“A Scandal in Montreal” — Edward Hoch

Edward D. Hoch’s work has been named a winner of both the Edgar Award and the Anthony Award, and he was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. He was known for his prodigious short story output, which, at the time of his death in 2008, numbered more than 900, many of which chronicled the adventures of Dr. Sam Hawthorne, Captain Leopold, or Nick Velvet. In addition to this story, which appeared in one of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’s annual Sherlock Holmes tribute issues, he has also written about a dozen other Holmes stories.

Once readers fall in love with a character, they can’t help wanting to know what happens to that character next. Conan Doyle twice attempted to retire Sherlock Holmes, once, dramatically, at Reichenbach Falls, and then again in a more sedate fashion, when he imagined Holmes easing into a well-deserved retirement as a beekeeper in Sussex. Readers famously rebelled against the first retirement, and many still aren’t satisfied with the second. Could a man as single-minded and dynamic as Sherlock Holmes ever really retire? Surely a case must come his way every now and then. And what about Irene Adler, the woman who outwitted Holmes, the only woman he regards as his equal, the woman, as he calls her. Surely their paths must cross again. What happens next? We always want to know. In this next tale we see some familiar characters many years later, when they’re older and their troubles are those particular to the more mature crowd—errant offspring, nostalgia, regret. It’s always strange when you haven’t seen someone in many years and then you meet them again. Sometimes you’ve both changed completely, and other times you find that you’re both just the same as you’ve always been.