1891, also appears in 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes'
Sherlock Holmes is contacted by the King of Bohemia, who is
seeking his aid in a rather delicate matter; it seems the King was
once in love with a young prima donna named Irene Adler and sent
her some rather saucy letters and a photograph. Now the King is to
be married and he fears that Ms. Adler, as an act of revenge, will
send the photograph to his bride-to-be, thereby ruining the marriage.
Dressed up as a groom, Holmes does some reconnaissance around the
Adler household and comes to the conclusion that the photograph must
be hidden somewhere either in the sitting room or bedroom. Together
with Watson he manages to fake an accident outside
the house, which causes Ms. Adler to have him carried into the sitting
room for a lie down. Watson then tosses a smoke bomb through the
window and yells "Fire!". In the ensuing tumult, Ms. Adler rushes to
the secret compartment where the photograph is hidden, just as Holmes
However, Holmes is unable to recover the photograph immediatly and
is forced to leave the house. In the morning he returns, only to find
that Ms. Adler had gotten suspicious and followed him home while in
disguise. When she discovered who she was up against, she quickly left
the country but left a letter where she vows not to expose the King.
This is the first short story that Doyle
wrote about Holmes, and it is quite a good one. Several mentions are
made of Holmes' cold and machine-like personality and it is stated
explicitly that he is incapable of love, but still seems to have
fallen for Irene Adler, the one woman who outsmarted him. To him, she
is 'the woman'.
We can also note that Holmes is rather disdainful towards the King;
maybe this is because repressed feelings of jealousy (Ms. Adler
was his lover after all), or maybe he questions the
legitimacy of the Kings right to recover the photograph in this
manner (but I that case, why did he accept the mission in the first place?).
As a minor detail, Holmes' landlady is called Mrs. Turner in this
story, while in all others the landlady is Mrs. Hudson. Since a true sherlockian would never admit that
there was an error in the canon it has been speculated that
Mrs. Turner is in fact Mrs. Hudson's sister and is filling in for her
while she is away (or possibly ill).