Madeleine27's Reviews > The Complete Sherlock Holmes

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Mar 15, 12

bookshelves: mystery, classics, doorstoppers, holmes
Read from February 17 to March 14, 2012

The best versions of this books are those that include the original (and approved by the author) illustrations, which add a lot to the experience. I recommend the Collector's Library Omnibus Edition, if you can find it now.

As for the stories themselves, they are classics for a reason. They are not proper mysteries in the modern sense, since the reader doesn't get all the clues needed to solve the problem before the detective explains it. Of course, not having to follow such rules also allows for more variety and suspence in this case. Holmes gets to investigate everything form murder and abduction, to jewel theft and fraud, with some non-criminal scandals in between. There are also a few spy stories thrown in. And almost every time he manages to solve the case by observing all the details everyone else misses, and considering every possibility, even if it makes people wonder if they should be getting him into the asylum instead of asking him to help. Between cases, he spends his time keeping records on every crime and criminal in England, studying every subject which might help in an investigation and getting to know every person in London who can give him behind-the-scenes information when he needs it. In each story, the reader is shown every step he takes in the investigation, and once in a while might guess the solution by the steps Holmes takes. This, and the fact that Holmes is good at giving very logical explanations of how he deduced something is what makes him and his methods belieavable. In fact, the police of that time picked up a few tricks straight from these books and the author used the methods he wrote about and solved a couple of real crimes on his own.

Apart from that, there are plenty of the action scenes and human drama one can find in the crime genre, even if they aren't what made the books so famous. The main characters are also great. Sherlock Holmes is a perfect gentleman with a strong sense of justice on the outside, but is also quirky, snarky, unsociable and a bit of a jerk. He is fun to read about and the occassional moment where he shows he has a good heart deep down are quite touching. Watson is a good sidekick who worships the ground Holmes walks on, helps with the fights and the legwork, once in a while has to do an investigation on his own and mostly fails, asks all the questions the reader wants to ask and is also the narrator of the stories. And there are the other characters like Mycroft, Moriarty and Irene Adler, although they don't appear as much as adaptations would lead you to believe. All around, there is enough to keep the casual reader interested in reading 60 stories of one detective.

There are four novels and five short story collections, which is 9 books and 60 stories. The series starts with the first novel "A Study in Scarlet". It's not as good as later stories, since the story is simple, half the book is the criminal's backstory is the Wild West and we don't get any explanations until after that. It is only an introduction to Holmes and his methods, and the story of how he and Watson met, and the impatient reader should start with the stories in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes collection or with The Hound of Baskervilles. Otherwise, the order I would recommend is:

A Study in Scarlet
The Sign of the Four
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Valley of Fear
The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes
The Return of Sherlock Holmes
The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes
His Last Bow
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