Books, How's This Book?, Review, Sherlock Holmes

The Final Problem: The Only and Totally Real Death of Sherlock Holmes

So, a bit of background about this particular Sherlock Holmes adventure. Originally, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had intended it to be the very final story starring the legendary detective, hence the title. But due to public demand, and his own financial struggles, he ultimately decided to bring him back to life later, thus beginning a new, longer era of Sherlock Holmes adventures.

Which is good. Because The Final Problem really isn’t all that great. Hey! Pitchforks down! Let me explain!

This story this time around is extremely simple. Sherlock is three days away from taking down his greatest foe yet, Professor Moriarty. But to do that, he first must survive to see the day.

Now, you may be wondering where the mystery is. It is, after all, a Sherlock Holmes story. What complex puzzle must the legendary detective solve in order to put Moriarty into a corner? It was supposed to be his last hurrah, so what amazing thrill did Sir Arthur put before his hero’s path?

Well, I hope you are prepared to die with that question in your mind, because we will never know.

There is no mystery in this novel. None. It’s just ‘Sherlock and Watson run from the bad guy, go on a vacation, then Sherlock dies’. Hate to spoil this over-hundred-year-old story, but that’s all it is. Unfortunately, it’s about as compelling as it sounds.

Now, you’d think that it would at least nail Moriarty himself, right? I mean, come on! He’s the most iconic villain in Sherlock Holmes! Every single adaptation of the character uses him! He’s the Lex Luthor to Sherlock’s Superman! The Sephiroth to his Cloud! The one villain that truly pushes the legendary detective to use all of his abilities to the fullest!

Nope. It’s mostly ‘tell, don’t show’. Sure, Moriarty has one scene that does a great job of making him seem intimidating, like a truly worthy foe to Sherlock. But that one scene is a flashback told by Holmes himself! That is literally the only time in the entire story that Moriarty even speaks! Everything menacing that he actually does happens off-screen!

That’s this whole story in a nutshell. All the actual story happens outside of the story itself. Watson, our perspective character, is never there for anything. There is no mystery to be solved. No adventure to be had. It’s just ‘Sherlock meets a really bad guy and dies’. How thrilling.

I can see why people wanted Sherlock to come back after this. If it really ended like this, that would be indescribably disappointing.

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