His Last Bow is the chronological conclusion of the Sherlock Holmes stories, collected in 1917, as the First World War was drawing to a final bloody conclusion, there is a distinct change in style from the earlier Holmes stories.
By 1917 Conan Doyle had lost his brother, both his brother in laws and his son and to the war. It was a time that saw the author increasingly drawn to Spiritualism and a belief in Fairies—yes, the winged variety of legend. But give the guy a break, when half your family has been butchered, the need to believe in something anything is strong.
Simpler times Crimeziners, Simpler times. A time when the omnipotent lie of the British Empire was drawing to a close. A time when the idealistic Victorian society had been culled on the fields of Flanders, in the mistaken belief that dying for king and country actually meant something.
So it is little wonder that the Holmesian myth of invincibility & Squirely patronage would seem a little—dated under the circumstances. So we get juiced up violence, and more modern villains, dastardly huns and sneaky spies. We get the first mention of a motor vehicle and the sense that the stories have moved into the modern age from the gas-lamp Victorian past.
The final story of this collection sees Holmes give a very Churchillian speech about the East wind of change blowing over England a rousing passage that was adapted to Rathbone screen-era Holmes, as a comment on the Second World War.
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, originally a standalone collection of short stories is now available with the Last Bow Collection. While this makes sense value wise, it is a step back in time, one senses that there is the yearning for a bygone era straining behind these simple tales of honor and investigation. This collection is interesting as it sees a number of stories narrated by Holmes in the first person, rather than by Watson.
We also get to see Holmes in his bee-keeping retirement. The collection appeared in 1927 Sadly not every story is a classic. Some of them may appear overly dated for modern taste. But no matter, Sherlock Holmes is a full blown Crimezine legend and this collection is essential reading for crime fans. Holmes may have lived to arthritic old age in the Sussex countryside. But to the popular imagination The omnipotent Holmes of Legend will for ever reside at 221b Baker Street.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died 7 July 1930.