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His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

His Last Bow (1917)

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Sherlock Holmes Collection (5)

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1,708276,368 (3.93)71



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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
(Three-and-a-half stars, really...)

Conan Doyle's penultimate collection of Holmes short stories really shows the central elements of his work so well: bracing atmospheres, a delightful central pairing, and an eye for acts of murderous legerdemain on the one hand; stilted dialogue, lack of suspects, and often one-dimensional characters on the other.

All of the stories here are very enjoyable, although I'd probably rank none of them on my list of "Top Ten". Wisteria Lodge, which opens the collection, is almost a novella and certainly has a lot in common - thematically and structurally - with the early novels. The Red Circle and Lady Frances Carfax also offer nothing new in terms of ideas. However, all three stories have an expertly-rendered atmosphere, and play well along the relationship of Holmes and Watson. The Devil's Foot does the same, although it has the added benefit of a truly unsettling mystery set-up. It's easy to see from these stories that, by this point, Conan Doyle knows his strengths lie in the Holmes/Watson pairing and the unsettling atmospheres, and he jumps at the chance to provide those.

As with all his works, the dialogue can sometimes be stilted. Not so much with the main characters, or the recurring police inspectors, but with the guest characters, who often lack strong voices (although I'm sure some fans will ascribe this to errors on Doctor Watson's part, and not on the author's?). And interestingly (or unfortunately?) most of the stories have very few suspects - indeed, sometimes we only seem to meet one person connected to the deceased in any detail, which may give the game away. In fact, the question tends to be not "whodunnit?" but "howdunnit?". But perhaps this is fair enough, since the overall emphasis is often on the implausibility or seeming incomprehensibility of the case, rather than the nature of the crime itself.

The Bruce-Partington Plans is an intriguing story, a fusion of spy and detective work which - although, again, means the revelation of the culprit is relatively unimportant - has a fun, pulpy sense of 'the chase'. It allows Holmes and Watson to work as a wonderful team, with a cameo by Holmes' evasive brother Mycroft. The Dying Detective's plot twists will fool no one, but if you've read all the rest of the stories to date, there's plenty to enjoy in a story that so feeds off the relationship of our two heroes.

And finally there is the title story, His Last Bow. I'm not sure if it was written genuinely as a finale, but it certainly is chronologically. This is a disappointment in some ways, since our heroes feature in it only for a short time. But there's a true sense of separation and loss at the end which affected me a little. Unfortunately, the story itself isn't very good: the dialogue is arch, the villain zero-dimensional, and the actions of our heroes at the end (especially given it is set just days before WWI breaks out) would probably not be advised by the Home Office.

In closing: this is not a collection for Holmes newcomers. But it's certainly a vital part of the canon, and well worth a look. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
Another collection of Holmes stories, in the vein of previous ones, with some addition of patriotic and spy elements, a nod to the coming war. The world has changed since the last collection - there are motorcars and submarines, and Holmes and Watson grow older and more famous. Fun and dependable as usual. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
2.5 stars ( )
  Kirstielee | Apr 16, 2018 |
A nice mystery. An older Sherlock reflects on the past. ( )
  nx74defiant | Oct 29, 2017 |
A good set of Sherlock stories by Doyle. Recommended to fans of mystery. ( )
  ktlavender | Jul 17, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sir Arthur Conan Doyleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Edwards, Owen DudleyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klinger, Leslie S.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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First words
The friends of Mr. Sherlock Holmes will be glad to learn that he is still alive and well, thought somewhat crippled by occasional attacks of rheumatism.
There's an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.
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Disambiguation notice
Conan Doyle used His Last Bow as the title of both a short story, and a collection of 8 short stories that included the story of the same title. This work is for the collection of 8 short stories; DO NOT combine it with the work that represents the individual short story.
Please do not combine it with other editions - the stories are taken from different volumes.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0755334434, Paperback)

About to spring out upon my appalled senses, lurked all that was vaguely horrible, all that was monstrous and inconceivably wicked in the universe'. A dense yellow fog descends upon London. Tricksters, thieves and murderers stalk their prey undetected. Lawlessness abounds but it is no match for the penetrating mind of Sherlock Holmes as he investigates the strangest of cases. A woman receives a gruesome package - two human ears in a box. A vital government secret is threatened with exposure. Miss Brenda Tregennis is found scared to death - could she really have died from fright alone? And when the stability of the country is threatend, Holmes' unrivalled talents are called upon once again ...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:50 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"In Sherlock Holmes' world, the tricksters, thieves and murderers who stalk their prey undetected use the strangest and most sinister weapons. A women receives a gruesome package - two human ears in a box. A vital government secret is threatened with exposure. And a Miss Brenda Tregennis is found literally scared to death - could she really have died from fright alone? Even in the gloom of a London gog, Holmes sees and observes everything... As the ageing Holmes seeks a quieter life, Watson celebrates his earlier triumphs in this stunning collection of stories. But when the stability of the country is threatened, Holmes' unrivalled talents are called upon once again..."--Book cover.… (more)

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Legacy Library: Arthur Conan Doyle

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Average: (3.93)
2 8
2.5 2
3 82
3.5 25
4 147
4.5 9
5 85

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Tantor Media

3 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400101697, 1400111323, 1400115205

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175668, 1909175560


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