The Novels and Stories of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

January seems to be mystery month for me. And not only that, Sherlock returns. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one looking forward to third season. So, in honour of the great detective and his return, lets talk about the stories. A few summers ago I read them all.

There are the well known ones: The Hound of the Baskervilles, Scandal in Bohemia, The Final Problem (season two in fact). And while I enjoyed them all, and enjoyed the short story format, one of the novels, The Valley of Fear, sort of blew me away. It was very vivid in my mind as I read. It was intense and suspenseful; there was truly as feeling of evil that must be overcome. And, not being (as) well known, it was a total surprise to me.

Sherlock Holmes is so very well known as a character he has become almost a caricature in some places (not Sherlock, thank goodness). So I think it is very refreshing to get back to the written word, the original stories and discover this eccentric, dogged, relentless, sometimes infuriating, detective. Holmes is the original flawed detective and I think that is what he really has going for him. He has a brilliant mind but he still needs other people, and we enjoy not just his successes but his interactions as follow his development as a human being keenly. The stories are really quite redeeming, for in the end, it really isn’t about proving his abilities, it is about using his abilities for others.

And of course, we can’t forget Watson, because of course, it is through his perspective and his words that we see and learn everything. Without him there is no Sherlock Holmes.

I should note that the collected stories and novels that I have come in two volumes. The Valley of Fear is in the second volume, along with The Hound of the Baskervilles and His Last Bow and Casebook, but it is in rather poor shape. I picked it up second hand and just now has broken into two pieces in my hand (time for some tape!). The first volume, containing A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four, among short story Adventures, Memoirs, and Return of Sherlock Holmes, is in much better shape. I owned the first volume for years before I actually read it. I got it as a gift and quite ungratefully didn’t really pay it attention, although I should confess that I tried to read it a little starting with A Study in Scarlet and found it quite tough going at the time (I think I was in high school). I am so glad though that I did get it as a gift and that I gave it a second try or I might never have gotten into them!

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