Something I’ve been contimplating ever since I figured out that Moriarty must have kept the shoes. He seems to have kept them because he knew Sherlock knew about them. So does this mean ever since they were kids, Moriarty was waiting for him? Also, did he not do any crimes between killing Carl and the stuff he does to set up the encounters with Sherlock? I wanna believe sherlock would have caught onto those cases if he had. Sorry my question’s not super clear. Character limit, and all.
Jim initially took Carl’s shoes because they were the only solid evidence that Carl had been murdered. Sherlock read about the missing shoes in the paper, and the fact that they were missing made him think Carl’s death may not have been an accident.
Even if the detail about the shoes appeared in the newspaper reports as quickly as possible after Carl’s death and Sherlock went to the police as quickly as possible after reading the article and Jim found out Sherlock was causing trouble as quickly as possible after that, I think we’ve still got to assume that whole process took at least a day. Which means Jim, faced with the options of immediately destroying the evidence or keeping it, had already chosen to hold onto the shoes for at least a little while.
Maybe Jim did decide to keep the shoes forever and ever after he realized Sherlock was interested in them.
Or maybe (and I tend to think this is more likely) Jim kept the shoes because Carl had loved them.
Given all of the parallels with Sherlock and the fact that Carl Powers was Sherlock’s first case, I suspect Carl Powers was Jim’s first murder as well. So Jim may have kept the shoes for years as a trophy. (Rather than because he immediately came up with the idea of saving them to play a game with Sherlock in the event the boy grew up to be a detective.)
As for crimes that happened in-between Carl’s murder and A Study in Pink… Yes, I think Jim had almost certainly been involved in tons of crimes by then. The cabbie described Jim’s reputation (“more than a man,” etc) in a way that makes me think Jim was well-established as a consulting criminal.
Why wouldn’t Sherlock have caught on earlier? Because Moriarty’s good at his job, and Sherlock Holmes never does fully catch on until just before it will lead to an exciting face-off.
From The Final Problem:
"As you are aware, Watson, there is no one who knows the higher criminal world of London so well as I do. For years past I have continually been conscious of some power behind the malefactor, some deep organizing power which forever stands in the way of the law, and throws its shield over the wrong-doer. Again and again in cases of the most varying sorts—forgery cases, robberies, murders—I have felt the presence of this force, and I have deduced its action in many of those undiscovered crimes in which I have not been personally consulted. For years I have endeavored to break through the veil which shrouded it, and at last the time came when I seized my thread and followed it, until it led me, after a thousand cunning windings, to ex-Professor Moriarty of mathematical celebrity."