I remember reading various Sherlock Holmes tales when I was a child and I had fond memories of the stories. I was not very interested in the genre of...moreI remember reading various Sherlock Holmes tales when I was a child and I had fond memories of the stories. I was not very interested in the genre of "mystery" as a child and the same is true now, except for Doyle's work. As an adult, though, I have never delved deeply into the material, thus I went to my local books store and picked up the complete works in an inexpensive leather bound edition. Now anyone who is a bibliophile will know that those "leather" editions they make of the classics in the major chain stores are nothing compared to a hand bound leather book. However, for a relatively low price this is a beautiful edition to pick up, as it only cost me twenty dollars. For over eleven hundred pages worth of stories, I would say that's quite a bargain.
The complete works appears to be quite a daunting task. And it is, I am not a fast reader and it took me months to finish this. Doyle's material feels so much fuller to read as an adult than as a child. So if you ever grew up with the Young Adult versions of any of Doyle's then I highly recommend you delve into the full text. The stories have a much fuller feel than the ones I remember as a child. It is interesting to reflect that one of my favorites when I was younger was "The Hound of the Baskerville's". Upon reading the story in full, I found I didn't like it as much. In fact I wasn't as taken by Doyle's full novels very much. I think he sets them up in a strange way from what I'm used to. Basically each novel is setup into two parts. The first part has Sherlock trying to solve some mystery. By the end of this first section you usually find the culprit, but the second section is all the background past of the culprit. It's an interesting setup, but I found my interest wane without having Sherlock around. This is unfortunate, because the stories weren't bad, but they weren't what I wanted. At least that's the best I can explain.
For me Doyle shined in the form of short stories. These were by far my favorite throughout the book and I simply couldn't get enough of them. Based on the fact that Doyle kept having to revive the Holmes character throughout his writing career, it would appear the general public was little different from myself. It's interesting to read these late 19th century stories and see them discuss things like science and realize how far things have come. For example it is constantly remarked that the size of ones head would determine a person's intelligence. This is totally false, but clearly seemed logical back then. In the 21st century it does wind up sounding quite amusing. One thing I must commend Doyle for is keeping superstitious nonsense or religious explanations out of any of the solutions. I think that's one of the reasons I liked a lot of the stories, they try to stick to logic and scientific reasoning (minus the ape serum story). It actually makes me wonder how much influence this type of work had on things like CSI.
There is one flaw with this particular edition of the book. I found the editing to be extremely lazy. Now, I don't expect to get an eleven hundred page book and have it be typo free. Usually I'll come across one or two in any book I have. However, the nature of the typos in this edition, I feel, are quite inexcusable. For example when reading certain sections I will find the word "let". But that is not what is printed. Instead the symbol for British Pounds currency is displayed followed by the letter "t". This British Pounds symbol showed up numerous times, and not just in "let". The first time it was merely comical, the next four were quite annoying. These aren't the only typos I found and the typos are more numerous towards the end of the book. It is as if the book was edited for the first half only. I wouldn't say it was the worst editing I've ever seen, but it was frustrating whenever I ran into the problems, and no one likes their reading disrupted.
Despite the typos, I still love this book. I like the edition and the attempt at an old world publication aesthetic. I think this really adds to the atmosphere of the text and its setting. Overall, I would recommend this edition, but beware of some frustrating typos here and there. They are decently easy to get over, since the content is so superb. (less)