Watson writes: “When I look at the three manuscript volumes which contain our work for the year 1894 . . .” Clearly the business has become more of a joint venture now that Watson devotes his full-time energies to it. They must both now live off the proceeds because Watson no longer has his medical practice. It’s an interesting quote because Watson certainly wouldn’t have referred to it as “our work” in the early days of their union. We also hear that Holmes won an autographed letter of thanks from the French President and the Order of the Legion of Honour. Wow, impressive stuff. Business has improved greatly now that Watson is back at 221B.
Hopkins appears again in this story, the young detective in which Holmes has great hope for the future. He freely admits to Holmes that he can’t make “Neither head nor tail” of the murder of Professor Coram’s secretary Mr Willoughby Smith at Yoxley Old Place. A golden pince-nez was found in the hand of the dead man and Holmes does his usual startling piece of analysis describing perfectly the features of the woman who was wearing them. Another apparently innocuous inanimate object also yields a massive clue when Holmes works out that without her pince-nez the lady would have become confused by the cocanut (sic) matting and lost her way, following it into the professor’s bedroom. Therefore he must be hiding her.
By smoking heavily and dropping lots of ash near the suspected hiding place, Holmes was able to return to the room and see that the ash had been disturbed as the person came out from their hiding place behind the bookcase.
It turns out that the professor is not English, but Russian, and the woman is his estranged wife. Yet again, mistakes of the past come back to haunt, but this time an innocent young man was the victim as the professor’s wife accidentally stabbed him when he caught her trying to take things from the bureau.
An interesting story, but a rather sad conclusion as the woman takes her own life. In the Granada episode, the professor is murdered in the end by a member of the Russian brotherhood who he wronged, but in the original he is the only one who survives.
I think I prefer the TV ending as this one feels a little incomplete to me. For that reason it’s a 6 out of 10.