Many have compared the two volumes of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in terms of quality and singularity. I have read comments stating that its second collection ─ two novels (The Hound of Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear) and two short story collections (His Last Bow and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes) ─ fell deeply short of people’s expectations.
But, I would like to set one thing straight. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has had enough of Sherlock Holmes by 1893. When he wrote “The Final Problem,” Doyle was resolved to kill Sherlock despite the growing demand for his brilliant and remarkable hero.
Why? I see two reasons: first, it was to save himself; second, it was to save Sherlock Holmes.
Doyle did not see himself as a writer in a box. Although the adventures of his Baker Street duo greatly appealed to readers, he continued to explore other genres including fantasy, poetry and historical fiction. Killing off Sherlock had the purest intention, but it unfortunately received the worst reaction. The people of London were utterly disappointed and mad. It took Doyle eight years to give in to their pressures and release The Hound of Baskervilles in 1901 which is the first novel in Volume II.
Doyle knew that the quality of Sherlock’s adventure stories would inevitably decline. Each case required an intricate plot and, in turn, meant a lot of mental work for the writer. Additionally, the public’s demands and his publisher’s deadlines did not make it easier. This is why I empathize with Doyle. He wanted to preserve the greatness of Sherlock Holmes without the influence of fandom.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Volume II revived Sherlock in print, yet some people would say that it did not carry the same fire. Maybe, maybe not. But one thing’s for sure, kudos to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for writing such superb work.