Sherlockian Shorts – The Adventure of the Six Napoleons

First published 1904, The Adventure of the Six Napoleons is the eighth story in the third collection of short stories, The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

What’s It About?

Lestrade interests Holmes with a tale of a man who seems to be breaking into peoples’ houses to smash plaster busts of Napoleon Bonaparte. Holmes senses there is more to it than a lunatic with a grudge against Bonaparte, and investigates. Before long, another bust is found smashed only this time with a dead body next to it.

Is It A Mystery?

Not in the whodunnit sense, but there is the mystery of why someone is breaking the busts. Although only the basic reasons are guessable – and I imagine you’ve already guessed why – as the majority of the detail is plucked from thin air at the end of the story.

Is It Any Good?

Perfectly fine, but nothing special. An almost perfectly average Holmes story – the sort of thing I expected to find more of when I started these Sherlockian Shorts.

Anything Else?

It’s an idea that I’m sure has been repeated elsewhere – although I can’t put my finger on an example at the moment – but, without spoiling anything, can anyone think of a similar tale where it’s not the last one?

Oh, and according to Wikipedia (so take it with a  pinch of salt) this is the last appearance of Lestrade (although he gets a couple of later mentions). Anyone want to confirm/deny that for me?


  1. The busts containing or not containing something valuable pop up in an Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators book (not sure if you’re familiar – sort of like a nerdier Hardy Boys or more masculine Trixie Belden?), The Mystery of the Fiery Eye. I hadn’t realised that this was the source.


    • I’ve reviewed a couple of Three Investigators books on the blog – the Haunted Mirror and the Magic Circle. The books that got me started on “proper” mysteries. Thanks for the reminder, I must do another one soon.


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