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It's actually only about five years since I last read this collection of Holmes stories. I was struck then by the several incidents of freaks of nature, and also the succession of fiery Latin American ladies, and by the way in which Holmes offers absolution rather than justice; this last point struck me even more forcibly on this reading, as Holmes has moved from being the problem-solver who mocks the establishment of the earliest stories to being a powerful moral force on his own merits. The other important difference is that while the early stories had him as a cutting-edge user of the latest technology, these last stories, set twenty years or more before they were written, now have him as a figure of Victorian nostalgia from a time when the world seemed a more certain place. It's a sad ending.

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