This is the final collection of Sherlock Holmes tales from Arthur Conan Doyle. I know there are lots of additional pastiche stories to come later on and for the most part I do not intend to be reading any of them, except perhaps Mitch Cullen’s A Slight Trick of the Mind or the Laurie King books because my wife likes them, and I trust her.
This book does some things that I like and some things that I don’t like. My not liking them is a taste issue or a feeling of limitation of this book and more or less doesn’t affect quality, simply that there are things I prefer and the book does not do them.
What I like: Switching it up! Holmes narrates at least one of these stories and there’s a third-person narrator for a different one. This is not the same thing as what happens in many of the Holmes stories, in which narratives are embedded into the main narrative but still filtered through Watson. This is a complete shift in perspective. Because of the ways in which Watson characterizes so much of Holmes, it’s not to see a change of pace.
What I don’t like: The returning to familiar landscapes in time. What I mean by this is that this book comes out in 1927 when Doyle was close to 70 and presumably Holmes is quite old. Instead of having stories in this context, we have a much younger Holmes working in the late 1890s and early 1900s and we’ve covered that ground before. So I can’t complain that this is bad, since so many Holmes stories cover this ground and these mysteries are still good. Instead, it’s more of a missed opportunity.