His Last Bow has a few gems, a few OK stories and a couple of 'I'll take your breath away' stories.
It's got a total of 8 stories - all the other Sherlock Holmes story books have 12 or 13...
...So it's short - the shortest of Conan Doyle's story collections.
It's also got stories with some really perplexing names - there's the Adventure of the Devil's Foot for instance. Devil's foot? That's jittery ;-)
Then there is The Adventure of the Dying Detective. Again - quite mysterious - who's the detective who's dying here?
So yes, not every story in His Last Bow is excellent - but it's a nice collection.
We'll talk about all the stories in detail - but first - let's take a peek at some fascinating facts about His Last Bow.
Let's look at the vital stats of His Last Bow.
How many words does His Last Bow have? How many stories does it have? On what date was it first published? Take a peek!
His Last Bow Was the First Conan Doyle Book that Had Stories Collected Over 25 Years...
Till His Last Bow was published, all Sherlock Holmes stories were collections of stories published regularly for 12-13 months in the Strand Magazine.
So, for example: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was a collection of stories published in the Strand Magazine from July 1891 to June 1892 - month after month.
His Last Bow was the first assorted collection of stories.
It has a story first published in 1892 - another one published in 1908, one from 1917 - it's the first 'mixed bag of Holmes stories' kind of collection.
The Original Edition of His Last Bow Costs Around $80, 000 Today!
Just out of curiosity I checked up the price of the original edition of His Last Bow - the 1917 edition. Now, I imagined the price to be around $10000 maybe - you know...
How much would anyone pay for a book?
It turned out to be $81000 on Abe Books as on March 1, 2014! I think that's really whopping. Worth a mention, eh?
Sherlock Holmes' client is Mr Scott Eccles in this story.
Now this Mr Eccles has had what Sherlock Holmes would call - a singular experience.
He'd been invited for a weekend by a new friend - Mr Garcia. When Scott Eccles woke up after a good night's sleep in Mr. Garcia' s house - what did he see? Well, everyone in the house had vanished including Mr. Garcia and his servants!
Now, if I were invited to a friend's house - I might be OK with a couple of pranks played on me. But - if everyone in the house just vanishes, isn't that bamboozling?
And then there's the sinister part: Mr Garcia's dead body is found about a mile away from his house...
It's definitely one heck of a mystery!
I'd say Conan Doyle has stretched this one a bit longer than required but as I said - the mystery's intriguing.
That's a scarr..y scene from Wisteria Lodge illustrated by Arthur Twidle. It's spooky!
"Man or woman?", I asked.
"Oh, man, of course. No woman would ever send a reply-paid telegram. She would have come."
The Cardboard Box is...one of the goriest Sherlock Holmes stories.
I mean, what else would you call a story that begins with two human ears being sent to a woman?
The questions before Holmes are many: who sent those ears - but more importantly why? This woman - Miss Cushing doesn't have any enemies. She's been living a mundane existence since ever.
So why these ears?
And you know what is even more sinister? The ears are not the ears of the same person!
Gory beginning - and you can be sure there's a gorier end.
This story was first published in the British edition as part of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes in 1892 - but it was, well...suppressed and finally released only in 1917 in the USA in His Last Bow.
Quite a story, eh?
"I should prefer that you do not mention my name at all in connection with this case, as I choose to be only associated with those crimes which present some difficulty in their solution."
(Now this case is not simple by any standards! So well, Sherlock Holmes is being a bit Holmsy there by treating it like it's nothing. ;-))
Imagine you are a landlady who's got a room she's just rented to a strange guy.
This guy pays well and all - but - he never ever shows you his face. He's always locked up in his room - he doesn't even open the door to receive his meals! He prints - literally writes in printed letters - when he wants something - and he leaves these notes outside his door.
He never talks - just never shows up.
Would you be worried? Of course!
I mean - it's so freaking mysterious...
This is exactly what's going on with Mrs. Warren of Great Orme Street. And she wants Sherlock Holmes to find out what's going on.
Now Sherlock Holmes does try to find out what's going on - and as he does - things start looking more and more sinister...
Watson: "Why should you go further in it? What have you to gain from it?"
indeed? It is art for art's sake, Watson...There is neither money nor
credit in it, and yet one would wish to tidy it up."
Now, this is one story that's one of the best ever Sherlock Holmes stories for me.
I still remember that moment when I was reading this story and my heart almost leapt - when Holmes suggested something mind-blasting in this story.
A man's been found dead - right next to the railway tracks near Aldgate Station in London.
This man has some important 'national interest' related papers in his pocket. Mind you - he's got only some of those papers, some others have been lost - and they're not in his pocket.
Who killed this man? Did he steal those important papers? Where are the missing papers he did not steal?
Then there's the other mystery: this man - had gone to see a play with his fiancee and had literally abandoned her on the road and run away somewhere the previous night.
No one does that, right?
Why did this man do such a crazy thing?
That's Aldgate station near which the dead body is found in the story. Thanks Frank Schulenburg!
This is one of those stories - that looks very simple at first. Then it becomes more mysterious.
Slowly - it captures you so much - you're taken for one heck of a ride!
"You can write me down an ass this time, Watson. This was not the bird that I was looking for."
Holmes...is...dying - of a disease.
That's right. This is different from every other Holmes story out there.
There's no mystery. There's no deduction. There's simply some awesome drama.
Now, I'll say it clearly: this is not the best Holmes story ever.
But, it is so very different from other stories - with Holmes actually almost dying - that it is worth a read - just for the contrast it provides.
And then of course there's that hint of excitement plus nervousness you feel as the story proceeds: is Holmes really dying?
Yes, of course there is a twist in the end.
A very satisfying one. ;-)
"Shall the world then, be overrun by oysters?"
(I know - this is the most nonsensical Holmes quote ever!)
Average Rating: No real 'average' rating as there's only drama and a twist.
And that gets 10/10!
There's a lady who's just...vanished!
She used to live alone and one fine day, off she went to a place called Baden. After Baden - she just hasn't been seen anywhere.
Now this lady isn't exactly the wealthiest on the planet. She doesn't even have any dependents or relatives close to her.
So how and why has she disappeared?
There's one amazing thing about many of the stories in His Last Bow - they start off as very mundane - you hardly expect anything out of them. Then, slowly, as Holmes follows clue number 1, then clue number 2, then 3, then 4...they become terribly shocking.
This is one such case!
I loved the twist in the end.
"...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."
(If it came from anyone other than Holmes, you'd think: 'this guy boasts a bit too much.' But then, Sherlock Holmes is speaking the truth.)
I've got a memory attached to The Devil's foot. A scary one!
When I was in grade 7, I read this story in my grandmother's house - in the night.
I was so horror-struck that I kept looking around to see if some ghost or devil was after me that night!
When I re-read the story again as an adult, I wasn't scared out of my wits. But I did feel that thrill you get from reading a 'how-the-freak-did-this-happen' story.
Two men and one woman were playing cards in a room. Then, suddenly, the woman died. The two men became lunatics. Just like that - while playing cards. So, what exactly happened?
And then - there's that terrifying expression that is there on all the three faces - a horrible expression: what was so scary that it drove two men mad and killed a woman on the spot?
Holmes has to find out!
"You are very inquisitive, Mr Holmes."
"It is my business."
His Last Bow is not Sherlock Holmes' typical case.
It's not even a complete story. It's more like a narration of that time when World War I was about to begin and German spies were all over the place.
But England had Sherlock Holmes on its side.
I'd say His Last Bow (the story) is a nice little read.
Not thrilling or breathtaking - but interesting enough in it's narration and description.
Here's a hint for you: Sherlock Holmes' name in the story is the same as one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's father's names!
"Though unmusical, German is the most expressive of all languages."
Average Rating: Not really an 'average' rating as this is a spy-story rather than a typical Holmes case. 7/10
And...just in case you haven't read His Last Bow yet, you can do so here: