Why did Arthur Conan Doyle choose the
Falls in Switzerland for Sherlock Holmes’s
fateful clash with Professor Moriarty? Was it purely as a result of his personal
visit there or were there other reasons?
If Conan Doyle had wanted Holmes truly and irrevocably dead he could easily have had him shot, stabbed or killed any other number of ways. However he chose to do it he could have had a detailed written description of the body of Holmes being found by Watson or others and the detective would have been truly dead.
If it had to be a waterfall, or some other form of aquatic death, why not take Holmes to
Scotland where there are a few
waterfalls of sufficient height, and lochs of sufficient depth, to “lose” Holmes?
I maintain that it was always Conan Doyle’s intention to keep alive the possibility of resurrecting Sherlock Holmes. He delivered a truly ambiguous scenario expressly for the purpose of allowing himself the resurrection option. He knew all too well the popularity of Holmes and the money he brought in. Conan Doyle was fiscally responsible to a fault in his early years and knew that he could not guarantee that his other writing would bring in the same kind of money.
Make no mistake, Holmes would have stayed dead if the money had been sufficient from Conan Doyle’s other work. However, the resurrection option had to be there in a kind of “in emergency - break glass” way. A “death” at a waterfall was probably the best way to have belief in the actual death be possible without a body being found.
By why abroad? It is true that Conan Doyle had visited the Falls and could therefore write about them with authority and this probably accounts for the location. An added bonus would have been that taking Holmes out of his London comfort zone and into a country where his contacts were less established had the effect of making him more vulnerable in the eyes of his readers and hence his death more believable.
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