by declaring that he has written his account to clear the name of the man "I shall regard as the best and the wisest man I have ever known".

Fantastic stuff and a review will follow probably early next week when my holiday is over...

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