A Scandal in Bohemia

Book Summary

A Scandal in Bohemia

*The article contains spoilers from the book.

This book is a story recollection of multiple stories of Sherlock Holmes from the point of view of Dr. John Watson. (Whom had married in Conan Doyle’s second sherlock holmes novel, The Sign of Four)


The beginning of the story is A Scandal in Bohemia.

The first short story and third overall work to feature Sherlock Holmes, the fictitious detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle, is “A Scandal in Bohemia.” It is the first of Doyle’s 56 Holmes short stories and Sidney Paget’s 38 illustrations of Sherlock Holmes adventures. The story is also noteworthy for introducing Irene Adler, who despite only appearing in one story, is one of the most prominent female characters in the Sherlock Holmes series. Doyle has placed “A Scandal in Bohemia” fifth on his list of his twelve favorite Holmes tales.


After our narrator Dr. Watson gets married to Mary Morstan, he settles in with his wife and just doesn’t get to see his friend Holmes as often, as Holmes continues to live in their old place in Baker street and continues to work on cases of drugs to criminal ones depending on the situation.

One day as Watson crosses by his old apartment one evening on his walk back from his medical practice, he decides to meet with his old buddy Sherlock Holmes.

The two joke around about Holmes’ deductive abilities when he asks Watson if he remembers the number of stairs leading up to 221B Baker Street, which Watson admits he does not. Proof that while he sees everything that Holmes does, he fails to observe them the same way.

A new client arrives to meet holmes today, and after fruitlessly trying to hide away his identity for about two seconds, he comes clean about who he is Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Feldstein and the hereditary King of Bohemia. (Bohemia is now a part of the modern-day Czech Republic).

His problem is that he is soon to marry the daughter of the king of Scandinavia, but the thing is that she is from a family that harbors incredibly strict morals, so if she were to ever learn about his actual serious affair with another woman before, she wouldn’t marry him.

The woman he had an affair with is Irene Adler, who Holmes often refers to as The Woman in his memory. She’s a singer, and she and the king met; they subsequently had a bit of a fling. But the main problem is that the king had allowed himself to be photographed with Adler, and she has the picture.

So he wants Sherlock Holmes to recover the picture, to which he agrees.

Holmes puts on a disguise of a priest and goes to Adler’s new home in London to hopefully get some information, and he learns about her frequent calls to a lawyer named Godfrey Norton.

Holmes happens to be on the scene when she rushes out of her house to go meet Norton, and coincidentally Holmes is also called upon to be witnessed in their marriage while still in disguise.

After the surprise, Adler returns to her home, and Holmes realizes that he has to hurry up to find the picture before Adler has a chance to leave with her brand new husband.

Holmes comes up with a perfect strategy to get the photo; he now disguises himself as a clergyman, stages a fake riot right outside of her house, and pretends to be injured.

As Holmes, in disguise, is carried to Alder’s living room for treatment, Watson is outside and throws a smoke bomb into her house through the open living room window.

Through the commotion, in a moment’s panic, Adler runs for a secret compartment in her house for safety, where Holmes deducts the photo. So he leaves Alder’s home, with Watson right behind him, together they wind back up to now Holmes’s apartment complex, and as Holmes searches for his keys, an unknown, cheerful voice of a boy greets him by his name, with a ‘good morning.

The next morning Holmes and Watson are waiting for the King of Bohemia to show up; as soon as he does, the three of them head over to Adler’s house, and to their surprise, there is an elderly woman who is expecting them.

The elderly woman handed them Alder’s letter, which was addressed to none other than Sherlock Holmes himself.

The contents of the letter explain that Adler herself had actually already been warned of Holmes coming after her trail, but even then, she did not recognize him immediately as he was disguised as such a kind-looking priest, but she had guessed that it was holmes because of the fake smoke bomb, and she had then proceeded to confirm his identity when she had dressed as a boy as she had been an actress before, and she had followed him to his home, while even greeting him by his name.

Adler then proceeds to explain that she is keeping the photos as only collateral against the said king of Bohemia if he were ever to go and ruin her reputation.

But for now, she is happy to just live with her new, worthier husband, and she considers that this matter is hereby ended.

The king is satisfied with the ending, even though Holmes apologizes for failing to retrieve the picture as he was supposed to.

Holmes then surprises the King by asking if he could keep the alone photo of Alder, which was accompanied by the letter; the king agrees.


Watson ends the story with the note that Holmes used to joke about women’s intelligence, but he hasn’t been cracking quite the same lately, as Alder, for Holmes would always be the ultimate woman.

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Get Notified For Latest Book Summaries

Be the first one to know all the latest book reviews, summaries, and guides. 

On Key

Related Posts

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince is the second book in Cassandra Clare’s “The Infernal Devices” trilogy.   The book starts with Tessa Gray still living in the London