A young gambler is found shot dead in a closed room. Dr. Watson, who still mourns the disappearance of his famous friend is intrigued enough to step out of his house and take a look at the crime scene. A crowd has gathered there, curiously gazing up at the room where the crime is supposed to have taken place. Watson inadvertently jostles against an elderly, deformed man and knocks a stack of books from the fellow's hand. The man curses Watson vilely and disappears into the throng. It suddenly occurs to Watson that one of the books that he had helped the stranger pick up had seemed familiar... Thus begins the first thrilling story, The Adventure of the Empty House, in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which was published after what Holmes enthusiasts call the Great Hiatus. The Return of Sherlock Holmes was published in 1905. In 1891, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was completely exasperated by the seemingly endless appetite of readers who welcomed each new Sherlock Holmes story with the greatest delight. He wrote to his mother confessing that he was “thinking of slaying Holmes... He takes my mind from better things.” His mother's famous reply, “You won't, you can't, you mustn't!” only echoed the voice of his readers. However, in 1893, Conan Doyle did the unthinkable; he finished off Holmes in the Reichenbach Falls in The Final Problem and thought he had done with the man for good. He hadn't reckoned with his readers. There was a flood of protest. Letters to the editors of newspapers, a stream of mail to his publishers and himself, all demanding that Holmes be kept alive. Finally, he gave in and The Return of Sherlock Holmes was greeted with huge delight. Though The Hound of the Baskervilles came out in 1902, it was set in a time before Holmes' “death.”
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