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Official Site: Arthur Conan Doyle
Professor James Moriarty is a fictional character and the archenemy of the detective Sherlock Holmes in the fiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Moriarty is a criminal mastermind, described by Holmes as the "Napoleon of Crime". Doyle lifted the phrase from a real Scotland Yard inspector who was referring to Adam Worth, a real life model for Moriarty. As he is depicted as Holmes' greatest enemy, Moriarty is considered to be the primary antagonist of the entire series.
Professor Moriarty's first appearance and his ultimate end occurred in Doyle's story "The Final Problem", in which Holmes, on the verge of delivering a fatal blow to Moriarty's criminal ring, is forced to flee to the Continent to escape Moriarty's retribution. Moriarty follows, and the two apparently fall to their deaths while locked in mortal combat atop the Reichenbach Falls. During this story, Moriarty is something of a Mafia Godfather; he protects nearly all of the criminals of England in exchange for their obedience and a share in their profits. Holmes, by his own account, was originally led to Moriarty by the suggestion that many of the crimes he perceived were not the spontaneous work of random criminals, but the machinations of a vast and subtle criminal ring.
Moriarty plays a direct role in only one other of Doyle's Holmes stories: The Valley of Fear, which was set before "The Final Problem," but published afterwards. In The Valley of Fear, Holmes attempts to prevent Moriarty's agents from committing a murder. Moriarty does not meet Holmes in this story. In an episode where Moriarty is interviewed by a policeman, a painting by Jean-Baptiste Greuze is described as hanging on the wall; Holmes remarks on another work by the same painter to show it could not have been purchased on a professor's salary. The work referred to is La jeune fille à l'agneau; some commentators have described this as a pun by Doyle upon the name of Thomas Agnew of the gallery Thomas Agnew and Sons, who had a famous painting stolen by Adam Worth, but was unable to prove the fact.
Holmes mentions Moriarty reminiscently in five other stories: "The Empty House" (the immediate sequel to "The Final Problem"), "The Norwood Builder," "The Missing Three-Quarter," "The Illustrious Client,", and "His Last Bow." More obliquely, a 1908 mystery by Doyle, The Lost Special, features a criminal genius who could be Moriarty and a detective who could be Holmes, although neither is mentioned by name.
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