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The Adventure of the Final Problem: Another…
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The Adventure of the Final Problem: Another Case for Sherlock Holmes (1893)

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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This story, set in 1891, introduces Holmes's greatest opponent, the criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty.
Holmes arrives at Dr. John Watson's residence one evening in a somewhat agitated state and with grazed and bleeding knuckles. He has apparently escaped three murder attempts that day after a visit from Professor Moriarty, who warned Holmes to withdraw from his pursuit of justice against him to avoid any regrettable outcome. First, just as he was turning a street corner, a cab suddenly rushed towards him and Holmes just managed to leap out of the way in time. Second, while Holmes was walking along the street, a brick fell from the roof of a house, just missing the detective. He then called the police to search the whole area but could not prove that it was anything other than an accident. Finally, on his way to Watson's house, he was attacked by a thug armed with a cosh. Holmes managed to overcome his assailant and handed him to the police but admitted that there was virtually no hope of proving that the man was in the employ of the criminal mastermind.
Holmes has been tracking Moriarty and his agents for months and is on the brink of snaring them all and delivering them to the dock. Moriarty is the criminal genius behind a highly organized and extremely secret criminal force and Holmes will consider it the crowning achievement of his career if only he can defeat Moriarty. Moriarty is out to thwart Holmes's plans and is well capable of doing so, for he is, as Holmes admits, the great detective's intellectual equal.
Holmes asks Watson to come to the continent with him, giving him unusual instructions designed to hide his tracks to Victoria station. Holmes is not quite sure where they will go; this seems rather odd to Watson. Holmes, certain that he has been followed to his friend's house, then makes off by climbing over the back wall in the garden. The next day Watson follows Holmes's instructions to the letter and finds himself waiting in the reserved first class coach for his friend, but only an elderly Italian priest is there. The cleric soon makes it apparent that he is Holmes in disguise.
As the train pulls out of Victoria, Holmes spots Moriarty on the platform, apparently trying to get someone to stop the train. Holmes is forced to take action as Moriarty has obviously tracked Watson, despite extraordinary precautions. He and Watson alight at Canterbury, making a change to their planned route. As they are waiting for another train to Newhaven a special one-coach train roars through Canterbury, as Holmes suspected it would. It contains Moriarty, who has hired the train in an effort to overtake Holmes. Holmes and Watson are forced to hide behind luggage.
Having made their way to Strasbourg via Brussels, the following Monday Holmes receives a message that most of Moriarty's gang have been arrested in England and recommends Watson return there now, as the detective will likely prove to be a very dangerous companion. Watson, however, decides to stay with his friend. Moriarty himself has slipped out of the grasp of the English police and is obviously with them on the continent.
Holmes and Watson's journey takes them to Switzerland where they stay at Meiringen. From there they fatefully decide to take a walk which will include a visit to Reichenbach Falls, a local natural wonder. Once there, a boy appears and hands Watson a note, saying that there is a sick Englishwoman back at the hotel who wants an English doctor. Holmes realises at once it is a hoax although he does not say so. Watson goes to see about the patient, leaving Holmes alone.
Upon returning to the Englischer Hof, Watson finds that the innkeeper has no knowledge of any sick Englishwoman. Realizing at last that he has been deceived, he rushes back to Reichenbach Falls but finds no one there, although he does see two sets of footprints going out onto the muddy dead end path with none returning. There is also a note from Holmes, explaining that he knew the report Watson was given to be a hoax and that he is about to fight Moriarty, who has graciously given him enough time to pen this last letter. Watson sees that towards the end of the path there are signs that a violent struggle has taken place and there are no returning footprints. It is all too clear Holmes and Moriarty have both fallen to their deaths down the gorge while locked in mortal combat. Heartbroken, Dr. Watson returns to England.
I recommend this book to all readers that appreciate a well written mystery story. ( )
  rmattos | Jan 23, 2016 |
I felt I wanted to re-read the classic story where Holmes meets his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty in final battle, to get the mental impressions of Michael Dibdin's The Last Sherlock Holmes Story out of my head. It comes up as dramatic as ever and is a brilliant short story. One can understand why Conan Doyle wanted his hero to go out with a bang and this story certainly delivers that, notwithstanding his being forced by public pressure and the cancellation of 20,000 Strand magazine subscriptions to bring him back a decade later. Moriarty is the very antithesis of Holmes (though he only appeared in two of the 60 stories) and it was fitting that he appear in what should have been the last story; the actual very final published Holmes story, the Adventure of Shoscombe Place, is on the other hand eminently forgettable. Great stuff. ( )
  john257hopper | Nov 3, 2013 |
Probably the quintessential Sherlock Holmes ( )
  aulsmith | Jun 14, 2013 |
I thought I knew the basic premise of this story when I started it, but it turns out I knew the whole thing. This incredibly slim volume is considered the final of only four novels in the Sherlock Holmes series. There are many additional short stories.

Written from Watson’s point-of-view we see an increasingly paranoid Sherlock taking extreme measures to escape his arch-nemesis Dr. Moriarty. The pair, one an unconventional, brilliant detective, the other a criminal mastermind are perfectly matched. Sherlock has finally found his intellectual equal; unfortunately they are pitted against one another. You can’t help but hear the admiration in Sherlock’s voice as he describes the villains’ evil empire.

Here’s a bit about Moriarty in Sherlock’s own words…

“He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in the center of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them. He does little himself. He only plans.”

BOTTOM LINE: A worthy conclusion to Sherlock’s story, I only wish it had been longer! I would still recommend The Sign of Four as the best place to start if you’re new to Sherlock. ( )
  bookworm12 | Sep 18, 2012 |
I was inspired to read this infamous Sherlock Holmes adventure after watching the BBC modern day rendition of "Sherlock", aired this past Sunday (1/15/2012). Although Sir Arthur Conan Doyle meant this to be the final adventure of Sherlock Holmes, I'm glad he left the plot shrouded in enough mystery to allow for the eventual resurrection of this brilliant detective with definite personality issues. Additionally, although I may have found Conan Doyle's portrayal of James Moriarty frustratingly enigmatic, in retrospect I am glad he only painted a vague picture of this criminal mastermind because it now leaves the character open for more in-depth interpretation...and I think Steven Moffat & Mark Gatiss created a brilliant Jim Moriarty in their series. ( )
  KindleKapers | Jan 17, 2012 |
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