Thursday, May 13, 2010

Review: Sherlock Holmes: Selected Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes: Selected Stories (Oxford World's Classics)Title: Sherlock Holmes: Selected Stories

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Pages: 435

Source: Personal library

Rating: 10/10

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge

First Sentence: "'I am afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go,' said Holmes, as we sat together to our breakfast one morning."

Summary (From back of book):

No characters in English literature since those in the great Dickens gallery have taken so firm a hold upon the British and American imagination as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. They have indeed been elevated above the level of fiction and into the realm of mythology where the learned and the simple meet on an equal footing.

The present selection draws the best stories from the several Sherlock Holmes volumes, including one of the longer books, The Sign of Four, in its logical place among the other chosen tales: "Silver Blaze," "The Speckled Band," "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Naval Treaty," "The Blue Carbuncle," "The Greek Interpreter," "The Red-Headed League," "The Empty House," "The Missing Three-Quarter," and "His Last Bow."

My Two Cents:

I absolutely love the Sherlock Holmes stories, and have for quite some time. I love how Holmes almost always knows the solution to a mystery from very early on, to the complete surprise of Watson and everyone else. I wish I had his skill for deductive reasoning.

My two favorite stories in this collection, both of which I've read before, are "The Speckled Band," in which Holmes and Watson try to solve the mysterious death of a young woman's sister, and "The Red-Headed League," in which a man joins a mysterious society only to have all trace of the other members disappear suddenly. Both these mysteries have an air of the completely mysterious and unsolvable, and in both Holmes maintains his characteristic calm as he basically tries to find evidence to match his theory.

Doyle's writing is, as always, superb. It's very indicative of the style of writing in 1890s British literature, and it only takes some minor getting used to if you've never read something of his before.

Holmes is, as with everyone else, my favorite character. I wish I knew a Holmes (Well, maybe minus the cocaine and opium use...). He's got a very subtle sense of humor, but it's there, and it shows when necessary. I just love how he's able to tell lots of little details about a person just by looking at articles of clothing or their possessions. In one of the stories, he is able to deduce that a man is down on his luck, uses lime cream in his hair and has a poor servant simply by looking at his hat. If only all detectives were like Holmes, there wouldn't be as many unsolved crimes!

If you like mysteries which start out strange, but make perfect sense once the solution is discovered, or you like reading about late-19th century England, you need to give Sherlock Holmes a try.


Aarti said...

I love Sherlock Holmes stories, too! That's why I'm so ambivalent about watching the movie. I haven't read any in a long time, but maybe I'll get back to them soon!

I have heard many good things about Laurie King's Holmes/Russell series as well. Have you read those?

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