The story takes place three years after the supposed death of Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls, Mr. Ronald Adair, son of the Earl of Maynooth, a high colonial official in Australia is found murdered. The authorities, not to mention the man's family, are perplexed by the case: it seems that the Honourable Ronald Adair had not an enemy in the world. He was in his sitting room, with a window open, working on accounts of some kind, as indicated by the papers and money found by police. Ronald liked playing whist and regularly did so at several clubs, but never for great sums of money. It does, however, come out that he won as much as £420 in partnership with a Colonel Moran.
Ronald's door was locked from the inside. The only other way out was the window, and there was a 20-foot (about 6m) drop below it onto a flower bed, which now shows no sign of being disturbed yet he was killed with a Soft-point bullet to the back of his head. No one heard a shot and the police cannot know where it was fired from.
Doctor Watson, having retained an interest in crime from his adventures with Holmes, visits the crime scene and sees a plainclothes detective there with police, and also runs into an elderly Deformity deformed book collector, knocking several of his books to the ground. The encounter ends with the man snarling in anger and going away, but that is not the last that Watson sees of him, for a short time later, the man comes to Watson's study to apologize for his earlier behaviour. Once he manages to distract Watson's attention for a few seconds (making Watson turn to his bookshelf to see if there is enough room to fit some books), he shows himself to be Sherlock Holmes, much to Watson's great astonishment. Watson faints and Holmes help him up, Watson is overjoyed that Holmes is alive and tells him to explain how he alive. with the help of baritsu, Holmes won against Professor Moriarty, flinging him down the waterfall and then he climbed up the cliff beside the path to make it appear as though he, too, had perished. This was a plan that Holmes had just conceived to defend against Moriarty's confederates. However, at least one of them knew that he was still alive and tried to kill him by throwing rocks at him but Holmes was lucky and ran for his life.
He thens explains that he spent the next three years travelling to various parts of the world. Holmes says that initially, he travelled to Florence. From there, Holmes travelled to Tibet and wandered for two years, even attaining entry to Lhassa. Afterward, Holmes travelled Anonymity|incognito as a Norwegian explorer named Sigerson. Then, he went to Persia, with Holmes entering Mecca and then to a brief stopover in Khartoum. Finally, before returning, Holmes spent time doing chemical research on coal tar derivatives in France with his brother Mycroft. until finally, Holmes was brought back to England by news of the Adair murder.