Fancy Patter

Theo Tait

  • The Final Solution by Michael Chabon
    Fourth Estate, 127 pp, £10.00, February 2005, ISBN 0 00 719602 4

As everyone knows, Sherlock Holmes only appeared to plunge into the Reichenbach Falls, locked in a deadly embrace with Professor Moriarty. In fact, using his knowledge of ‘baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling’, Holmes slipped Moriarty’s grip at the vital moment, watched his nemesis totter then fall, and was planning his next move before the Napoleon of crime had even hit the water. Holmes returned to London – via Florence, Tibet, Persia, Mecca, Khartoum and Montpellier (where he undertook a little research into coal-tar derivatives) – to surprise Dr Watson at his Paddington consulting rooms some years later, in the guise of an elderly bibliophile. By the time of Holmes’s resurrection in ‘The Empty House’ (1903), Arthur Conan Doyle heartily resented his most famous creation, but vast amounts of cash had proved an irresistible lure. Doyle made no further efforts to bump him off; the best he managed was retirement. In ‘His Last Bow’ (1917), Holmes is called on to roll up a German spy network on the eve of the First World War. Dr Watson, that indefatigable plot-exposition device, fills us in:

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