Now that I've finished this, I only have one collection of Sherlock Holmes stories left to read (The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes), and then I will have read the entire canon in twelve months. I started back in March of 2013, so as long as I don't take more than six weeks to read the next one, I'll have achieved my goal.
But anyway, about His Last Bow. I feel that, on a whole, the stories in this are rather better than in the previous collection, The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Certainly it has more that I quite enjoyed. I don't know if Doyle had regained some of his joy for the characters or genre, or if I was just more in the mood to like them. But I really liked "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" and "The Adventure of the Red Circle," and although both "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" and "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot" are gruesome and grotesque, I quite liked them as well. "His Last Bow" was also enjoyable for its change of pace and leap a few years into the future from the other cases.
I noticed a bit of a change in Holmes and Watson in this book. Holmes seems weary of the world and its brutalities, and Watson seems tired of Holmes' eccentricities at times. Holmes also is much more of a law unto himself -- he goes burgling in "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans," and he lets a murderer go free without pointing the police toward him at all in another story. In the past, he'd let a few criminals go, it's true, but he seems a bit more cavalier this time. Or maybe just tired of doing all the thinking for the police? He says, "I think you must agree, Watson, that it is not a case in which we are called upon to interfere. Our investigation has been independent, and our action shall be also.". It's true that the police didn't bring the case to his attention, but not called upon to interfere? Holmes is meting out his own justice now, it seems.
At any rate, it's an enjoyable set of mysteries. Spending time with my dear 'friends' Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is always pleasant.
Particularly Good Bits:
"My mind is like a racing engine, tearing itself to pieces because it is not connected up with the work for which it was built." ("The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge")
"What is the meaning of it, Watson?" said Holmes solemnly as he laid down the paper. "What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable. But what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which human reason is as far from an answer as ever." ("The Adventure of the Cardboard Box")
"Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last." ("The Adventure of the Red Circle")
"Besides, 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." ("The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax") (This may be my favorite Sherlock Holmes quote ever.)
"Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age." ("His Last Bow")
If this was a movie, I would rate it: PG for dangerous situations, violence, exotic drugs, and suspense.
This is my first book read and reviewed for The Classics Club.