Want to hear some lesser known trivia about Sherlock Holmes? His creator and author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, hated writing about him! Doyle considered his finest work to be his non-fiction writing, and grew tired of writing detective stories about Holmes, so he killed him off!
In the short story, The Final Problem, the last short story in the book The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1, Doyle sent the beloved detective tumbling over a cliff in a fight to the death with his arch nemesis. Much to the author's dismay, Holmes fans were still asking for more. The pubilic outcry was so great that Doyle "resurrected" Sherlock Holmes for three more collections of short stories and one final novel. These are the stories included in this book, The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2.
The return of Sherlock Holmes from the dead was actually very well thought out and believably written. One can easily accept that Holmes really had survived his ordeal in The Final Problem, without the series jumping the shark. Sadly, after that, the series goes downhill.
I didn't enjoy this volume nearly as much as the first. Cases come to abrupt conclusions with Holmes explaining how he caught the culprit, instead of showing the steps Holmes took and allowing the reader some imagination as they follow along and try to solve the mystery alongside of him.
I can't help but conclude that the decrease in qualitly went hand-in-hand with the author's decreased interest in writing.
The one exception to this is the novel, The Valley of Fear, which I found facinating, not so much because of the who done it mystery portion of the novel, but because of the twisting and turning of the background story. Nearly half of the novel is set miles and years away from the investigation of Sherlock Holmes, and instead focuses on the life of the central character with a journey through time that explains the years of danger that lead up to that fateful night of murder.
All in all, I consider the novel to be the redeeming element of this book. True Holmes fans will still want to pick up a copy of the volume so they can follow the story to the end. More casual readers, however, may want to take a pass.