Conan Doyle, is a collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories. Silver Blaze, The Yellow Face, The Stock-Brokers Clerk, The Gloria Scott, The Musgrave Ritual, The Reigate Puzzle, The Crooked Man, The Resident Patient, The Greek Interpreter, The Naval Treaty, and The Final Problem are included. A lot of information about Holmes and Watson is included in this collection. There is some information which is shocking, and other information which might have been expected. These stories also include some of Holmes most memorable adventures. I suppose this is why they call it Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
Silver Blaze actually has two mysteries: the disappearance of a famous horse, Silver Blaze, and the murder of its trainer. When Holmes and Watson hear about this, they go to check it out, with Colonel Ross, the owner of the horse, and Inspector Gregory. The foursome travels to the scene of the crimes: where Silver Blaze had last been seen and the body of the trainer was found, lying on the ground. They find nothing there, and after the colonel and the inspector leave Holmes and Watson at the crime scene, they find footprints a little ways off. The footprints are of a horse. They follow the footprints and find that a little farther they are joined by the footprints of a man. Following these set of tracks, the detective and the doctor are lead to Mapleton stables, which are the only other stables in the area besides the one where the horse lived. Holmes has a talk with the owner in private and finds that he does have Silver Blaze. After some negotiating the owner promises to let the horse ride in the races the next day, and then give him back to the owner. Holmes makes Watson promise to not tell anyone about their victory just yet, and he does readily. The next day the colonel, the inspector, Holmes, and Watson are watching the races. However, they do not see Silver Blaze anywhere. When one of the races is done, and there is a short intermission, they go around to the back where all the horses are kept during the day of the race. They find Silver Blaze to have been disguised. Holmes then explains how it was that the horses trainer had been killed. It seems that the trainer had wanted to do some sort of operation on the horse so he would run slower in the race, Lord knows why he wanted to do that. He had taken the horse into the middle of a field with a surgery knife. The trainer had tried to perform the operation, which was to be done on the backside of the horse. However, the horse had felt the knife cut into his body and kicked his trainer right in the head with his hind leg. This and the fact that the knife which the trainer had been holding had cut him severely on his leg had killed him.
The Yellow Face is one of the rare, unknown cases where Holmes turns out to be wrong. Another interesting truth learned in this case is that Holmes occasionally used cocaine! However, when these stories were written, it wasnt known that cocaine can kill you, so we cant blame Holmes because he didnt know. A man comes to Holmes and Watsons house, asking for advice and an answer. The man explains that some new people had moved into the house next door to his home, where he lived with his wife. When he had knocked on the new neighbors door, he was answered by a woman who was very harsh to him. She wouldnt let him go inside the house, and she shut the door in his face. When he started to walk home, he just happened to glance at one of the upstairs windows of the house. He saw a yellowish, livid-colored, expressionless face staring straight at him. He was very spooked, and hurried home. That night, at about two in the morning, he woke up and noticed his wife getting dressed. Pretending he was still asleep, he watched her walk out of the bedroom door, and he heard the front door open, and then shut. A while later he heard the front door open and shut again, and he saw his wife come through the bedroom door. He sat up and asked her where she had been. Her face turned guilty and frightened, and she lied and said that she had simply needed some fresh air. The next day, the man came home from work and saw that his wife was gone. He had a hunch that she had gone to see the new neighbors. She had gone home by the time he got there, but he stormed in anyway. There was only one room in the entire house which looked like it had been lived in, and no one was in the house at the time. The man finishes his story, and mentions on the way out that he and his wife had never kept secrets from each other before, and that he was his wifes second husband, the first one and the child having died from a severe illness. Holmes figures that the first husband has not died, but is a bad man and has come back to haunt his ex-wife. However, when Holmes, Watson and the man invade the house with whoever is living in it still there, a child and the wife are in the only comftorable room in the house. When the child shows her face, it is that same livid-colored face which the man had described earlier. But Holmes just laughs and, putting his hand behind the childs ear, pulls off the mask to reveal her true face. She is black, and, in the time that this story was written, blacks were called negros, and even though the Civil War had just ended, they were still treated as below whites by most people, in England as well as America and Europe. The wife explains that the first husband truly had died, but the child had not. The first husband had been a negro, and the wife described it as a misfortune that our only child took after his people rather than mine. She explained that the child had been living in America with a nanny for the three years that the wife has been married the second husband. Finally, the wife could not stand the thought of not seeing her child, and insisted that she move into the cottage next door for about a week or so. The wife is afraid that the second husband will hate the black child, force her to move back to America, and will be furious at the wife for having married a negro. However, the man kisses the child, and says they can discuss it in their own home. Holmes proves himself to be wrong, and takes it to heart.
The Stock-Brokers Clerk begins with the interesting fact that Watson has married and has a job as a medical doctor. However, Holmes calls upon him and asks him if he would like to go on another adventure. Watson readily agrees, and, telling his wife, he sets off with Holmes. Their client explains that he had just gotten a job when, one night, a man came to his home and asked him a few questions such as if he kept up with the stock-market, et cetera. The man was delighted with the answers which the client gave, and decided to hire him for the unknown company Franco-Midland Hardware Company, Limited. The client agreed to quit his current job, to join this new one, and noticed that the mans tooth on his left side had gold filling. The next day the client reported to the given office and was assigned some trivial work which took a few weeks. When the client was finished he went back to the office and handed the work to the man. This man was different from the one which had come to his house. However, the client noticed that he had the same exact tooth had gold filling as the first man. This confused the client, which brought him to Holmes. So Watson, Holmes, and the client go back to the office to find the man reading a newspaper. When he looks up from it his face is chalk white, and he generally looks really terrible. He wishes that everyone would just let him be, even though he has no idea that he is in the presence of the great Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Dr. Watson. The client reminds the man that he is here on appointment, and the man excuses himself for a minute. He goes into a back room. The three men are left waiting for some time, until they hear a few banging noises, and then a gurgling sound. They rush into the back room to find that the man has hung himself. The detective, his client, and the doctor immediately take the rope from around his neck, and taking him into the office, lay him down on the sofa. Dr. Watson saves him from death. While they are waiting for the man to completely recover, they read the article which the man had been reading aloud, only to find that it supports Holmes guess. The man does have a partner, but he has been working at the clients original job. He tried to steal all of the money from that job the night before, but he was caught. Holmes announces that human nature is a strange mixture, Watson. You see that even a villain and a murderer can inspire such affection that his brother turns to suicide when he learns that his neck is forfeited.
The Gloria Scott is very interesting, being that it was Holmes first case. It is strange to read about a case without Watson being the narrator. In this case, we also learn that, after Holmes got out of college, he had his amazing powers, but he only imagined them as the merest hobby. It is also learned that Holmes only went to college for two years. He was not very sociable, either. He had only one friend during those years, named Victor Trevor. During a long vacation in the college years Trevor invited Holmes to his fathers house. They have a good time there and the old Trevor is amazed at Holmess powers, fainting when Holmes mentions that the old Trevor used to be intimately aquatinted with someone whos initials were J.A., and afterwards he desperately wanted to forget about them. A day before Holmes is about to leave, a strange man walks in the door, who the old Trevor recognizes as Hudson. He is still there when Holmes leaves, and he is glad he did, because this Hudson character isnt the most pleasant of fellows. Near the end of the long vacation Victor sent Holmes a wire asking him to come down to the old Trevors house immediately. Victor meets Holmes at the train station and explains as they are riding to the house that his father received a wire which, after reading it, drove him into a stroke, where he fell into a coma. The only thing is that the wire makes absolutely no sense at all. By the time they get to the house the old Trevor has died. Victor goes into the room where he lies dead, privately with the doctor. Meanwhile Holmes tries to make sense of this confusing mess. Finally Victor returns from the room, with a few papers and a small piece of paper. The small paper was apparently the wire which the old Trevor had received when he was driven into the stroke. It read The supply of game for London is going steadily up. Head-keeper Hudson, we believe, has been now told to receive all orders for fly-paper and for preservation of your hen-pheasants life. Holmes was sure that it was a message written in code. After a few tries, he figures out that every third word reads The game is up. Hudson has told all. Fly for your life. The papers are a lengthy letter from the old Trevor to Victor, apparently to be read after he died. It said that he was not born Trevor, but James Armitage. He had committed some very bad crimes in his youth, and so was forced to work rowing on a ship with other inmates (remember, this was probably around the 1840s, so they were aloud to have slaves). However, the inmate who sat next to him, Jack Prendergast, had almost a quarter of a million pounds with him. He also had a lot of friends on the crew. He planned to get the rest of the inmates to team up with him and take over the ship. His friends on the crew brought everyone weapons every day, and so everyone had plenty of weapons in a short amount of time. They attacked soon after they received the weapons, and within a few hours or so, had killed almost every enemy on the ship except for a few, who were being held captive. About half of the inmates, the half which had Jack Prendergast, and their friends wanted to kill them, but the other half, the half which had the old Trevor/James Artimage, was tired of blood and didnt want to kill them. The half which had Prendergast won the argument, but they agreed to let whoever didnt want to see blood onto one of the smaller life boats attached to the ship, and they could stay in the boat until another ship came to rescue them. Trevor/Armitage and a few others went onto the boat. About an hour after they left the ship, they heard a giant booming sound. They rowed back to the ship, only to find a cloud of smoke and some pieces of wood from it. It had apparently been blown up somehow. They looked for survivors, but only found one, a man named Hudson. When they were rescued and returned to the shore, Trevor/Armitage and a few others changed their name and started their life over again. When Hudson came, apparently he got mad at Trevor/Armitage for some reason, and told the police everything which had happened.
The Musgrave Ritual is also one of Holmess pre-Watson cases. Apparently one of Holmess college mates calls on him about a possible case a few years after they got out of college. Holmes rides down to where the mate lives. It seems that the mate had a butler who had been faithful to the family for a long time. However, one night he was caught looking at the family papers. The mate gave him one week to get out of the house. When the butler had gone sulking to his room, the mate looked at the paper which he had been studying. It turned out to be a paper which explained a silly family ritual which didnt make much sense. One morning, within the week, the butler simply disappeared. That night a servant girl who had been very ill for some time disappeared. The mate found her footprints leading up to the lake, and some strangely shaped metal objects in her purse thrown into the lake. However, they could not find her body in the lake. Holmes looks at the paper which the butler had been studying. It reads:Whose was it?
His who is gone.
Who shall have it?
He who will come.
Where was the sun?
Over the oak.
Where was the shadow?
Under the elm.
How was it stepped?
North by ten and by ten, east by five and by five, south by two and by two, west by one and by one, and so under.
What shall we give for it?
All that is ours.
Why should we give for it?
For the sake of the trust.
Holmes follows this as best hi can, and it leads him to an underground passage. It stops where there is a huge rock covering the passage. With the help of the mate, Holmes pushes it to the side and finds that there is a little space and then there is a wall blocking the rest of the passage. In this area is the body of the dead butler. Holmes figures that the butler had followed this ritual and had gotten help from the sick girl in moving the rock. There must have been the contents of her purse in that room. After rescuing the treasure, the butler must have wanted it all for himself, so the girl got mad at him and somehow managed to push the rock back, where he was left to die. Holmes also figures out that the treasure really is treasure; it is the remains of the ancient crown of the kings of England. The Whose was it? His who is gone part of the ritual was after the execution of Charles. The Who shall have it? He who will come part of the ritual means it was meant for Charles the Second. But, for some reason, he never received it.
The Reigate Puzzle case takes place at Watsons friends place, just after Holmes has just gotten over a terrible illness. There is a murder at someones house one night while Holmes and Watson are staying at Watsons friends place. Holmes and Watson decide to investigate. The person killed was William the coachman, working for Mr. Cunningham and his 20 year old or so son, Alec. They go into the Cunninghams house to investigate. Holmes acts as if he made a lot of mistakes, he pretends to have a nervous attack, and he pushes something over and then blames it on Watson, but it is worth it, because all this helps him find the answer to the mystery. It turns out that the Cunninghams murdered William because apparently he had knew something about them which they didnt want anyone else to know, and was going to blackmail them.
The Crooked Man begins with Holmes coming to Watsons home and asking to spend the night. Of course Watson agrees, and Holmes explains a case which he should like to investigate with Watson in the morning. A wife and her friend had gone out one night to spend some time in town. They stayed out for a few hours, and then returned. When the wife came home, she went into the morning room, even though it was late at night, and asked the maid for a cup of tea. When the maid returned with her request, she found the door to the morning room locked and the husband inside with the wife. They were talking quietly for a bit, but then they started yelling at each other. After a while of yelling, the husband gasped, the wife screamed, there was a loud thumping noise, immediately followed by an even louder thumping noise. And all through this, the wife was screaming. The maid ran outside and around to the window, but she found it already open. The husband was lying dead on the floor with a very bad cut on the back of his head, the wife was lying on the couch still screaming in a state of shock, there was a heavy candlestick holder which could easily have cut the husbands head like that, and the key was nowhere to be found. a heavy candlestick holder which could easily have cut the husbands head like that, and the key was nowhere to be found. The maid called the police, and even they could not find the key. The next morning Watson and Holmes are up investigating the scene of the crime. They ask the friend of the wife who had gone out the evening before what had happened on the trip to town. She says reluctantly that a hunchbacked man had come up to greet the wife. She asked her friend if she would leave them alone to talk for a minute or two. After a while they stopped talking. Holmes and Watson find out where the hunchbacked man lives, and go to have a chat with him. He says that the husband had betrayed him in a war that they fought on opposite sides in India. The wife, who hadnt been a wife then, had loved the hunchbacked man, who wasnt hunchbacked then, and not the husband, who wasnt a husband then. The hunchbacked man was tortured in India and left with a hunchback to wander around. He finally got enough money to go back to England, and when he found out that the wife had married the husband, he was furious. After he had had that talk with her, he came to visit her, but saw her and her husband having a big argument in the morning room. The hunchbacked man had opened up the window and jumped into the room. The surprise and his looks so startled the husband that he fell backwards, hitting his head on the corner of the table, and so cutting his head enough to kill him. As for the key, the hunchbacked man had noticed it, and picked it up, since no one seemed to be using it.
The Resident Patient begins with a man coming to Holmes place while Watson is visiting and asking for Holmes help. This man is Dr. Trevelyan, who is very skilled at medical doctory, and lives with his employer. One day, while the employer was out, a father and son came into the doctors office. The son said that his father had a very bad, very rare disease and he needed help right away. The son waited out in the waiting room while the doctor treated the father. Just before the employer came home, the father and son left. When the employer went into his bedroom he saw footprints on the carpet which were not his and definitly not the doctors. The employer insisted that Dr. Trevelyan tell Holmes about it. So Holmes, Watson, and Dr. Trevelyan go to his and his employers home. When they see the footprints and the employer starts talking, Holmes says that he cant help him if he doesnt tell the truth, and when the employer keeps lying, Holmes and Watson walk out of there and to Holmes place. The next day they receive a wire from Dr. Trevelyan which asks them to come quickly. Once they arrive, they find out that the employer was hung in his room, and they quickly go upstairs into his bedroom. After looking carefully at all footprints viewable Holmes deducts that there were three men involved: the two men which were supposedly the patient and son of Dr. Trevelyan, and a third unknown man. They crept up to the employers bedroom and gagged him while they decided what to do with him. Finally they decided to hang him, and so they did. Later on Holmes discovers that the three men had committed previous crimes together.
In The Greek Interpreter, it is discovered that Holmes actually has a brother, and he is better at deduction than Holmes is! The only reason why Holmes is famous and his brother, Mycroft, isnt is because Mycroft is terribly lazy. One night, when Watson and Holmes go to visit Mycroft, he tells them that he has a friend who has a case for Holmes. This friend tells them the story. It seems that this friend happens to be a foreign language interpreter, but he is especially good at Greek. One night someone came to him, asking him to come with him so he could interpret a Grecian friend. On the way there the interpreter is told that he better not tell anyone about this, or he will pay the consequences. When they arrived there the interpreter met a Grecian man, who was obviously being starved. He also had plaster over his mouth so he could not talk. The interpreter interpreted what the man told him to tell the Grecian man, but he also added on his own little questions at the end. The Grecian man wrote down the answers to both questions in Greek on a sheet of paper. The interpreter found out his name and where exactly they were. Then they drove the interpreter back to the hotel where he had been staying, and he was reminded once again that he better not tell anyone about this. Holmes, Watson, Mycroft, and the interpreter ride to the house, but first they have to get a warrant, which takes a long time, so by the time they go into the house it is emptied. Except for one room, that is. The room is filled with smoke, and the Grecian man is found inside it, dead.
The Navy Treaty is a complex case, in which Watsons friend, Percy Phelps, is the victim. Holmes and Watson take a ride to Percys house on his request. It seems that Percy was trusted with a treaty between England and Italy for a day or two. It was to be kept completely confidential. Late at night Percy was at the office with the treaty when he went down to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. He heard a slamming door, and, taking all precautions, checked back at his office to make sure no one had taken the treaty. But, to his horror, he found that someone had taken it. He went outside and asked a couple of policemen if they had seen anyone suspicious looking going into or out of the building. They said no. Together they searched the streets frantically in search for some sort of clue of who could have stolen the treaty, but there was none. This drove Percy into a mad fit, and he was taken to his bedroom, where his fiance and her brother lived. They took good care of him. Holmes and Watson ride around town asking all the policemen questions, but none of them were helpful. The next morning Holmes and Watson return to Percys house and tell him the bad news. Percy, in turn, tells them about something interesting which happened last night. Percy was in bed asleep, when he awoke from a banging sound at the window. He threw open the shutters to find a man in a black cape with a long knife. He immediately ran away, so Percy could not see who it was. This gives Holmes an idea. He tells Percys fiance to sleep in her bedroom that night, and sends Watson and Percy back to Baker Street. Holmes, meanwhile, stays in the town which surrounds Percys house until it is late at night. This is when Holmes creeps to underneath Percys bedrooms window and sits there, squatting, waiting. After a while Percys fiances brother, Joseph, steps outside, wearing the black cape and holding the long knife that Percy had described. He opens up the window, not seeing Holmes, and creeps into the bedroom. He would have gone through the bedroom door except then he would have to pass the bedroom in which his sister was sleeping, and so risk the chance of waking her up. He took the long knife and carefully opened one of the pipes which was going through Percys bedroom, near the wall. Inside the pipe was the treaty. When Joseph stepped out of the bedroom window with the treaty, he walked straight into Holmess arms. Holmes negotiates with him, and so gets back the treaty, which he gives to Percy next morning.
The Final Problem is a very moving case, in which both the criminal and Holmes lose and win at the same time. It is indeed the very last case which Holmes ever took on in his life. There is a certain Professor Moriarty who is as intelligent as Holmes, only he is the backup for every single criminal in London. Holmes tries desperately to get rid of him time and time again, but to no avail. Finally Holmes thinks he can really capture Moriarty and his many agents for good. Holmes doesnt really explain what it is that he is planning to do, but it better work, because Moriarty is only a step behind Holmes. Watson and Holmes go out of the city into the country, where they spend the night at a hotel. In the morning they leave walking, and, about an hour later, a messenger comes up to Dr. Watson with a note from the hotel keeper that a resident is very sick and needs immediate care from a doctor, and Watson just happens to be the closest doctor around. Watson is reluctant to leave Holmes, but Holmes says that he should go, so he does. When Watson arrives at the hotel and asks the hotelkeeper where the sick resident is, she looks at him funny. He shows her the note and asks her if she wrote it. She said she never did. Watson starts to run back towards Holmes. He knows that Moriarty must have written the note, and the messenger must have been one of his agents. When Watson arrives at the place where he last saw Holmes, he is gone. However, Watson sees two sets of footprints. They lead up to the waterfall, where the stop, as if the people who made them fell into the waterfall, and so would die immediately. Watson notices a note left on a rock for him, held from the wind by the silver cigarette case which Holmes used to carry with him. The note read:
My dear Watson:
I write these few lines through the courtesy of Mr. Moriarty, who awaits my convenience for the final discussion of those questions which lie between us. He has been giving me a sketch of the methods by which he avoided the English police and kept himself informed of our movements. They certainly confirm the very high opinion which I had formed of his abilities. I am pleased to think that I shall be able to free society from any further effects of his presence, though I fear that it is at a cost which will give pain to my friends, and especially, my dear Watson, to you. I have already explained to you, however, that my career had in any case reached its crisis, and that no possible conclusion to it could be more congenial to me than this. Indeed, if I may make a full confession to you, I was quite convinced that the letter from Meiringen the hotelkeeper was a hoax, and I allowed you to depart on that errand under the persuasion that some development of this sort would follow. Tell Inspector Patterson that the papers which he needs to convict the gang Moriartys agents are in pigeonhole M., done up in a blue envelope and inscribed Moriarty. I made every disposition of my property before leaving England and handed it to my brother Mycroft. Pray give my greetings to Mrs. Watson, and believe me to be, my dear fellow,
Very sincerely yours,
And so ends the career of the great Sherlock Holmes, forever.
I dont think there can be a theme for a collection of short stories, but I would say that, for all the Sherlock Holmes books, the theme would be something like keep trying, no matter what happens.