In the final, and most intense, episode of Sherlock, the consulting detective takes on expert blackmailer, Charles Augustus Magnusson. Based on two Arthur Conan Doyle stories, The Adventures of Charles Augustus Milverton and His Last Bow, we see Sherlock deep undercover, a harder side of John Watson and discover the shocking truth about his new wife, all set within the intriguing world of politics and media.
Detective Jerome Caminada didn’t come across any blackmailers, but he did track high profile suspects, both at home and aboard, whilst undercover on covert government missions. In the second volume of his memoirs, he divulged that for almost three decades, he had shadowed ‘suspicious persons’, infiltrated secret societies and decoded messages written in cipher. One such case was that of spy, Edmund Holden, a former army quartermaster who sold military plans to the French. Caminada was instructed by the Home Office to arrest him, which he did as Holden was on his way to meet his contact in Paris.
Throughout the 1880s, Detective Caminada investigated Fenian suspects, during the dynamite conspiracy. His undercover operations took him to France, Ireland, Germany and the United States, all on the orders of the British government (see telegram above). In 1889, he arrested fugitive politician, William O’Brien MP, who had escaped from a police court in Ireland, where he was being held on charges of conspiracy. When O’Brien turned up in Manchester to address his supporters, Caminada was waiting for him.
Throughout his adventures, Detective Caminada was regularly beaten and assaulted, but never shot, although he came close to it a few times. At the end of the TV adaptation, Sherlock is sent undercover to Eastern Europe to avoid imprisonment. In The Last Bow, it is revealed that Sherlock has retired from active detective work and settled with bees and books in the South Downs. In real life, Detective Caminada retired from the police force in 1899 but his ‘life of crowded adventure’, as alluded to in the Daily Mail, continued unabated. As well as becoming a city councillor, his world merged even more closely with that of his fictional counterpart, when Caminada became a private consulting detective.