The Adventure of the Final Problem is the last story in the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes collection written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was first published in Strand Magazine in December 1893. In this particular story, which is set in the year 1891, begins with Dr. Watson talking about his relationship with Sherlock Holmes. He mentions how their meetings have become few and far between, until one evening Sherlock Holmes arrives at Dr. Watson’s home in a nervous state of mind. Holmes tells Watson that he knows he is not a nervous man, but he cannot ignore the danger that lingers close by.
Here we are introduced to Holmes next opponent and criminal genius, Professor Moriarty. Sherlock Holmes describes the Professor as the “Napoleon of crime” (544). He states “He [Moriarty] is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city” (544). Holmes even goes as far as to call the Professor an intellectual equal. Soon we learn of an encounter between Holmes and Professor Moriarty. The Professor shows up at Holmes’ office were they proceed to have a verbal interaction discussing how Holmes has been following the Professor. Moriarty warns Sherlock to avoid looking any further into him or his “mighty organization” (546). He threatens Holmes with physical action and “inevitable destruction” (546). Holmes admits that Moriarty left him feeling uneasy, due to his soft and precise fashion of speech.
After telling this to Dr. Watson, Watson asks Holmes if he had already been assaulted by Moriarty, and we learn that Holmes has escaped three different attacks. The first of the attacks occurred when Holmes was on a street corner when he noticed a two-horse van was heading directly toward him, which he was able to escape via a foot-path just off the road. The second attack occurred when Holmes was walking on the street and noticed a brick falling from the rooftop and shattered near his feet. The third attack happened to be a rough looking man carrying a bludgeon. Holmes was able to defend himself, knock the attacker down, and turn him into the police. Though, he was unable to prove there was a connection to the Professor.
Watson decides to travel with Holmes across the continent in order to track down and end the crime spree by Professor Moriarty. While they are making their travels, they learn about the arrests of Moriarty’s gang and Holmes advices Watson to head home and back to his practice for he is now a very dangerous companion. He fears that Moriarty will now devote all his energy into revenging himself upon himself. Watson stays with Holmes despite hearing about the new danger he is in with Moriarty escaping the English police.
While in Switzerland, they are walking along a path when a boy appears and hands Watson a note saying that there is a sick Englishwoman back at the hotel who wants to be seen by an English doctor. Watson quickly heads in the direction of the hotel, leaving Holmes by himself. When Watson reaches the hotel, the innkeeper knows nothing of the note, and Watson soon realizes that it was a fake. He begins to rush back to where he had left Holmes, when he arrives he finds two sets of footprints heading out onto a muddy dead end path, but none of the prints are in the direction of coming back. Watson finds a note from Holmes who explains that he knew the note was a fake and he was about to fight with Moriarty, who had given him these last few minutes to write that particular note to Watson. It was clear they had both fallen to their deaths. Watson returns to England in agony over the loss of his dear friend.
Unless otherwise noted, all textual references refer to "The Final Problem" from the collection: The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.(1)