This was a interesting one. Although admittedly not as exciting as the former three books in the series, it did contain some fascinating background on our infamous antihero Sherlock Holmes. It takes us all the way back to his college days where he solved his first mystery. Sherlock Holmes always was superior in his deduction and observational skills, but this was the first time that he realised that he could use his skill sets for something bigger, rather then just as a means of amusing himself and astounding others. Thereafter he set out on his life's path as one of the greatest detectives of his day. We are also introduced to Sherlock's older brother Mycroft. Sherlock readily admits that Mycroft is not only smarter then him, but that he also has a better observational perspective then him. Mycroft however lacks ambition and drive. The ability is there, but the passion is not. Moriarty also makes a appearance in this book. The only villain that is Sherlock's equal.
The last chapter titled The Final Problem was supposed to showcase the death of Sherlock Holmes. The author fully intended to kill off Sherlock so as to bring the series to a end. From 1893 to 1901 Sherlock Holmes was dead to his readers and fans. Arthur Conan Doyle had no regrets about his decision to kill Sherlock, but it was his decision to bring Sherlock back to life. He seemly embraced Sherlock as a character after that, writing five more books. One wonders if he ever actually fully intended to kill him off however, seeing how Sherlock met his end. Too easily was his death able to be scratched in the feature and explained in another light in order to declare that he never actually did die. Perhaps the author purposely left a opening in case he decided to bring the beloved detective back someday? I for one am glad that he did. He was also continually and consistently badgered however by publishers and fans alike to revive Sherlock Holmes, so possibly he was just trying to please people and give them what they wanted, but his latter works would suggest otherwise. The Hound of the Baskervilles being declared one of his finest pieces.
My rating : ****