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date: 24 March 2023

Return of Sherlock Holmes, The

The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction
Sandra KempSandra Kemp, Charlotte MitchellCharlotte Mitchell, David TrotterDavid Trotter

Return of Sherlock Holmes, The, 

A. Conan Doyle, 1905, George Newnes.

In 1893, Sherlock Holmes appeared to have solved his last crime by tumbling off the Reichenbach Falls in the arms of Professor Moriarty. Eventually, after eight years, public demand persuaded Doyle to resuscitate him. The thirteen stories in The Return appeared in the Strand Magazine between October 1903 and December 1904 and in Collier's Weekly between September 1903 and January 1905. Holmes reappears during ‘The Empty House’, setting up a wax dummy of himself in a window to lure the villain. Most of the stories follow the successful formula of the locked-room mystery, with Watson (and the reader) following respectfully in Holmes's hermeneutic wake. Like its predecessors, the volume contains its full quota of crushed skulls and slit throats, not to mention a man pinned to the wall by a harpoon (‘Black Peter’). The most interesting development, no doubt provoked by the increasing popularity of a new genre, the spy thriller, sees Holmes recovering a stolen document which, if published, would draw Britain into a European war (‘The Second Stain’).