Summary: This book is the last of the collections of Sherlock stories, and it began with an intro by Sir Arthur, which I found more interesting than the first story. He said how Sherlock had been around way too long, and he felt depressed when some old guy came up to him and told him he loved reading the Sherlock stories when he was a kid. He hoped some other person would write about a detective more brilliant with a sidekick more stupid that would surpass him and he wished people recognized him for his serious work too.
Anyway, the story is about a guy who wants to keep his friend’s daughter from marrying a bad guy, and whoever this friend is, he’s really important and doesn’t want his name involved. The girl is brainwashed into loving this guy, and when Sherlock visits the man threatens him. A week later some guys beat Sherlock up. He’s hurt but not too badly, but he makes sure the press report that he’s on death’s door. Then he has Watson distract the bad guy while he sneaks in and steals the man’s love journal. The conquests listed are enough to convince the girl to dump him.
Sherlock Rating: 3 magnifying glasses–There really wasn’t a mystery, and the only way Sherlock was able to win was by stealing, so there wasn’t any real mystery to solve. Tricking Watson was the only thing that saved it.
Mystery Story Convention: The smart villain. The worst villains are always geniuses, but the good guys always seem to win in the end!
Summary: Some German spy is about to leave the country with secrets and he meets with his American (US) contact to exchange money/secrets, but the American turns out to be Sherlock–and old Sherlock, apparently, who has come out of retirement from watching bees just to catch this guy. And he does.
Sherlock Rating: 2 out of 5 magnifying glasses. Eh. It was okay. Predictable, and missing the investigation part of the story. It only really showed the “reveal” part where Sherlock comes out of his disguise and collars the guy, so there wasn’t any “mystery” to it, or excitement either.
Mystery Story Convention: The detective who had been in disguise/undercover and arrests the bad guy right when he thinks he’s going to get away with it.
Summary: Sherlock Holmes is in bad health, so the go on holiday to a gloomy moor. They are summoned by a clergyman and his lodger to look into a strange, tragic event at the lodger’s family’s home. After leaving them from playing cards, his two brothers and sister were found the next morning still at the card table; the girl was dead, as if scared to death, and the two men were sitting there were out of their senses, laughing and singing, but also looking scared. Then the lodger/brother turns up dead in the same manner a short time later. Sherlock discovers a strange powder that had been burnt at both scenes, and so he decides to test it out on himself and Watson. They descend into fear/madness until Watson saves Sherlock. Then Sherlock confronts this lion hunter/Dr. who had been about to go to Africa but had come back after learning about the first deaths. It is revealed that the lodger/brother had poisoned his siblings with this special devil’s foot stuff the lion hunter had brought back from Africa in order to get control of their family’s wealth. The lion hunter came back because he had been in love with the sister, so he took revenge on the murderer. Sherlock lets the lion hunter go, saying if he’d ever loved anyone he might have done the same (meaning, if Watson is ever killed, Sherlock will get ruthless vengeance)
Sherlock Rating: This one gets 5 magnifying glasses. The summary was so long because the details of this one were interesting, and it was even exciting when Sherlock almost killed himself and Watson.
Mystery Story Convention: I’ll call this a “Sherlock” convention because Sherlock, the scientist and experimenter couldn’t resist testing the poison himself, even though it had probably killed two others and sent two more to the loony bin. That’s so Sherlock.
Summary: A wandering woman has gone missing, and Sherlock sends Watson to investigate. He botches it of course, and his prime suspect turns out to be her lover who is extremely worried about her. Sherlock shows up to fix everything, having determined that she was abducted by a pair of con artists who prey on devout wealthy women. They were going to kill her and bury her with another, legitimately dead body, but Sherlock and Watson get there just in time, only kind of breaking laws to save her, but the cops don’t care because he’s the great Sherlock.
Sherlock Rating: 2.5 magnifying glasses. Maybe it was my state of mind, but I was bored through the whole thing. Their ideas about “wandering women” didn’t help.
Mystery Story Convention: The fake bad guy. Watson is convinced that the big ugly, savage looking guy is the bad guy, but it turns out he’s their ally. In a well-constructed mystery, the villain should never be the obvious guy.
Summary: Mrs. Hudson comes to Watson, begging him to come help Sherlock, who seems to be sick and dying. (Watson is still married in this one). He hurries over, and Sherlock won’t let him touch him or treat him (he tells Watson he’s not a good enough doctor) or even get a specialist. There is only one person he wants to see, an amateur disease studier (I know there’s a real word for this, I just can’t think of it right now), who is a specialist in this disease. So Watson follows his instructions and goes to get the guy, who is creepy and seems pleased that Sherlock is asking for him. Watson goes back first and Sherlock has him hide behind the bed. When the guy comes in, Sherlock gets him to confess/gloat about how he made Sherlock get sick and also killed some other guy Sherlock had been investigating. That’s when Sherlock jumps up. He wasn’t dying after all, just starving himself to look sick, and he didn’t want Watson to come close because he wanted him to believe him sick so he would convince the bad guy to come, and knew he would figure it out if he got a close look. (So he wasn’t insulting Watson’s doctor skills, just his acting skills). Oh, and then the police come in and arrest the guy.
Sherlock Rating: 5 magnifying glasses! I loved the sick-faking and Watson insulting, even though it was pretty easy to guess, especially since we know Sherlock lives. This episode also featured many hints at Sherlock/Watson love (for those who think it fun to imagine such things) like how Sherlock doesn’t like women, and how he appeals to Watson’s love for him to get him to do what he wants. So this one was definitely a winner!
Mystery Story Convention: This was easy to pick: It’s the “Bad Guy confesses everything in a gloat to a captured/supposed dying hero.” Bad guys, why do you do that? I guess they want acknowledgment for their work, just like an honest person would, and the victim is the only person supposedly safe to get that acknowledgement from.
Summary: Mycroft, who Sherlock creepily calls “Brother Mycroft,” returns with a case for Sherlock. Some stolen submarine plans had been found on the body of a government employee, but three critical ones were missing. Mycroft appeals to Sherlock’s patriotism to help him, for some reason, but Sherlock agrees because of the puzzle of it. After breaking into a suspected spy’s house, Sherlock finds what he needs to figure out the mystery. Another employee had stolen the papers and the dead one had followed him. They spy had killed him and fled, but Sherlock got both of them by setting a trap.
Sherlock Rating: 4.5 magnifying glasses. Was good. The only thing lowering the score for me was the stuff with the papers/politics (see next section)
Mystery Story Convention: I’m starting to get tired of these stolen government papers stories. Sherlock doesn’t care about politics or government papers, which I’m glad of. I just wish he’d stop taking cases about them.
Summary: If this were a cartoon, Sherlock would have gotten a package in a very large box, then climbed into the empty box and imagined an adventure–like the box is a crime scene he has to investigate. But it isn’t like that at all. A lady gets a box with 2 ears in it, and Sherlock determines that it was meant for her sister, who had recently lived with her. He quickly figured out that one was from their youngest sister and that the drunk husband most likely did it, which turned out to be true. Apparently the middle sister had driven the youngest sister to hate her husband and start to cheat on him, and he confessed to killing them in a jealous rage and sending the ears to the cause of the problem.
Sherlock Rating: 4 magnifying glasses. It was interesting, but dragged on a little long.
Mystery Story Convention: Mistaken identity due to close (sibling) relation. Detectives/Police seem to frequently get on the wrong track just because of something as simple and common as having a sibling.