The Final Problem: A Review

14 Jun

Sherlock Holmes (r) and Dr. John B. Watson. Fr...

Image via Wikipedia

So, I just finished reading Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Published in 1893, only a few short years after A Study in Scarlet, the first Holmes book, came out in 1887, it contained eleven good Holmes stories. These were a good read, but, there was something lacking in them, compared to his short stories in Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The stories in that book are brilliant, and some of the most famous, including “The Red-headed League,” “The Five Orange Pips,” and many more. I’m not saying “Memoirs” was bad, but there was something that was not quite at the same level as the “Adventures”. I had just finished a rather long short story in there, which was interesting but a bit dull at times, and I turn the page and am greeted with “The Final Problem.” A bit perplexed, I started reading. (Remember, these books are told first person from Watson‘s point of view)

It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to write these the last words in which I shall ever record the singular gifts by which my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes was distinguished.

What? I was rather confused. I knew there was a story where Holmes was killed by Moriarty, but I did not expect it to come so soon. I have the two-volume set of the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, (All the Sherlock Holmes stories as well as a few essays, the left out some of his historical fiction works and his works on spirituality) and this isn’t even the last story in the first volume! After this is The Hound of the Baskervilles. I put off reading the story for a day or two, but yesterday I decided to read it.

 

It continued:

 

In an incoherent and, as I deeply feel, an entirely inadequate fashion, I have endeavored to give some account of my strange experiences in his company from the chance which first brought us together at the period of the “Study in Scarlet,” up to the time of his interference in the matter of the “Naval Treaty” — an interference which had the unquestionable effect to preventing a serious international complication. It was my intention to have stopped there, and to have said nothing of that event which has created a void in my life which the lapse of two years has done little to fill.

 

 

Tribute to Sherlock Holmes in Meiringen, villa...

Tribute to Holmes near Reichenbach Falls, the place where he died in the story

I read the book, and it was very good, I admit. However, I say the end coming. It was obvious; Holmes and Watson had been, essentially, running away from Moriarty for the entire time, and Watson gets a mysterious letter calling him back down to the hotel he and Holmes had been staying at, leaving Holmes alone with a guide they didn’t know very well, and Watson sees a man walking up the mountain as he goes down. It really was not a very difficult mystery. To put that into perspective, I have only figured out one story, other than this, before the end. I figured out the short story “The Yellow Face,” but it was really not meant to be that hard of a mystery, at least that how it struck me.

 

It seemed more a story of dread than of mystery; it would be like if you saw the end of “The Sixth Sense,” and then watched the entire film. It would rip out all the suspense and make it more about feeling the black anticipation that accompanies knowing the end. You end up just wanting to scream at Watson and Holmes. And perhaps that’s how it was supposed to be: Holmes knew that the letter was a fake and sent Watson off so her could ‘face his fate’. And, the not-shocker-of-an-ending ends with Sherlock being presumed dead, along with Moriarty, having (perhaps) fallen into the waterfalls. Holmes was given time to write Watson a letter, and Watson reads it and then sums up the story in a few short paragraphs.

 

I cried. It was a rather sad story. And it was clear that that was all the story was meant for; to give a good end to Holmes. Yes, he went down fighting and nailed the baddie. The writing was good, but not the same as his earlier works.

It seems like Doyle really wasn’t enjoying writing these any more, and it’s a shame. I think that his early works are brilliant, some of the finest mystery writing of all time. I think that Memoirs was written just because Doyle needed a way to get out. He wanted to write other things. Of course, his escape route failed, as he returned to writing Holmes stories a few years later.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A good short story, in my opinion. One of the best in Memoirs. Perhaps one of my favorites, I’m really not sure yet. I’ve been going back and changing my mind multiple times while writing this, and my opinion has changed a lot. The story itself was good, and it was a fitting end for the detective. However, I think it could have been better. Doyle just did not want to write Holmes stories anymore. And because of that, the quality of the work decreased. It truly is a shame, because his early works are some of my favorites. I really wished he had enjoyed writing these to put more effort, perhaps even an entire full-length novel, into the ultimate but heroic demise of my favorite detective.

 

Overall rating:

8.5/10

As I said, the story itself was rather good. It just seemed to me that it was written so he could escape. I think that if he had cared about writing these stories more, he could have still killed Holmes off, but in a way that was better written.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: