“A Scandal in Bohemia” July 1891
The King of Bohemia engages Holmes to recover an indiscreet photograph showing him with the renowned beauty, adventuress and opera singer Irene Adler—the revelation of which would derail his marriage to a daughter of the King of Scandinavia. In disguise, Holmes witnesses Adler marry the man she truly loves, then by means of an elaborate stratagem discovers the photograph’s hiding place. But when Holmes and the king return to retrieve the photo, they find Adler has fled the country with it, leaving behind a letter for Holmes and a portrait of herself for the King. The king allows Holmes to retain the portrait as a souvenir.
“The Red-Headed League” August 1891
Jabez Wilson, a pawnbroker, consults Holmes about a job, gained only because of his red hair, which took him away from his shop for long periods each day; the job for to simply copy the Encyclopædia Britannica. After eight weeks, he was suddenly informed that the job ended. After some investigation at Wilson’s shop, Holmes contacts a police inspector and the manager of a nearby bank. With Watson, they hide in the bank vault and catch two thieves who had dug a tunnel from the shop while Wilson was at the decoy copying job.
“A Case of Identity” September 1891
Against the wishes of her stepfather, Mary Sutherland has become engaged to Hosmer Angel. On the morning of their wedding Hosmer elicits a promise that Mary will remain faithful to him “even if something quite unforeseen” occurs, then mysteriously disappears en route to the church. Holmes deduces that Hosmer was Mary’s stepfather in disguise, the charade a bid to keep Mary a spinster and thus maintain access to her inheritance. Holmes does not reveal the truth to Mary because “There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman”; he had already advised her to put the matter behind her, though she responded that Hosmer “shall find me ready when he comes back.” At the end, Mary’s stepfather escapes and Sherlock Holmes predicts he will commit more crimes.
“The Boscombe Valley Mystery” October 1891
Inspector Lestrade asks for Holmes’s help after Charles McCarthy is murdered, and his son, James, is implicated. McCarthy, and another local landowner, John Turner, are both Australian expatriates, and Lestrade was originally engaged by Turner’s daughter, Alice, who believes James is innocent. Holmes interviews James, and then inspects the scene of the murder, deducing a third man was present. Realising Holmes has solved the case, Turner confesses to the crime, revealing that McCarthy was blackmailing him due to Turner’s criminal past. Holmes does not reveal the crime, but secures James’s release because of the presence of a third person at the crime scene.
“The Five Orange Pips” November 1891
John Openshaw tells Holmes that in 1883 his uncle died two months after receiving a letter inscribed “K.K.K.” with five orange pips enclosed, and that in 1885 his father died soon after receiving a similar letter; now Openshaw himself has received such a letter. Holmes tells him to do as the letter asks and leave a diary page, which Holmes deduces is connected to the Ku Klux Klan, on the garden sundial. Openshaw is killed before he can do so, but Holmes discovers the killers have been travelling on a sailing ship, and sends the captain a letter with five orange pips. The ship is lost at sea.
“The Man with the Twisted Lip” December 1891
Neville St. Clair, a respectable businessman, has disappeared and his wife claims she saw him at the upper window of an opium den. Rushing upstairs to the room she found only a beggar who denied any knowledge of St. Clair – whose clothes are later found in the room, and his coat, laden with coins, in the River Thames outside the window. The beggar is arrested, but a few days later St. Clair’s wife receives a letter from her husband. Holmes concludes, then proves, that the beggar is actually St. Clair in disguise; he confesses that he has been leading a double life as a beggar, making more money that way than in his nominal work.
“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” January 1892
A “Blue Carbuncle” is stolen from a hotel suite, and a former felon is soon arrested. However, an acquaintance of Holmes discovers the carbuncle in the throat of a Christmas goose. Holmes traces the owner of the goose, but soon determines that he was not the thief by offering him a replacement goose. The detective continues his search, first to an inn and then a dealer in Covent Garden. The dealer refuses to provide Holmes with information about the source of the goose, but Holmes observes another man trying to find the same information, and confronts him. The man, the head attendant at the hotel, confesses to his crime. Holmes allows him to remain free, arguing that prison could make him a hardened criminal later.
“The Adventure of the Speckled Band” February 1892
Helen Stoner worries her stepfather may be trying to kill her after he contrives to move her to the bedroom where her sister had died two years earlier, shortly before her wedding. Stoner is herself now engaged, and Holmes learns that her stepfather’s annuity (from the estate of his wife—Stoner’s mother) would be greatly reduced if either sister married. During a late-night investigation of the bedroom, Holmes and Watson discover a dummy bell-pull near a ventilator. As they lie in wait a whistle sounds, then a snake appears through the ventilator. Holmes attacks the snake with his riding crop; it retreats to the next room, where it attacks and kills Stoner’s stepfather.
“The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb” March 1892
An engineer, Victor Hatherley, attends Dr Watson’s surgery after his thumb is chopped off, and recounts his tale to Watson and Holmes. Hatherley had been hired for 50 guineas to repair a machine he was told compressed Fuller’s earth into bricks. Hatherley was told to keep the job confidential, and was transported to the job in a carriage with frosted glass, to keep the location secret. He was shown the press, but on closer inspection discovered a “crust of metallic deposit” on the press, and he suspected it was not being used for compressing Fuller’s earth. He confronted his employer, who attacked him, and during his escape his thumb is chopped off. Holmes deduces that the press is being used to produce counterfeit coins, and works out its location. However, when they arrive, the house is on fire, and the criminals have escaped.
“The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor” April 1892
Lord Robert St. Simon’s new American bride, Hatty Doran, has disappeared almost immediately after the wedding. The servants had prevented an old love interest of his from forcing her way into the wedding breakfast, Hatty had been seen in whispered conversation with her maid, and Inspector Lestrade arrives with the news that Hatty’s wedding dress and ring have been found floating in the Serpentine. Holmes quickly solves the mystery, locating Hatty at a hotel with a mysterious, “common-looking” man who had picked up her dropped bouquet after the ceremony. The man turns out to be Hatty’s husband Frank, whom she had thought dead in America, and who had managed to locate her only moments before she was to marry Lord St. Simon. Frank and Hatty had just determined to go to Lord St. Simon in order to explain the situation when Holmes found them.
“The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet” May 1892
A banker asks Holmes to investigate after a “Beryl Coronet” entrusted to him is damaged at his home. Awakened by noise, he had found his son, Arthur, holding the damaged coronet. Arthur refuses to speak, neither admitting guilt nor explaining himself. Footprints in the snow outside the house tell Holmes that the banker’s niece had conspired with a blackguard to steal the coronet; Arthur had discovered the crime in progress and the coronet had been damaged during his struggle to prevent it being stolen. He had refused to tell his father the truth of the crime because of his love for his cousin.
“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” June 1892
Violet Hunter consults Holmes after being offered a governess job subject to a number of unusual conditions, including cutting her hair short. The wage is extremely high, £120, and she decides to accept the job, though Holmes tells her to contact him if she needs to. After a number of strange occurrences, including the discovery of a sealed-off wing of the house, she does so. Holmes discovers that someone had been kept prisoner in the wing, but when Holmes, Watson and Hunter enter, it is empty. They are accused of freeing the prisoner, who was the daughter of Hunter’s employer, who sets his dog on them, though it attacks him instead. It is revealed that Hunter had been hired to impersonate her employer’s daughter so that her fiancé would believe she was no longer interested in seeing him, but the daughter had escaped and the pair later married.
I remembered the gist of almost all the stories from my read in 2009, so this wasn’t a taut read. More comfortable really. Like putting on a pair of old slippers.