The Empty House
Sherlock Holmes returns from the dead! Three years earlier, Dr. Watson saw evidence suggesting that Sherlock and Prof. Moriarty had fallen to the deaths from atop Reichenbach Falls. An old book peddler shows up at his medical office one day, Dr. Watson turns away for a few seconds, and when turns back around there is his old friend. An empty house across the street from 221B on Baker Street appears to be the perfect spot from which Moriarty can gain revenge from his actual place in the grave. Until Watson and Holmes stop his lieutenant Sebastian Moran, that is.
The Norwood Builder
A revenge fantasy involves an old man faking his death so he can pin it on the son of the woman who rejected him many decades earlier. A little digging into the embers of a fire and the financial records of the “dead” man soon has Sherlock shouting fire in a crowded house.
The Dancing Men
A young woman from Chicago is near death, the victim of a gunshot. Her older husband is dead. The only clues are coded messages in the form of peculiar stick drawings that appear to be dancing left furtively on the man’s country estate. Holmes has broken the code, but can he prevent a vicious Chicago criminal from taking what he believes is rightly his?
The Solitary Cyclist
Why does a threatening figure with a beard keep interrupting Violet Smith’s bicycle ride? Even stranger, why he back off when she turns around and starts biking directly toward him? Is he the devil’s messenger or a guardian angel?
The Priory School
The ten year old son of a very wealthy and influential man has suddenly disappeared from his exclusive prep school. The boy’s German teacher also disappears, but is quickly found dead. Was it the work of local Gypsies? Or perhaps someone much, much closer to the family?
The Black Peter
How often is a detective called upon to investigate death by harpoon and never even get the water, much less a boat? A distinctly unpleasant man is found dead with a harpoon sticking out of his body in a landlubber’s cabin. The trail of clues will eventually lead to a boat named the Sea Unicorn, but this sea drama is a dry as the tobacco pouch that is an essential clue.
Charles Augustus Milverton
The title character is the ultimate blackmailer and, what’s worse, believes that since his victims are themselves morally repugnant, standard conventions of morality do not apply to his criminal offenses against him. Holmes is so repulsed by Milverton that after watching the man murdered by one of his victims, he invokes his own moral philosophy by allowing her to get away with it.
The Six Napoleons
The titular emperors are actually just plaster busts and all signs point to their destruction being the work of a mentally disturbed immigrant. Holmes suspects the madness of the destruction is a cover for something far more rational and calculated. Needless to say, Holmes is correct.
The Three Students
In a plot somewhat reminiscent of “The Naval Treaty” a college instructor makes the mistake of leaving important papers briefly unattended. Holmes is called upon to determine which one of the title characters is cheater who took advantage of that opportunity afforded by the absent professor.
The Golden Pince-Nez
Another tale of avenging an old betrayal is combined with the collection’s second suspect who will spend much of the story in a secret hiding place where Holmes and Watson have interrogated suspects before.
The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter
Holmes is called in to investigate the disappearance of Godfrey Staunton. Holmes has been asked to locate many missing things in which the political stability of Europe has hung in the balance, but this time something truly monumental is dependent upon Holmes solving the case: Cambridge will almost certainly lose an important ruby match to Oxford is key player Staunton is not found before the game.
The Abbey Grange
Another dead husband. Another wounded wife. Another mysterious third party. But there is nothing like “The Dancing Men.” The husband was beast and the mystery man is not American thug, but one of the straightest arrows Holmes has ever come across.
The Second Stain
Speaking of finding lost items on which the balance of peace in Europe hangs, Holmes is tasked with locating a high sensitive state document misplaced by yet another careless young man. Of which there seem to be more in the employment of the British government that should be allowed. What’s worse: Holmes is also eventually tasked with leaning heavily on the young man’s own wife in order to produce the document. The explanation for the whereabouts of the document defy belief, but everybody is too grateful to have it back to care.