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The Return of Sherlock Holmes

The Return of Sherlock Holmes


by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Return of Sherlock Holmes The Adventure of the Empty House Summary

  • It's spring of 1894 in London and a famous dude, Ronal Adair, has been murdered.
  • Sounds like a case for Sherlock Holmes!
  • Except not, because Sherlock Holmes is dead.
  • Watson, we're not really sure where this story is going.
  • But Watson tells us to hold-up. He's writing this adventure around ten years after the events that he's describing, since he just got permission from a mystery man to publish this story. Who could it be?
  • You probably already know, but we'll let Watson tell this at his own (somewhat melodramatic) pace. Go for it, Watson.
  • OK, so Watson is now interested in crime thanks to his BFF, the dearly departed Sherlock Holmes. Watson is interested in solving crimes, not committing them, just to clarify.
  • So this Ronal Adair murder case is super mysterious.
  • Watson is stressed because he doesn't have Holmes's mad crime solving skills.
  • The case goes like this: Ronald Adair is a wealthy man who lives with his mom and sister Hilda.
  • Adair liked playing cards and gambling, but he only did it in moderation and didn't need to enroll in Gamblers Anonymous.
  • On the night of the murder no one heard anything unusual.
  • Adair was found the next morning dead from a gunshot wound to the head. He was lying near a table that had piles of money on it, as well as some paper with numbers written on it.
  • The house was very hard to get inside and there was no evidence that anyone had climbed in or out of the window.
  • Maybe they apparated in.
  • Also, the killer didn't bother taking the piles of money lying around.
  • Curioser and curioser.
  • After pondering the case, Watson goes to the scene of the crime at Park Lane.
  • There's a crowd milling around, and Watson can't find any new clues.
  • He accidentally bumps into an old man and makes the old man drop some books.
  • The old man is mad and rushes off with his books.
  • Watson goes back to observing the house, but can't come up with anything new.
  • He returns to his house in Kensington.
  • His maid tells him he has a visitor.
  • It's the old man he (literally) ran into earlier.
  • The old man apologizes for being rude.
  • Watson is like, no problem, go away now.
  • The old man tries to sell Watson some books by telling him his bookshelves look empty and untidy.
  • Watson turns around to check them out. When he turns back, Sherlock Holmes is standing there!
  • Sherlock Holmes is a shape-shifter! Or, just really good at disguises. Or else Watson is super unobservant and slow on the up-take. Possibly a combination of these things.
  • Watson freaks out since Holmes is supposed to be dead and faints.
  • When he comes to he freaks again, but Holmes calms him down.
  • Holmes apologizes for his dramatic entrance and for the whole fake-death thing.
  • Watson excitedly greets his formerly late-lamented friend and demands the down-low on how it is that Holmes is alive.
  • First Holmes makes Watson promise to resume his sidekick roll, starting tonight. Watson says, no problem.
  • Then Holmes launches into a long narrative where he explains how he didn't die. Here's the gist.
  • A few years earlier Holmes was having an epic showdown with his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, in Switzerland.
  • Being a classy guy, Professor Moriarty let Holmes write a farewell note to Watson. Even Moriarty couldn't deny the power of the bromance.
  • Then Moriarty tried to knock Holmes off a cliff. They struggled and Holmes managed to knock Moriarty off the cliff with his knowledge of sumo wrestling. No, really.
  • Then Holmes realized that he was still in danger from Moriarty's gang of minions, who would want to avenge their boss. So Holmes decided to fake his death and hide out till he could take care of Moriarty's gang.
  • Holmes made sure that the scene would fool Watson into thinking he had died.
  • Then Holmes climbed up the side of a cliff to make his escape.
  • On his way, one of Moriarty's gang members threw rocks at Holmes and tried to kill him. Do these people not have guns?
  • Holmes escaped and ran off to Italy.
  • His brother, Mycroft, was the only one who knew he was alive and helped him hide out for three years.
  • Holmes globe-trotted for three years and stayed off the radar.
  • He also did some secret spy work, scientific exploration, science experiments, and chilled with lamas in Tibet.
  • The murder of Ronald Adair caught Holmes's attention though, and he returned to London.
  • He came back to his old house on Baker Street, which Mycroft had maintained for him, and startled his housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson. By "startled," we mean "nearly gave a heart-attack." Oh, that Sherlock Holmes.
  • That night Holmes and Watson head out just like old times to solve some crime. Or stop some crime. Watson doesn't really know what they're up to, which is also like old times. He's just along for the ride.
  • They don't go to Baker Street, which surprises Watson.
  • Instead the two take a round-about route to some dark empty house.
  • Once inside Watson sees that they are across the street from Holmes's house. It's a stakeout!
  • Watson is amazed to see Holmes's silhouette in the window of Holmes's house.
  • Holmes explains that it's a wax dummy.
  • He's trying to fool the most dangerous member of Moriarty's gang, the rock thrower, into revealing himself tonight so they can catch him.
  • So the two sit for hours and watch the house. Nothing happens.
  • Watson notes that the silhouette moved and Holmes says duh. He arranged for his housekeeper to move the wax dummy occasionally so that it wouldn't look like a wax dummy.
  • They wait some more.
  • Finally a man sneaks into the dark room where Holmes and Watson are hiding.
  • Mystery man pulls out a weird looking gun and fires across the street.
  • Then Holmes jumps out and tackles the assassin.
  • Some cops swarm in. One of them is an old buddy of Holmes named Lestrade.
  • Holmes closes the blinds and Lestrade lights a candle, revealing the mystery assassin.
  • It's Colonel Sebastian Moran, who used to be a successful "big game" hunter, meaning that he went around killing elephants and tigers and whatnot.
  • Moran refuses to talk to Holmes and tells the cops to take him away.
  • Holmes then does his usual summing up routine, which is now featured on every detective show on TV. Holmes tells us all about the fancy gun that Moran used and says that he killed Ronald Adair with it. Then he tells Lestrade to take credit for this case since he doesn't want his involvement to be known.
  • Watson and Homes return to the Baker Street house.
  • Mrs. Hudson takes the shot-up wax dummy away. RIP wax dummy.
  • The two men chat about Moran, and Holmes gives us a low-down of Moran's personal history.
  • He was a gambler and Holmes theorizes that he was cheating and Adair threatened to expose him. So Moran killed Adair before he could talk.
  • With Moran in jail, Holmes can now safely return to life and resume his detective business in London.
  • Fun with Maps: Check out Holmes's address on a map! Go here.
  • Also, here's an awesome floor plan of Holmes's place.

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