9 Really Quite Good Sherlock Holmes Stories

Welcome to today’s edition of The Definitive Ranking of Every Single Sherlock Holmes Story, covering #22-#30 in the rankings. Note that unless otherwise called out in advance, a story’s summary will not give away the ending; I am not a monster.

Finally! Actively good Sherlock Holmes stories! How exciting! This week includes stories that are both good mysteries and have something delightful or quirky about them. (I mean, as delightful and quirky as misogyny and murder can ever be which is… OK, not at all, this line of thought is getting away from me, moving on.)

The rankings here are honestly pretty irrelevant, it’s like a massive tie for 22nd place, but I started down this ranking path and I have to see it through. Which is all to say, these aren’t the best of the Canon, but they’re classics. Please read them.

30. The Boscombe Valley Mystery

First published 1891. Collected in Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Australians abound in the first proper murder mystery in the Holmes short story Canon. When James McCarthy is accused of killing his father, his neighbor Miss Alice Turner calls in Holmes to investigate for reasons that may have to do with her wanting to marry James McCarthy. Will Holmes be able to solve the mystery and one-up the police? (Yes.) Will Holmes get to talk about his monograph on cigar and cigarette ash? (Also yes.)

Of Note: The first short story appearance of Inspector Lestrade, one of Holmes’s longtime frenemies on the police force. Here is a fine example of what the two gentlemen think of each other: 

“We have got to the deductions and the interferences,” said Lestrade, winking at me. “I find it hard enough to tackle facts, Holmes, without flying away after theories and fancies.” 

“You are right,” said Holmes demurely; “you do find it very hard to tackle the facts.”

Reader’s Notes

This one is not the most exciting, but it has some solid, classic Holmes detective work. There’s cigar ash and footprints, two of Holmes’s favorite things. Holmes gets to do one of his favorite activities, which is measure footprints and neg the police for tromping around the crime scene, and Watson gets to do one of his favorite activities, which is describe a pretty girl. 

Read This Story If… You are intrigued by Australians or footprints or you want just a good solid little murder story that isn’t going to overwhelm you with excitement.

Drink Pairing: Foster’s, which is Australian for beer.

29. The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax

First published 1911. Collected in His Last Bow.

Summary

Holmes pontificates on “drifting and friendless” women and sends Watson to the continent to find one that has gone missing. Watson tracks Lady Frances Carfax through a variety of hotels, reporting facts to Holmes. The noble Watson even gets into an altercation with a suspicious, swarthy stranger, demanding the release of Lady Frances. But Holmes is more interested in a religious gentleman’s left ear than in Watson’s swarthy strangers, and that left ear may be the clue to the whole thing. The trail returns to London and Holmes negs every single detecting choice Watson has made. (Sometimes we ask ourselves why Watson remains his friend.) With the woman still missing and the criminals investing in coffins, the prospects look bad – will Holmes be able to figure out the solution in time to save the missing woman?

Notable Quote: This quote falls into the class of “I don’t know if it’s notable, but it certainly brings me great joy” – and you may recall that bringing me, personally, joy is what this whole ranking series is about. When Holmes sends Watson off to the continent instead of going himself, Holmes explains the action with the delightful, “On general principles it is best that I should not leave the country. Scotland Yard feels lonely without me, and it causes an unhealthy excitement among the criminal classes.” Modest as ever, our Holmes.

Reader’s Notes

A lot of things actually happens in this story, which is honestly a bit unusual, and the twist at the end is worthy of Agatha Christie. This doesn’t have the luscious background or vividly-drawn villains that many of the best Holmes stories have, but I definitely recommend it as a good little adventure.

Read This Story If… You too are drifting and friendless. 

Drink Pairing: A sparkling tonic water, for your health. You may add vodka if you wish to be extra-healthy. 

28. The Adventure of the Dancing Men

First published 1903. Collected in The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Mr. Hilton Cubitt brings a scrap of paper to Holmes which shows a series of childishly-drawn stick figures, innocuous except that the paper has scared the living bejeebus out of his wife. His wife is American, and he knows very little about her past except that there’s some secret lurking there she doesn’t wish to share and that he has agreed not to ask about. Instead he asks Sherlock Holmes. Holmes, who loves a cipher as much as any 10-year-old boy, dives in gleefully. He solves the puzzle, of course – but is he too late to prevent a tragedy?

Reader’s Notes

This one is very popular, apparently (Conan Doyle himself ranked it third on his own list of favorites), but I do not find ciphers as exciting as Sherlock Holmes does so the 3-page explanation of the dancing men in the middle really kind of drags things down. The mystery itself is fine, though I prefer the framing story of The Valley of Fear, which has a similar vibe. 

Read This Story If… You want to try solving a puzzle faster than the Great Detective (you have all the same clues he does!).

Drink Pairing: A southside fizz made with Al Capone’s gin.

a sketch of my favorite dance moves, or a very important clue

27. The Five Orange Pips

First published 1891. Collected in Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Elias Openshaw opens an envelope containing five orange pips (this is fancy old-timey speak for seeds); two months later he is dead, presumably of natural causes. His brother Joseph Openshaw inherits the estate and also receives an envelope containing five orange pips; less than a week later he is dead – presumably of natural causes. Joseph’s son John Openshaw inherits the estate and he too receives an envelope containing five orange pips. John is maybe the smartest of the Openshaws, because he immediately heads to Sherlock Holmes in the hopes that Holmes can untangle this dangerous family mystery. Will Holmes be able to solve the mystery before the killers strike again? And what does KKK even mean? (Spoiler: it means exactly what you think it does.)

This Aged Poorly: Black Americans are referred to with outdated language.

Reader’s Notes

In this story, Conan Doyle again shares his fascination with strange American cults and secret societies by bringing us a tale of the Ku Klux Klan. It’s a bit of a strange one to read now, because any (American, at least) reader will know the it at the heart of the mystery as soon as the initials appear; in 19th-century England, the KKK was not commonly known. Personally, I like the sense of horror and impending doom that Conan Doyle creates, and it’s an entertaining read even if there’s only 50% of a mystery and the resolution is, frankly, disappointing from a narrative standpoint. It is also interesting as one of Holmes’s few complete failures. (That is not a spoiler, Watson mentions it in the first paragraph. This next sentence is a spoiler, consider yourself forewarned.) Finally, I do like this story as a character study: when Holmes loses his client, his reaction is that of wounded pride, not sadness for the loss of life. 

Read This Story If… You like an overall “fuck the Ku Klux Klan” vibe and don’t care that much about the mystery part.

Drink Pairing: A mimosa, obviously, but take the pips out before serving.

26. The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist

First published 1904. Collected in The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Miss Violet Smith, whose womanly charms seem to have men throwing themselves at her, forces Holmes to listen to her story even though he is busy and cranky. Two friends of her rich uncle, Mr. Carruthers and the odious Mr. Woodley, have recently arrived from South Africa and she now teaches music to Mr. Carruthers’s young son. Every weekend, she bicycles from Carruthers’ house to the train station to visit her mother, and recently a mysterious stranger with a dark beard has started following her on her journey. Holmes, who is very busy and important, sends Watson to the country to look into these peculiar events and report back but then negs Watson’s investigative techniques. We can only hope that Holmes’s investigations are more fruitful and his misgivings about the situation do not indicate an impending tragedy.

Reader’s Notes

I like this one in retrospect more than when I’m actually reading it. There is the very strong visual of the cyclists, of course, and a beautiful moment when Violet Smith turns her bike around to charge at the man chasing her. But overall there isn’t much detecting – it’s just a little adventure story that Holmes happens to be on the periphery of. 

Read This Story If… You believe men are the actual worst and you delight when they are soundly punched and/or deservedly shot. 

Drink Pairing: A bicicletta, a drink made of Campari and white wine. It is apparently named for the elderly Italian men who drunkenly swerve around on their bicycles on their way home from their afternoon drinks, which I find delightful.

Violet Smith is not here for your nonsense.

25. The Adventure of the Naval Treaty

First published 1893. Collected in Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

A school friend of Watson’s named “Tadpole” Phelps, because of course he is, writes desperately hoping Watson can connect him to his illustrious detective friend. Phelps works in the Foreign Office, and the disappearance of vital government documents – and the implicit though not explicit blame laid at his feet – has so distressed him that he has been laid up with a brain-fever for nine weeks. Watson drags Holmes away from his chemical experiments and off to Woking to investigate. Phelps is in the care of his fiancée and her brother, recovering from his troubles, and he relates how the naval treaty was stolen from practically under his nose, from a veritable locked room. They first suspect the cleaning lady, but when she is proven innocent it is up to Holmes to discover the true culprit and save England from a diplomatic catastrophe.

This Aged Poorly: Reference to a red Indian. 

Reader’s Notes

As Holmes notes, the case suffers from having “too much evidence,” and that is evident in the wordcount: this is the longest of the Holmes short stories, but it doesn’t really need to be. It’s not padded, exactly, it just has a few more sidetracks than the usual story but not as many as one of the novels. 

We also get to meet another of the strong women that pepper the Canon, this time Miss Harrison, Phelps’s fiancée. Holmes recognizes from her penmanship (manlike, of course) that she has a strong character, and he trusts her with the vital task that will save her fiancé’s reputation. While not as well-known as Irene Adler or some of the Violets, Miss Harrison once again shows that Holmes will admit to admiring a woman if she proves herself worthy of admiration. (#notlikeothergirls)

Read This Story If… You like locked room mysteries and red herrings.

Drink Pairing: Prosecco and gin, to celebrate two great nations coming to a common agreement over what they think of the French.

24. The Adventure of the Reigate Squire

First published 1893. Collected in Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Sherlock Holmes is physically and mentally unwell, so Watson whisks him away to recuperate at a friend’s house in Surrey. But it may not be the peaceful diversion that Watson envisioned – there was recently a break-in nearby, and Watson struggles to keep Holmes from exerting himself to solve the crime. Unfortunately the next attempted burglary leads to murder, and there’s no keeping Holmes on the sidelines. While his illness hampers his abilities to a distressing degree, Holmes sets out on a case where he can show off his knowledge of both handwriting and melodrama. But when Holmes gets in over his head, Watson must run dashingly to his rescue. 

Reader’s Notes

I find this one interesting because it is really essential that you have read other Holmes stories before reading this one – the whole gag here is that Holmes is off his game, which is of course only notable if the reader knows what he looks like when he is on his game. It’s a solid little mystery, though the cast is not as interesting as some others. Holmes’s entertaining theatrics are what make this story gold. And Watson’s excessive care and concern for Holmes’s health and well-being (and his furious dash to save his life at the end) will be of interest to people who read these stories for the ~friendship~ and ~undertones~. 

Read This Story If… You were in your high school drama society and/or like a good bromance built on care and affection.

Drink Pairing: A nip of brandy, to settle your nerves.

23. The Adventure of the Resident Patient

First published 1893. Collected in Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Content Warning: A potential suicide (which is soon proven to be murder, but is described initially as a suicicide).

Summary

Holmes and Watson go for an evening walk because they have been trapped inside all day and need some air. (*laughs in 2021*) When they return, a doctor waits with a puzzling tale: a stranger named Blessington set him up with the money to start his career, in exchange for medical care and a cut of the profits. But Blessington has a secret, and two visiting Russians have sent him into a whirlwind of fear. Blessington refuses Holmes’s help, and the next day is found dead, a supposed suicide. But as Holmes investigates, it appears that all is not as it seems.

Reader’s Notes

I actually really like this one, though that may be partially because my first experience of the story had the exquisite Patrick Newell in the role of Blessington. It’s got a bizarre setup (who sponsors a young doctor for a cut of his profits?), a vivid central character, and a proper mystery. The mystery also gives Holmes another opportunity to pontificate on cigar ash, a favorite pastime.

Read This Story If… You like a good medical mystery but don’t actually care if the medical part makes sense.

Drink Pairing: A shot of non-Russian vodka or, if you’re a teetotaler like Dr. Trevelyan, a shot of ice cold water.

Patrick Newell as Blessington in Sherlock Holmes and Blessington’s No Good Very Bad Day.

22. The Adventure of the Priory School

First published 1904. Collected in Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

The exquisitely-named Dr. Thorneycroft Huxtable enters 221B Baker Street and faints on the hearth. He is the founder and principal of a school for the sons of England’s finest (richest) noblemen. Unfortunately, the Duke of Holdernesse’s son has been violently kidnapped right out of his school bedroom, and is missing with the school’s German teacher. The reward is enormous, and Holmes agrees to investigate. Will following bicycle and cow tracks leads Holmes to the solution?

This Aged Poorly: Usage of the common slur for Romani people, and the implication that they are criminals simply due to their being Romani.

Reader’s Notes

This has one of the most dramatic whodunit reveals in the Canon; it’s also just a pretty little mystery. For such a short tale it’s full of well-drawn characters, from the Duke to the Dr. Huxtable to the local innkeeper, Reuban Hayes, and it is good characterization that separates the ordinary Holmes stories from the excellent. And Holmes is given the opportunity to trek across a field and pontificate about bicycle treads, making him the happiest of boy detectives.

Read This Story If… You like a midnight bicycle chase and dislike the nobility. 

Drink Pairing: A nip of brandy and a glass of milk. 

~

And that’s it for this week!

Agree? Disagree? I am always game to talk about Sherlock Holmes, so please feel free to leave a comment below!

~

Join us next week for 11 Excellent Stories of Sherlock Holmes, The Great Detective! The entire series can be found here.

11 Perfectly Fine Sherlock Holmes Stories

Welcome to today’s edition of The Definitive Ranking of Every Single Sherlock Holmes Story, covering #31-#41 in the rankings. Note that unless otherwise called out in advance, a story’s summary will not give away the ending; I am not a monster.

So the stories covered this week are fine. Which, for Holmes, is pretty good! I do actually think you should read these, which I can’t say for all the stories from the past few weeks. 

Here we’re just missing that certain something that could make the stories great. Some have memorable or bizarre elements but a basic-ass storyline, some of them are solid mysteries but just aren’t magical. Nobody will forget the end of The Illustrious Client, but do you remember the beginning? The Second Stain has some excellent imagery, which is important to me, but the imagery is kind of incidental to an overall meh story that’s an echo of better, similar Holmes stories. I would even say that Shoscombe Old Place and The Retired Colourman are both very serviceable mysteries – but they don’t have that magic that makes them Holmes. And some of these stories would be better if they were a smidge less racist. 

So they aren’t top-tier. That’s fine. Everyone has a solid off-day. Even Serena Williams loses occasionally. (Serena Williams > Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for the record. The criteria here are very complicated.) 

I’m pretty sure some of the stories in this post are quite popular among ~true fans~ who will be horrified at how low they’re ranked. Oh well!

41. The Problem of Thor Bridge

First published 1922. Collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

As both a content warning and spoiler (sorry, there’s no other way to give the content warning), this story contains a suicide.

Summary

An American gold magnate’s wife has been killed, and the American gold magnate is very concerned with ensuring that the attractive family governess is not convicted of the crime. He comes to Holmes for help. Holmes does not like him very much, but gets him to admit that he loved the governess and hated his wife, and that his wife loved him and the governess did not, and with the preliminaries out of the way Holmes heads to Thor Place to investigate. It seems hopeless, but a bit of chipped stone may give Holmes the clue he needs.

This Aged Poorly: The murdered wife is Brazilian, and is therefore a fiery, impetuous woman – “tropical by birth and tropical by nature,” as one character says, a phrase that can be applied any number of Conan Doyle women from South or Central America. The phrase “the heat of the Amazon” is also used, and the general theme continues throughout the story. 

Reader’s Notes

I was today years old when I learned that Thor Bridge was based on a true story as reported by criminologist Dr. Gross. (Aside, I highly recommend the Leslie S. Klinger annotated version of the Holmes Canon.) Anyway, it’s a decent little tale, perhaps the best actual mystery of the final collection, marred by the racist caricature of an impetuous Brazilian.

Read This Story If… You like Agatha Christie-esque twists that aren’t entirely logical (I’m looking at you, Murder in Mesopotamia).

Drink Pairing: A Gold Rush.

40. The Adventure of the Crooked Man

First published 1893. Collected in Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Holmes appears on Watson’s doorstep at midnight because he is in the middle of a case and needs someone to talk to. The case in question concerns the murder of one Colonel Barclay, head of a famous Irish military regiment, who dies in a locked room after quarrelling with his beloved wife. The clues make no sense – the key to the room is missing, the footprints of a mysterious animal unknown to England are found outside, and the wife was overheard shouting “David,” a name that was not her husband’s. Can Holmes knit these clues together to track down the truth?

This Aged Poorly: Reference to “red-Indian” complexion, usage of the word “cripple” and unkind descriptions of the person in question, and reference to a “street Arab” (a class of people not actually of Arabian descent). Part of the backstory references the Indian Mutiny, including how a white man was tortured and enslaved by the Indians, and of course there is the general assumption that Britain was on the right side of that altercation. 

Reader’s Notes

This one is fine but not great. I actually find it a story better to watch than read, perhaps the Jeremy Brett version; following the story visually is more interesting than just listening to Holmes recite it, which is what 90% of the written version is. I think the main problem is that because it’s just Holmes telling most of the story, we don’t get the level of character richness that Conan Doyle is capable of.

Read This Story If… You like some military flair in your murders.

Drink Pairing: Indian tea, the comfort of an agitated woman.

39. His Last Bow

First published 1917. Collected in His Last Bow.

Summary

The Great War is nigh and Watson has deserted us for an omniscient third-person narrator who is given to dramatic scene-setting. On the eve of Britain officially declaring war, two German diplomats, Van Bork and Von Herling, are at Van Bork’s English estate musing on the British as a people. Von Herling leaves, and Van Bork settles in to wait for a traitorous Irish-American who is bringing him some stolen papers that Van Bork needs to collect before fleeing the country. Like all good Irish-Americans the man is chatty and a bit mouthy, but Van Bork gets a surprise when he opens the man’s parcel to find, not stolen government papers, but the Practical Handbook of Bee Culture.

Of Note: One of only two stories written in third-person. The voice is not jarringly different from Watson’s. Most interesting is the final exchange between the two old friends, with their country on the eve of war:

“There’s an east wind coming, Watson.”

“I think not, Holmes. It is very warm.”

“Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. 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, strong land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.”

Reader’s Notes

This is just a feel-good patriotic propaganda story. There’s no mystery, and honestly there’s very little story. This is not a favorite of mine, which I believe puts me in the minority, but then I don’t have that warm fuzzy patriotic feeling towards Great Britain as a whole. Many of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce films draw from this story in tone if not in plot, updated to World War II. I believe the film Voice of Terror is based pretty directly on His Last Bow, including Holmes’s patriotic final speech. 

Read This Story If… You believe in the Union Jack.

Drink Pairing: A sweet Tokay.

38. The Adventure of the Retired Colourman

First published 1926. Collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Mr. Amberly’s wife has run off with his chess partner and a fair amount of Amberly’s life savings. Holmes is busy so he sends Watson to track down clues, which Watson dutifully does, though of course not to Holmes’s exacting standards. Is this, as Holmes originally posits, “the old story, a treacherous friend and a fickle wife?” Or is there a deeper, darker mystery here?

Of Note: This appears as the final story in the final collection (Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes) but was actually the penultimate story published in the Strand magazine. (I think penultimate. Maybe the pen-penultimate. Anyway, not the last, that was Shoscombe Old Place.)

This Aged Poorly: A man is referred to as having “n—-rdly ways,” a phrase which, if you are not familiar with its usage during this time period, meant he is a tightwad and a miser. It is currently, for obvious reasons, not in use.

Reader’s Notes

A good solid little mystery, but a workhorse plot with no really colorful characters to vault it higher in the rankings. It is interesting how Holmes uses Watson in this case, hiding facts from him and then relying on his upright inability to lie or bluff to manage the suspect’s movements (see also: The Dying Detective). There is none so good and pure as John H. Watson, MD, and Holmes was not above taking advantage.

Read This Story If… You know that art is the real evil.  

Drink Pairing: A Gibson.

37. The Adventure of the Second Stain

First published 1904. Collected in The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

An important political document has been stolen out of the bedroom of Mr. Trelawney Hope, England’s Secretary for European Affairs. Holmes suspects that the disappearance is connected to a gruesome murder. The police, knowing nothing of the political angle, suspect the victim’s wife, but an oddity with the bloodstains on the carpet lead Holmes in a different direction.

This Aged Poorly: There is a woman “of Creole origin” whose temper and insanity may or may not be partially due to her heritage, and the word “Oriental” is used in a way that is no longer popular.

Reader’s Notes

A similar idea to the earlier adventure The Naval Treaty, but taken in a different direction. There are some solid elements but it’s not Holmes’s strongest outing. His detecting skills are not really on display here; most clues appear by happenstance. Lady Hilda, Trelawney Hope’s wife, is another of the strong-willed female characters that Holmes tangles with, though she falls apart a little bit at the end. She is not one for whom Holmes has a lot of sympathy, however. (For the Americans who may be wondering, she is a Lady even though her husband is not a Lord because her father is a Duke.) Some exquisite imagery bumps this up above some of the other stories in this group (you gotta love matching up bloodstains).

Read This Story If… You enjoy diplomatic intrigue and strong-willed ladies who do not care about diplomatic intrigue.

Drink Pairing: A gin and tonic, made with the eminently British Beefeater gin.

“Look, a clew!”

36. The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez

First published 1904. Collected in Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Young Stanley Hopkins, a promising young Scotland Yard Inspector (see also: The Adventure of Black Peter, below), comes to Holmes on a blustery November night with a case he can’t untangle. A young secretary of impeachable character, Mr. Willoughby Smith, has been murdered; in his hands are clutched a pair of pince-nez which were not his. Can this sliver of a clue, the gasping words of the dying man, and an excess of cigarette smoking lead Holmes to this puzzle’s solution?

Reader’s Notes

The puzzle part of this story – and how Holmes figures it out – is actually pretty cute, but the story doesn’t have any of the vivid characters or bizarre concept that would make it top-tier. I don’t not recommend it, it’s just a bit more of a workhorse and lacks heart, though it does (surprisingly) contain Russians.

Read This Story If… You are a student of Russian history. 

Drink Pairing: A shot of fine Russian vodka.

35. The Adventure of the Gloria Scott

First published 1893. Collected in Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

In this story, to the delight of fans everywhere, Holmes recounts his first ever case to Watson. When his college friend Victor Trevor’s father drops dead after receiving a mysterious note about hen pheasants, Holmes rushes to his aid. The source of evil seems clear, but what hold did old Mr. Trevor’s strange long-lost acquaintance have over the old man to cause him such fear? Holmes solves a ciphered letter so slowly that Harriet the Spy would have been ashamed of him, but it kind of doesn’t even matter because the dead man left a detailed and unhidden letter explaining every last detail of his life.

Of Note/Notable Quote: This is, per Holmes’s own telling, his first ever case and is remarkable for that if for nothing else. 

Reader’s Notes

The Holmes-solving-a-mystery part of this is completely mundane – the only real action Holmes takes is to decipher a coded message that isn’t important at all. However, the dead father’s explanatory letter at the end is actually a rather entertaining adventure story, which is the only thing that saves this tale from dropping lower in the ranks.

Read This Story If… You thought Titanic had too much romance and not enough vicious murders by ex-convicts.

Drink Pairing: Brown sherry. I don’t know what this is, but it probably tastes better if you’re at sea.

Gloria Scott also gives us one of the best Sidney Paget drawings of all time. The pure drama of it all.

34. The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place

First published 1927. Collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Something strange is in the air at Shoscombe Old Place, the home of Lady Beatrice Falder and her brother Sir Robert Norberton. The woman is acting strange, avoiding her favorite horse and drinking “like a fish,” and her brother has given away her favorite dog and dug up an old body in the family crypt. When a human femur is found in the home’s furnace, the worried head trainer at Shoscombe Old Place brings the strange case to Holmes. 

Of Note: The last Sherlock Holmes story Conan Doyle ever published. (And therefore the last Sherlock Holmes story that matters.)

This Aged Poorly: “In the hands of the Jews” is used multiple times to mean “in debt.” 

Reader’s Notes

If this were not a Sherlock Holmes story, it’d be a perfectly good addition to any Victorian anthology. It just lacks the spark that we want from Holmes. The lack of pizzaz as well as Holmes’s sympathetic treatment of the villain keep this one relatively low in the list, even though it is a successful mystery.

Read This Story If… You want to read a mystery and don’t really care if it’s a Sherlock Holmes story.

Drink Pairing: A nice warm whisky, preferably by the bottle. (This is a joke. Please do not drink an entire bottle of whisky, even if you’re an actor.)

33. The Adventure of Abbey Grange

First published 1904. Collected in Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Holmes drags Watson out of bed in the middle of the night and then negs his writing talents, which are not character traits that I personally look for in a friend. Together they rush off to Abbey Grange to investigate the murder of Sir Eustace Brackenstall and the alluring feminine charms of his Australian widow. Sir Eustace was a violent drunk and nobody seems heartbroken at his demise, which is believed to be the work of a well-known gang of thieves. Further investigation, however, convinces Holmes that all is not as it seems. 

Notable Quote: “The game is afoot,” Holmes declares at the beginning of this tale, a phrase ever after associated with the Great Detective.

This Aged Poorly: Use of the phrase “white man” to mean “honest.” 

Reader’s Notes

Holmes is oddly self-reflective in this one, noting earlier cases where he went off half-cocked, as it were, and maybe did more harm than good. Here, Holmes moves a bit more slowly and thoughtfully. He eventually takes the law into his own hands, nominating Watson as the British jury (“and I never met a man who was more eminently fitted to represent one”) and deciding on his own recognizance to let the killer go free. The victim, who in addition to physically abusing his wife also set fire to her dog, is not one to inspire sympathy, and I tend to side with Holmes on this one.

Read This Story If… You think some men had it coming, and only have themselves to blame.  

Drink Pairing: A vintage red wine.

32. The Adventure of Black Peter

First published 1904. Collected in Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Stanley Hopkins, an up-and-coming Yard inspector, brings Holmes in on a most mysterious case. An old sailor has been killed, a jolly man known throughout the neighborhood for doing things like “driv[ing] his wife and daughter out of doors in the middle of the night and flog[ging] them through the park until the whole village […] was roused by their screams.” We’re all #teammurderer in this one, but the police still have to do their job and figure out who ran the man through with a harpoon. 

Of Note: The first appearance of young Stanley Hopkins, one of the few members of the police force that Holmes ever expressed true admiration for (though not necessarily in this story). And this is neither here nor there, really, but in this tale Holmes uses the disguise of “Captain Basil,” 35 years before one Basil Rathbone disguised himself as Sherlock Holmes for a series of successful films. It means nothing, I just think it’s cute.

Reader’s Notes

It’s a solid little story. Conan Doyle packs a lot in – financial shenanigans, a despicable victim, clues that point to the wrong killer, and some peak Holmes nonsense (the story begins with Holmes harpooning a dead pig carcass for testing purposes). It doesn’t have quite as much ~flavor~ as some of the other stories, but it’s solid.

Read This Story If… You appreciate violent domestic abusers being run through with harpoons.

Drink Pairing: Rum, like a proper seaman.

31. The Adventure of the Illustrious Client

First published 1924. Collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Colonel Sir James Damery is famous in London society for “fixing problems” but now has a problem even he can’t fix – the pretty and innocent Violet de Merville has become obsessed with the villainous Baron Gruber and intends to marry him no matter how many horrible stories she hears of his past. Sir James hopes that Holmes can help extricate the beautiful young innocent before she becomes Baron Gruber’s second dead wife. Holmes enlists the help of the impeccably-named Shinwell Johnson, who produces one of the “fallen women” of Baron Gruber’s past, a Miss Kitty Winter. Holmes takes Miss Winter to see the icy Violet de Merville, but that interview ends poorly and two days later Holmes is almost murdered in the street by the Baron’s henchmen. The solution to their troubles, obviously, is for Watson to study Chinese pottery. 

This Aged Poorly: The description of Baron Gruber uses an outdated expression to refer to people of East Asian descent (which he is not, incidentally). 

Reader’s Notes

The ending of this story is unforgettable, as Kitty Winter takes her vengeance upon the man that wronged her. It’s dramatic, but troubling. Kitty Winter is very similar in temperament to Flora Miller from The Noble Bachelor; together, they give an unflattering picture of what Conan Doyle thinks of poor women who have been sexually ill-used by rich men. Holmes also makes a lot of sweeping generalizations about women generally, specifically how all women react the same way to their lovers being disparaged.

All that nonsense aside, it’s a good little story.

Read This Story If… You enjoy seeing abusive men get their comeuppance. 

Drink Pairing: A delicate Chinese tea. 

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And that’s it for this week!

Agree? Disagree? I am always game to talk about Sherlock Holmes, so please feel free to leave a comment below!

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Join us next week for 9 Really Quite Good Sherlock Holmes Stories! The entire series can be found here.

5 Sherlock Holmes Stories That Have a Hint of Magic, but Miss the Mark

Welcome to today’s edition of The Definitive Ranking of Every Single Sherlock Holmes Story, covering #42-#46 in the rankings. Note that unless otherwise called out in advance, a story’s summary will not give away the ending; I am not a monster.

The best Holmes stories have a bit of the weird, bizarre, or grotesque. In my opinion (welcome to my blog), Conan Doyle is at his best when he is combining mystery/adventure with bizarre/horror. 

Which makes this week’s stories all the more disappointing. There’s potential – they touch on the weird or unusual. There are vampires! How can the Sherlock Holmes/vampire crossover event be so low on my list? And yet these stories disappoint. They’re not much better than last week’s group, with a similar dullness of either plot or character, but there’s an undercurrent of oddity that makes them a little more Holmesian and therefore bumped them up in the rankings.

46. The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane

First published 1926. Collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Holmes is retired on the coast, raising bees, and responsible for telling his own tale. He is out for a walk with a neighbor when another neighbor, the science teacher McPherson, flings himself up from the beach gasping out his dying words: “The lion’s mane.” McPherson’s body looks like it has been flogged, and nobody can make heads or tails of the strange death – surely a murder? But who could have done such a thing? The man’s fiancée? The enemy-turned-friend-who-may-still-be-an-enemy? Holmes must find the answer before another death occurs. 

Of Note: One of only two stories narrated by Holmes himself.

Reader’s Notes

Strangely, Conan Doyle considered this one of his better stories, and would have included it in his own Top Ten list if that list had not been made prior to the story’s publication. In this judgement Conan Doyle was incorrect, as many writers are about their own work. It’s a nice little pastiche, and even a semi-clever little story if you like answers that make no sense and have nothing really to do with the clues, but overall it’s disappointing and you end it feeling like “I read all of these words for this?”

Read This Story If… Your sympathies have always been with the Sea Witch Ursula.

Drink Pairing: A Lion’s Tail.

45. The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger

First published 1927. Collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

Content Warning: Suicidal ideation, and Holmes uses what is probably unhelpful language in addressing the topic.

Summary

Mrs. Merrilow has a strange lodger, a veiled woman who cries out about murder in the night. This lodger, a Mrs. Ronder, agrees to see the great Sherlock Holmes so that her story can be heard before she dies. She is the widow of the circus master Mr. Ronder, who was mauled to death by a lion some years ago, an incident that left her face horribly disfigured. It is to tell this tale that she summons Holmes. 

This Aged Poorly: Fat-shaming language; this is less a thing that aged poorly, because I still see similar language in modern writing, and more just a note that it was gross then and it’s gross now and everyone should just cut it out. 

Reader’s Notes

This story definitely isn’t a mystery; it’s the confessional of a woman who is planning to die. Calling it an adventure is too strong – maybe a grotesque little pastiche? It’s fine, as far as it goes, but it’s not very interesting.

Read This Story If… Your favorite part of the Batman legend is when The Flying Graysons abruptly stop flying. 

Drink Pairing: A cotton candy margarita.

44. The Adventure of the Creeping Man

First published 1923. Collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

Spoiler alert for the story’s ending in the “this aged poorly” section, but no details are included on how Holmes gets there.

Summary

Why has Professor Presbury’s faithful dog suddenly tried to bite him? Why has Professor Presbury become sly and secretive and downright cranky? Why was he in Prague without telling his family? And what on earth is he doing crawling around the hallway at night, snarling at people? These are the questions that Presbury’s assistant (and soon-to-be son-in-law) brings to Sherlock Holmes, and the questions that bring Sherlock Holmes out to the college town of Camford. 

Notable Quote: “Come at once if convenient – if inconvenient come all the same,” Holmes says delightfully in a note to Watson.

This Aged Poorly: In a “this aged poorly” note that has a slightly different flavor than usual, the problem here is scientific rather than racist. The explanation for the professor’s strange behavior comes from an “elixir of life” that seems very questionable from what little I know of how science works. 

Reader’s Notes

This one holds a dear place in my heart because the Jeremy Brett version is the first Holmes story I ever remember seeing on screen – something about the grown man swinging through tree-tops with creepy lighting just stuck with me. That said, even the clouds of nostalgia force me to admit it’s not great. The setup is fine, but the explanation is eye-rolling, especially to a modern audience, and any mystery is only as good as its ending.

Read This Story If… You like to start your day with a smidge of pseudoscience.

Drink Pairing: Six gin and tonics, in honor of Mabel Jackson.

43. The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot

First published 1910. Collected in His Last Bow.

Summary

Holmes and Watson are in Cornwall (which Watson describes in excruciating detail) so that Holmes’s health can recuperate – and what is more restorative than a nice murder? Brenda Tregennis is dead and her two brothers raving and laughing at the table with her. Against Watson’s wishes, Holmes investigates this intriguing situation but there is an unfortunate lack of clues. When they return from brooding upon the moor about the unfortunate lack of clues, Holmes and Watson find in their rooms the local celebrity Dr. Leon Sterndale, one of the Great White Men known for killing lions in Africa. But even the great lion-killer cannot produce more clues, and it is not until a tragic second death that Holmes begins to see the light – but only after he poisons himself and Watson.

Notable Quote: A delicious exchange in this one: 

“How do you know that?” a suspect asks.

“I followed you,” says Holmes.

“I saw no one.”

“That is what you may expect to see when I follow you.”

Delightful!

This Aged Poorly: You will, I am sure, be shocked to find that the Great White Lion-Killer refers to Africans as “savages.” This story also contains one of those mysterious African poisons that writers of this era are so fond of – untraceable and producing horrifying effects. 

Reader’s Notes

Holmes calls this the “strangest case I ever handled” – he is wrong (that is a different series of rankings) but it certainly is grotesque. Like many of the latter-day Holmes stories, this one is a decent mystery with a tinge of the bizarre, but it lacks the spirit that marks the best ones from the early Canon.

There are a few items of note here, though: First, Watson definitively saves Holmes’s life (and his own) and for once Holmes shows proper humbleness towards his friend. You love to see it.

Second, in response to an outburst from a character, Holmes says “If the matter is beyond humanity, it is beyond me.” Conan Doyle was a noted spiritualist, very into seances and fairies and that sort of thing. I always find it interesting when Holmes dismisses the supernatural – yes, authors are not their characters, but I love how completely Conan Doyle prevented any hint of spiritualism from intruding on the Holmes Canon. It would be cheating the reader, and we can’t have that.

Read This Story If… You like moors and nightmares. 

Drink Pairing: Honestly it doesn’t matter as long as it involves a smoke machine. Smoke a Sprite if that’s your preference.

42. The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire

First published 1924. Collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

Summary

Some reputable lawyers send one of their clients to Holmes, considering vampires to be more in his line than theirs. Robert “Big Bob” Ferguson tells Holmes of a “friend” of his who married a Peruvian lady (Watson is too innocent to realize there is no friend, it’s just Ferguson, but Holmes is a sharper lad). This lady has inexplicably assaulted the man’s teenage son (by his first marriage) as well as their shared baby boy. Also she may be a vampire, and can Holmes possibly help? Holmes heads to Sussex, sure that there is nothing paranormal about the case, and his suspicions are quickly confirmed.

Notable Quotes: As a lover of vampire nonsense, this story has some delicious quotes that are probably not notable to scholars but which I greatly enjoy. Near the beginning: “The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply.” And near the end: “The idea of a vampire was to me absurd. Such things do not happen in criminal practice in England.”

This Aged Poorly: The elder son is a “cripple.” The Peruvian wife is obviously described as “fiery,” because what other phrase would you use? (This is sarcasm. Fiery Latin Americans were a problematic fave of writers of this era.) The accent given to the Peruvian servant is questionable at best.

Reader’s Notes

Vampires come to 221B Baker Street! The crossover I didn’t know I needed, though of course there is a practical solution. It’s a perfectly fine little tale, though one of the many that would not have made it to Holmes if husbands and wives would just fucking communicate with each other. Honestly, the entire family should go to therapy.

Read This Story If… You suspect Holmes is a descendent of Van Helsing.

Drink Pairing: A Bloody Mary. 

A striking family resemblance, no?

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And that’s it for this week!

Agree? Disagree? I am always game to talk about Sherlock Holmes, so please feel free to leave a comment below!

~

Join us next week for 11 Perfectly Fine Sherlock Holmes Stories! The entire series can be found here.

quick documentary review: Netflix’s Night Stalker

I am a very normal human, so I spent most of yesterday afternoon watching Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer, Netflix’s recent-ish documentary on Richard Ramirez. My partner deliberately left the room for the majority of the show, but ha ha joke’s on him we live in a one-bed in a quarantine and he couldn’t escape my recap.

I’m fun at parties.

If you’re blessedly unfamiliar with Ramirez, he was a rapist, murderer, and supposed Satanist who terrorized Los Angeles (and, to a lesser extent, San Francisco) in 1985. There was no rhyme or reason to his victims; most sexually-motivated serial killers have a “type,” but Ramirez was indiscriminate, raping children (boys and girls), young women, and mature women across ethnic and racial backgrounds. His killings were even more randomized. He was a truly horrible human being, and be forewarned that this documentary goes into detail and includes many crime scene photos.

For only being four episodes, I feel like there’s a lot to dissect in Night Stalker for people who simply enjoy dissecting documentaries. It’s good, overall. I enjoyed it, if “enjoy” is the right word for this genre of media. But there are complications.

Structurally, the narrative follows the two LA County Sheriff’s Office detectives assigned to the case, Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno, as they realize that the disparate crimes across the county are related. (Carrillo is presented as the bright young hotshot, whose initial diagnosis that this is a serial killer is laughed out of the room; Salerno is the grizzled cop superstar, the detective who apprehended the Hillside Strangler(s) in the 70s. It’s made for Hollywood, honestly.) Throughout the documentary, we only know as much as the police knew at any given point. We learn Ramirez’s name and see his photo at the same point in the story the police did. It’s good drama.

I like this structure. In similar documentaries, we often follow the killer, trying to understand them, or follow the killer in tandem with the team trying to track them down. We are usually presented with the murders and then see police looking for clues that will lead to a foregone conclusion. (I’m thinking specifically about Manson family documentaries, which usually skip from the murders to apprehension very quickly, glossing over the 4 months of confusion and panic and police work. We the audience know Manson did it, so it’s only natural the police will figure it out.) The filmmakers here did a great job retaining a sense of mystery, encouraging us to feel the same horror the victims did, the same horror the whole city did as this mysterious murderer stalked LA. The victim statements are expertly integrated.

However, I felt at times like I was watching an apology piece for Carrillo and Salerno. Here are all the things we did, they seem to say, all the pieces of evidence we were tracking down, here’s how close we were—and here is how the system fucked us over. Whether it was LAPD vs. Sheriff’s office jurisdictional infighting that prevented evidence from being processed in a timely fashion, or budgetary restrictions that pulled officers from a sting the day before Ramirez returned to that location, or San Francisco Mayor Diane Feinstein’s ill-timed press conference that gave away valuable evidence—according to the detectives, they were doing great work and were victims of circumstance. They could have caught Ramirez so much earlier if, if, if. But the documentary misses an opportunity and doesn’t really press them, just letting this narrative unfold. Maybe it’s all true, but it’s hard to trust a one-sided narrative that seems to have an agenda.

The documentary also doesn’t press on a really troubling piece of police brutality that a San Francisco officer describes. When they got as far as knowing that the Night Stalker was a man named Rick, the SFPD went to talk to one of Rick’s friends to try to get his full name. When this witness was in the police car, the officer hit him, supposedly lightly. He then pulled back and told the witness he’d hit him so hard he’d rip him apart from “his head to his ass” (paraphrasing) and the man immediately folds. This is presented as if it is supposed to be a high moment—yeah, we’ve got him! We got a name! Success! But like… a white cop threatened violence against a Hispanic man in his custody and I don’t really find that to be uplifting? And the documentary just glides on by.

Finally, while I learned a lot about the investigation (which is great! I loved that tactic!) I don’t quite feel like I learned enough about Ramirez. It quickly became clear that the documentary was going to follow the classic Sherlock Holmes novel structure of 1) investigation, 2) identify/catch the killer, 3) flashback to the killer’s history, 4) denouement/trial if applicable. It mostly stayed on that track, but 3) flashback was not robust enough to really tell me much about Ramirez. For example, how did he get into Satanism? Did he actually believe it? This was the heyday of the Satanic Panic, but the documentary doesn’t really explore him within that context. I absolutely appreciated the narrative structure and minimizing the focus on Ramirez, but we needed just a bit more than we got.

Overall, the documentary just felt very slightly out of balance. I would have loved a non-police expert to weigh in on what police procedure was like in the 80s, how normal it was for that much evidence to have been messed up. I would have loved to hear from an actual mental health expert, instead of just tapes of Ramirez talking about whether a killer like him was born or made.

But I did really enjoy this documentary, in a horrified kind of way, and I’m nitpicking about documentarian choices. (Meeee?) It’s good, and tells a jaw-dropping story from an unusual perspective, and I definitely recommend it.

5 Sherlock Holmes Stories That Aren’t Unreadable, Just Kind of Dull

Welcome to today’s edition of The Definitive Ranking of Every Single Sherlock Holmes Story, which covers #47-#51. Note that unless otherwise called out in advance, a story’s summary will not give away the ending; I am not a monster.

You know how you’ll get that grocery store California Roll sushi and it’s, like, definitely sushi-shaped, and definitely has all the right ingredients in more-or-less the right order, but it’s just a sad echo of real sushi? And you are kind of sad about your life, but you eat the sushi anyway because it’s 1am and it’s what you have, but eating it just makes you remember the last time you had good sushi? And you wish you had the good sushi? So you’re unsatisfied and unhappy? You know?

#47-51 in our ranking are like that. They’re not, like, awful. They’re readable. You’ll read them and go, “Yes, that was certainly a Sherlock Holmes story that I read.” But they aren’t great. There isn’t anything magical about them. So let’s get them out of the way quickly so we can move forward into next week, when the stories will still not be great, but they’ll at least have a spark of that weirdness that makes a Holmes story special.

51. The Adventure of the Stock-Broker’s Clerk

First published 1893. Collected in Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, 1894.

Content warning: attempted suicide.

Summary

Holmes collects Dr. Watson and dashes away with him to Birmingham to investigate the case of Mr. Hall Pycroft, a stock-broker’s clerk. Mr. Pycroft is befuddled by his new employers, a disconcertingly similar pair of brothers who poached him from another company and then sent him away from London to do grunt work. When Holmes and Watson arrive on the scene, Pycroft’s manager attempts to hang himself. Holmes must unravel a mystery with broader implications than just Pycroft’s paycheck.

This Aged Poorly: An old-timey pejorative word is used to refer to a Jewish person while stereotyping Jewish features. 

Reader’s Notes

This is a weaksauce version of The Adventure of the Red-Headed League, which preceded it by two years. It’s not a bad story, exactly, it’s just that Conan Doyle already wrote it once, better, and this version doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Overall just kind of dull.

Read This Story If… You’ve lost your copy of the The Adventure of the Red-Headed League

Drink Pairing: RC Cola, the lesser version of a better drink.

50. The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb

First published 1892. Collected in Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1892.

Summary

When Dr. Watson tends a patient whose thumb has been cleaved down to a bloody messy stub, he immediately takes him to see Sherlock Holmes. There, the hydraulic engineer tells them the fantastic tale of his night’s adventures and how he came to be running from a mysterious German with a large meat cleaver.

Reader’s Notes

This one starts with promise but there isn’t really a mystery, and nobody gets any comeuppance. The only literary achievement is some mildly spooky atmosphere.

Read This Story If… You want to be vaguely disappointed while desperately trying to discover an interesting story, somewhere.

Drink Pairing: Just take a shot of jager to numb the pain. (Of the story, I hope your thumb is OK.)

49. The Adventure of the Three Students

First published 1904. Collected in The Return of Sherlock Holmes, 1905.

Summary

In this low-stakes case, one of three students has cheated on a college exam and for some reason Holmes agrees to investigate. (I mean, the honor of the college is at stake, but honestly who cares?)

The dramz.

This Aged Poorly: One of the three suspects is Indian, which is excellent for showing both the diversity of Fake Oxford/Cambridge as well as the stereotypes of the time. Thankfully, Holmes is in better form than he was in The Three Gables, defending the character against Watson’s charge of “slyness.” Overall I would characterize the man’s treatment as “surprisingly not as bad as it could be,” which I realize is giving credit for sailing over a very low bar.

Reader’s Notes

A perfectly fine little puzzle, though a modern reader might immediately latch onto the least likely suspect as the inevitable culprit. It’s also one of the stories where the culprit, upon exposure, is like “well yes I was going to confess here’s the letter I wrote” so Holmes isn’t really necessary at all. Meh.

Read This Story If… You yearn for your college days.

Drink Pairing: A nice Greek wine.

48. The Adventure of the Red Circle

First published 1911. Collected in His Last Bow, 1917.

Summary

Mrs. Warren finds her new lodger a bit odd, and asks Holmes to figure out why. An odd lodger himself, Holmes at first shows little interest, but when Mrs. Warren’s husband is roughed up in the street Holmes’s interest is piqued and he sets out to investigate. He quickly discovers secret codes, Italian ruffians, and a lodger who is certainly not what they seem.

Of Note: The only story in which Holmes works with the famed American detective agency, the Pinkertons. (Though Detective Leverton seems to do very little.) 

This Aged Poorly: The Italians are very dramatic and are obviously all part of the Mafia.

Reader’s Notes

This one is fine – the concept of the mystery lodger has promise, but the unraveling of the mystery is a bit lackluster. Holmes’s presence isn’t really required to ensure that everything ends up OK, and any story where the hero doesn’t really need to be there should maybe be reexamined. The secret cipher sounds like one of the most tedious things ever, but honestly that aligns with what I think of most ciphers.

Read This Story If… You wish the Godfather movies had more Sherlock Holmes. 

Drink Pairing: A nice Italian wine, red like blood and drama. 

47. The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone

First published 1921. Collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, 1927.

Summary

Watson, currently living in his own quarters, gets the run-down from Billy the Page: Holmes is on the trail of the missing Crown diamond, “the hundred-thousand-pound burglary” which has brought the Prime Minister himself to 221B Baker Street. Holmes appears fresh from a nap to cheerfully declare that his life is in danger, but even he is surprised when the man he knows to have stolen the diamond sends in his card. Holmes sends Watson for the police and lays a trap for the evil-sounding Count Sylvius, using the magic of the modern gramophone and a dummy of himself.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself, Count Sylvius.

Of Note: One of only two stories written in third person, which makes sense both from a narrative standpoint and when you get to the next paragraph and learn that this is adapted from a stage play.

Reader’s Notes

This story appears late in the Canon and seems to pull elements from a few earlier stories (including The Empty House and The Naval Treaty). It is adapted from a stage play, The Crown Diamond, which may account for some of these references and definitely accounts for it taking place in a single room. It’s a perfectly fine little tale, though not exemplary. 

Read This Story If… You are academically interested in theatrical adaptations or you enjoy watching villains hoisted by their own petard. (I just had to look up how to spell petard.)

Drink Pairing: A French 75, a drink that is yellow like the Mazarin stone and not actually French, like the French Cardinal Mazarin.

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And that’s it for this week!

Agree? Disagree? I am always game to talk about Sherlock Holmes, so please feel free to leave a comment below!

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Join us next week for 5 Sherlock Holmes Stories That Have a Hint of Magic, but Miss the Mark! The entire series can be found here.