Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review:The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Book Description:
Unmatched in both astounding deductive skills and bravado, Sherlock Holmes is quite rightly the most beloved and famed detective in literature. Since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first wrote about the master sleuth over a century ago, Holmes has been amazing and intriguing readers young and old with his inimitable powers of observation.
My thoughts:
I have always wanted to read The Adventures and the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever since I watched an old film years ago in my teens.  This is a collection of 23 stories from different cases that Sherlock Holmes had solved. Dr. Watson is his good friend and he is the recorder of the stories.

After getting over my shock that Sherlock Holmes used cocaine to stimulate his brain, I settled in to enjoy the stories. The first few stories really reminded me of Encyclopedia Brown stories by Donald Sobel, except that I didn't have to go to the end of the book to find out the clue.  As each case is being presented Holmes spends quite a bit of time pointing out to Watson all of his observances and then how he came to his deductions. Poor Watson tries so hard throughout the stories to learn to observe everything, but he never can compare to Sherlock Holmes.

One aspect of these stories that I enjoyed is that Holmes didn't always solve the case in time or was outwitted or maybe never totally solved the problem. One thing about his cases is that they were never normal. In the story of "The Speckled Band", Watson starts the story off with these words:
In glancing over my notes of the seventy odd cases in which I have during the last eight years studied the methods of my friend Sherlock Holmes, I find many tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange, but none commonplace; for, working as he did rather for the love of his art than for the acquirement of wealth, he refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic. p. 177
I was also amazed that Professor Moriarty was only mentioned in one story, "The Final Problem." Every film I've every seen (which isn't many) always had him as the chief protagonist. Surprisingly in the same story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes. This did not go over very well with the fans of Sherlock Holmes and they finally persuaded Doyle to bring him back which he did in The Hound of the Baskervilles .

If I had one complaint about reading these stories is the references to A Study in Scarlet. This was Doyle's first book about Sherlock Holmes and is a novel rather than a compilation of stories. I felt I had missed out on something, so I imagine I will have to add it to my never ending TBR list.

Overall, I found these stories filled with interesting plots and subtle humor yet they are very down to earth. I hope to one day read some of the other Sherlock Holmes books. I read this for The Classics Club Challenge hosted by Jillian at A Room's of One's Own.

Here are a few lines I enjoyed:

From the story "A Scandal in Bohemia":
To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex.
p. 5
From "The Red-Headed League":
"What are you going to do, then?" I asked.
"To smoke," he answered. "It is quite a three-pipe problem, and I beg that you won't speak to me for fifty minutes."
p. 65
 From "The Musgrave Ritual":
But with me there is a limit, and when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece, then I begin to give myself virtuous airs. I have always held, too, that pistol practice should distinctly be an open-air pastime; and when Holmes in one of his queer humours would sit in an armchair, with his hair-trigger and a hundred Boxer cartridges, and proceed to adorn the opposite wall with a patriotic V.R. done in bullet-pocks, I felt strongly that neither the atmosphere nor the appearance of our room was improved by it. p.401

I am linking up over at:


  1. This sounds good, I have it on Kindle to read, have always wanted to experience reading Sherlock.

  2. I read this a couple of months ago for the Classics Club, too. A pleasure from start to finish. I remember Watson's quote about Holmes' messy habits too; enjoyed that one a lot.

  3. Cocaine? Really! Hmmmm. This does sound good. I'm reading a Dorothy Sayers mystery now, and I'm enjoying the genre. Maybe I'll pick up Sherlock Holmes sometime!



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