Reading Sherlock Holmes – The Final Problem

Re-reading the original Sherlock Holmes stories. This is the big one, people. We meet Professor Moriarty, and we say goodbye (sort of) to Holmes in The Final Problem.


Facts of the case: Two years have passed, and Watson has barely seen Holmes. Holmes shows up one night and reveals he has been pursuing Professor Moriarty, whom he believes has his fingers in most of London’s major crimes. Moriarty, feeling the heat, met with Holmes and said that if Holmes takes him down, then Holmes’ destruction will be inevitable. Holmes then finds himself under attack by Moriarty’s men. Holmes and Watson escape London and flee to Switzerland. There, Moriarty tracks them down for the final battle atop Reichenbach Falls.


Great detective: Holmes remains proud that he never once used his powers of deduction for evil. He states the importance of friendship with Watson several times. His powers of disguise come in handy when escaping London.

Good doctor: Watson is given several opportunities to stay behind, because it’s too dangerous to hang out with Holmes during all this, but he sticks with Holmes until (almost) the end.


Who’s at the door: It’s Moriarty! We’re told that he’s behind approximately half the crimes in London, with forgery, robbery, and murder mentioned specifically. He’s called “professor” because he’s a former professor of mathematics. He also has some army experience.

Holmes employs a “broughman,” described as a large man in a black cloak, to sneak Watson through the streets of London. It’s later revealed that this is Holmes’ brother Mycroft in disguise.

Action hero: Holmes fights his way through a series of attacks from Moriarty’s henchmen, showing up at Watson’s door with bloodied knuckles. He and Watson reach the train out of the city mere seconds before Moriarty catches up to them.

Yes this is canon: In their pursuit of Holmes, Moriarty’s men actually burn down 221B Baker St.! No word on the fate of Mrs. Hudson and all those pageboys.


Indubitably: Instead of a mystery to solve, this one is all about the chase — and what a chase! Doyle shows his mastery of craft, first in the evocative description of Moriarty’s evil, and then in the you-are-there description of Switzerland. Doyle allegedly intended this to be the last-ever Holmes story, but after this it’s easy to see why the fans demanded more.

Next week: You ain’t nothing but a hound dog.


Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. cine-high_v3

About Mac McEntire

Author of CINE HIGH.
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