However, the collection also includes several stories which are already getting a bit formulaic - the country house with the Awful Family Secret ("The Speckled Band" being the best), the disrupted wedding (the best of these is "A Case of Identity", not the over-rated "Scandal in Bohemia"). I can already sense why Doyle wanted to kill Holmes off.
Following my remarks about drugs in The Sign of Four, I note that Watson does indeed find Holmes in an opium den looking for "The Man with the Twisted Lip" (which is actually a rather weak story - the alert reader will work out where the man is long before Holmes does). But both Holmes and Watson agree that opium is worse than cocaine. Certainly opium use had a strong social and racial stigma, which Doyle does not challenge; indeed, in general these twelve stories are much less subversive than the two first novels, and were correspondingly more successful, though this reader is a bit disappointed.
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