Monday, February 25, 2013

His Last Bow: Review

His Last Bow (originally, Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes) is a collection of 7-8 Holmes tales, including the title story.  "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" appears in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes in British editions, but is added to the American edition of His Last Bow.  A story that deals with adultery, it was thought when Memoirs was published to be too risqué for the American public at the time. So, the story was held back and added later to His Last Bow. These are all quite good.  I thoroughly enjoyed the stories back in junior high school when I first read them and I enjoyed them just as much in this re-read.  Four stars--both then and now.

"The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge": Mr. Scott Eccles is invited to spend the night at the home of a Spanish gentleman he has just met.  During the night, the man and his servants disappear, leaving Eccles alone and baffled.  Eccles consults Holmes--only to find out that Garcia, the Spaniard, has been murdered. What was the purpose behind the invitation...and why was Garcia killed?

"The Adventure of the Cardboard Box": Miss Cushing, a maiden lady of fifty, is the recipient of a rather nasty little package...a cardboard box with a pair of human ears laid down in salt. Is it just a joke--in very poor taste--by her former boarders who were medical students? Or is there something more sinister afoot?

What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable. But what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which human reason is as far from an answer as ever. ~Holmes

"The Adventure of the Red Circle": Mrs. Warren has an odd lodger.  For five pounds a week (way more than the going price), he asks to taker her rooms--the money is hers if she will leave him completely alone.  Neither she nor her husband have set eyes on him for ten days and it has made her afraid.  And so she comes to Holmes with her story.  Her husband is abducted and Holmes helps track down a notorious member of the Italian underworld.

Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last. ~Holmes

"The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans": Sherlock's brother, Mycroft, makes an appearance in this story of murder and the lost plans to a secret submarine. Holmes must prove the guilt or innocence of a certain government clerk.

But that Mycroft should break out in this erratic fashion! A planet might as well leave its orbit. ~Holmes

We must fall back upon the old axiom that when all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. ~Holmes

"The Adventure of the Dying Detective": Holmes must go to death's door (his own) to bring a cold blooded killer to justice. It begins to look like even his friend Doctor Watson will be unable to save him from the mysterious illness that has overtaken him.

"The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax": As the title indicates, Lady Frances is missing.  Holmes sends Watson to Lausanne to investigate.  Watson is led to Germany where Lady Frances apparently met a couple by the name of Schlessinger as well as a large bearded man.  When Watson contacts Holmes to report, all Holmes wants to know is the shape of Schlessinger's left ear.

"The Adventure of the Devil's Foot": Or, as Holmes refers to it, "The Cornish Horror"--the strangest case he ever handled. Holmes is told by a Harley Street specialist that he must take a complete rest if he is to avoid a breakdown. He & Watson head to the Cornish coast where Holmes winds up investigating the murder of the sister of a man named Tresginnis and the madness of his brothers.

To let the brain work without sufficient material is like racing an engine. It racks itself to pieces. ~Holmes

"I followed you."(Holmes)
"I saw no one."(Dr. Sterndale)
"That is what you may expect to see when I follow you." (Holmes)

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