Short Story Review: The Adventure of the Empty House by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventure of the Empty House was one of the short stories included in the collection The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A fantastic and wonderfully engaging short story which sees the resurrection of the world’s most famous detective. 5 / 5


Sherlock Holmes is dead, and in the time since his passing, Dr Watson believes the world has lost one of the greatest crime-solving minds it would ever know.  An interest in crime instilled in him by his friendship with his now deceased friend, Dr Watson wonders if he might not be able to use some of the methods taught to him by Sherlock Holmes to help solve a crime that has piqued his interest: the murder of Ronald Adair, or the Park Lane Mystery…

Favourite Quote

I knew not what wild beast we were about to hunt down in the dark jungle of criminal London, but I was well assured from the bearing of this master huntsman that the adventure was a most grave one, while the sardonic smile which occasionally broke through his ascetic gloom boded little good for the object of our quest.

(From The Adventure of the Empty House by Arthur Conan Doyle)


This is the short story set after Sherlock Holmes supposed death after a struggle with his nemesis Moriaty at the Reichenbach Falls. Arthur Conan Doyle had intended to kill off Sherlock Holmes but public outcry at the loss of such a literary gem forced him to return to writing about the exploits of his consulting detective.

And the transition between the author thinking he had killed him off good and proper and then him still being alive and kicking is a seamless one, and fits so perfectly with the personality of Sherlock Holmes. There’s no doubt he feels a little bit sorry for duping Dr Watson, but he isn’t really sorry for doing so.  He believed it was the right thing to do (for him), and so did it.

As Sherlock Holmes recounts his deception at the Falls and his climb along a dangerous rockface, I felt the tension palpably.  I could also imagine the shock which causes Watson to faint for the only time in his life at seeing his dear departed friend suddenly standing before him in his study, as if an apparition.

I also enjoyed reading about what Sherlock Holmes had been up to for the three years he had been dead.  It’s no surprise, that he travelled the world, met with some very interesting people and conducted research experiences. He is a genius after all.



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