Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes' Stories - 5
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
Published in book form in 1927, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes contains the final twelve Sherlock Holmes stories. All these stories were as usual, published in The Strand Magazine, beginning in 1921. It has been said that these tales do not reflect the earlier genius of Arthur Conan Doyle, as one or two of them veer towards much darker subjects than Doyle had previously explored. However, I think this is pretty much down to personal taste and they are as much a part of the Sherlock Holmes collection as those that have gone before.
The stories in this final collection are:
The Illustrious Client 1924
The Blanched Soldier 1926
The Mazarin Stone 1921
The Three Gables 1926
The Sussex Vampire 1924
The Three Garridebs 1924
The Problem of Thor Bridge 1922
The Creeping Man 1923
The Lions Mane 1926
The Veiled Lodger 1927
Shoscombe Old Place 1927
The Retired Colourman 1926
The Illustrious Client (1924)
The Illustrious Client (1924)
This story is one of a handful of cases related not by Dr Watson, but by the great detective himself.
When well-to-do young socialite Violet de Merville falls madly in love with the wealthy, but immoral blackguard Baron Gruner, her ageing father is at a loss what to do. She refuses to listen to his, or anyone else's advice, until a mysterious family friend approaches Sherlock Holmes via Sir James Damery.
Following a less-than-successful intervention with the Baron, Holmes dispatches Dr Watson to the villain's house to tempt him with piece of a priceless porcelain - but what is Holmes doing in the meantime?
"I am sorry," said Holmes, "I am accustomed to have mystery at one end of my cases, but to have it at both ends is too confusing."
The Blanched Soldier (1926)
Encouraged to put pen to paper by Dr Watson, Sherlock Holmes decides to write his own account of this adventure. Naturally, he concentrates his narrative on the facts of the case, rather than describing the scene, the weather, or anything else that isn't pertinent to the matter in hand:
James Dodd seeks the help of the great detective when he finds that his enquiries about a former army friend, Godfrey Emsworth, hit a brick wall. He tells Holmes how Emsworth was injured while fighting in South Africa and was subsequently shipped out to a hospital in Cape Town. When Dodd returned to England, however, he found his friend's father rather disinclined to put him in touch with his old pal, and insists on telling him that Godfrey has gone on a round-the-world-trip. Sensing that something is amiss, Dodd inveigles himself into the Emsworth household and is offered a room for the night, though Emsworth Senior continues to insist that his son is not in the country. The situation takes a sinister turn when Dodd happens to see a face at the window...
"Any police interference would bring about the very catastrophe which you dread."
The Mazarin Stone (1921)
A reproduction of Sherlock Holmes sits in the bay window at 221B Baker Street. The strange figure is part of a trap to lure the villainous Count Sylvius to the detective's lodgings in order to discover where he has hidden a stolen diamond. Sylvius, however, is a dangerous man and willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. Has the famous sleuth underestimated his opponent?
"When the other fellow has all the trumps, it saves time to throw down your hand."
The Three Gables (1926)
Boxer Steve Dixie bursts into the Baker Street detective's rooms one day with a warning - do not get involved in The Three Gables. Holmes, of course, is not the least bit put off and a plea for advice from that very place, soon finds both him and Dr Watson heading for Harrow.
Mary Maberley has a problem - now that her dear son is dead, and she has no-one else to look after, she is considering selling the family home. When a she is presented with a generous offer, it seems to be exactly what she is looking for, but there is a catch - the prospective buyer wants everything in the house - including her personal possessions! Holmes suspects something may be hidden in the property by a previous owner, but when a burglary takes place, a torn page from a novel leaves a clue...
"By the way, Watson, I suppose you see it all clearly?"
The Sussex Vampire 1924
A firm of solicitors contact Sherlock Holmes to recommend one of their clients to him, in the hope that the celebrated detective will cast his problem-solving gaze over an unusual case. It turns out that the client is an old acquaintance of Watson's and he writes to Holmes with an outline of the situation before calling at Baker Street in person. Robert Ferguson believes that his Peruvian wife has been afflicted with some sort of vampiric influence and is at his wits end. Holmes quickly solves the mystery without leaving Baker Street, but visits the Ferguson household to confirm his suspicions...
"I fear that there is pain for you. Mr Ferguson, whatever the solution may be."
The Three Garridebs (1924)
A man with an unusual name seeks help from Sherlock Holmes after being approached by a distant relative. The newcomer, an American from a legal firm, has a curious request which involves a huge fortune - great wealth awaits them all if they can only locate one more member of his family. Holmes and Watson decide to visit the elderly Mr Garrideb with a view to discovering exactly what it is that is so attractive to the young lawyer.
"Oh, you did notice that, did you? Come, Watson, you improve all the time."
The Problem of Thor Bridge (1922)
A letter from wealthy businessman Neil Gibson invites Holmes and Watson to investigate the apparent murder of his wife. It seems he is anxious that his children's governess, who is the only suspect in the crime, is saved from the gallows. The evidence against her is strong - a gun found in her wardrobe, a note written by her to the murdered woman, and the fact that Gibson is believed to have had intimate relations with the governess, would not seem to hold out much hope for her acquittal. With Gibson due at Baker Street at any minute, the intrepid investigators are surprised when a rather agitated stranger turns up to see them...
"Don't be noisy, Mr Gibson. I find that after breakfast even the smallest argument is unsettling."
The Creeping Man (1923)
Trevor Bennett, assistant to famous scientist Professor Presbury, approaches Sherlock Holmes with a curious problem: his employer has been acting rather oddly and Bennett is worried that a recent trip aboard has had a bizarre effect on the Professor. The old man's behaviour has also led to his being attacked by a normally docile dog, not to mention his activities in the middle of the night when he is seen crawling along the floor on all fours. When Holmes and Watson arrive at the house, they are greeted with a further development - the professor's daughter, whose room is on the second floor, tells how she was awakened during the night by a face at her window - her father's face!
"The date being September 5," said Holmes. "That certainly complicates matters."
The Lion's Mane (1926)
Following his retirement to the Sussex coast, with only occasional visits from his biographer Dr Watson, Sherlock Holmes is forced to write his own account of this particular mystery:
When Holmes bids good morning to his friend Harold Stackhurst one day on the Downs, the pair are flabbergasted to see young teacher Fitzroy McPherson collapse and die on the beach. The man's body is covered with strange markings and a note from a young woman is found in his pockets. Another teacher, Ian Murdoch, turns out to bear more than a little animosity towards the dead man. Holmes is keen to question the man about his recent movements, but then Murdoch himself is the victim of a bizarre attack...
"Anything which will define what made that mark will bring us a long way towards the criminal."
The Veiled Lodger (1927)
A concerned landlady, Mrs Merrilow, turns up at Baker Street one day hoping for advice from the great Sherlock Holmes. It seems that she has a lodger - a Mrs Ronder - who never shows her face. At least, she has shown it once and poor Mrs Merrilow wishes she'd never seen it. Holmes is a little puzzled: the mysterious lodger has lived in the house for seven years, always pays her rent on time and never gives a bit of trouble. The landlady however, is only concerned about her lodger's health. She begs Holmes to visit the house and speak to the woman, having forewarned the ailing lodger of his arrival. After Holmes has acquainted his companion of the facts surrounding the case, he and Watson duly set out to see the mysterious woman...
"It was, I understand, terribly mutilated..."
Shoscombe Old Place (1927)
Horse trainer John Mason seeks confidential advice from Holmes when his employer Sir Robert Norberton finds himself in financial difficulties. The trainer explains how Sir Robert's fortunes stand on a horse, Shoscombe Prince, winning the Derby. Sir Robert relies on his widowed sister Lady Beatrice for capital as it is she, not he, who has a life interest in their home, Shoscombe Old Place. As Lady Beatrice has recently fallen ill, she and her brother seem to have fallen out of friendship and their outwardly spiteful relationship is a cause of great concern. However, strange goings-on at the family crypt give Holmes a clue to the reality of the situation...
“These are deep waters, Mr. Mason; deep and rather dirty.”
The Retired Colourman (1926)
A used theatre ticket provides a vital clue to Dr Watson when he visits the home of Josiah Amberley to discuss the disappearance of that individual's wife. It would appear that she and a Dr Ernest have run off together and Amberley wants Holmes and Watson to investigate. With Holmes busy on another case, it is left to Dr Watson to put the pieces of this mystery together. Why, for instance, is the troubled husband painting his house? And who is the mysterious man who appears to be watching the miserly Amberley's every move? Watson takes his findings to Holmes and is immediately sent off on what seems to be a wild goose chase, with Amberley in tow...
“Cut out the poetry, Watson,” said Holmes severely.