Greg's Reviews > The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
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M 50x66
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Sep 29, 2008

it was amazing

Listened to this one on Librivox audio recording (it's public domain now, since it was published before 1923). The book is really a collection of twelve short stories that Doyle wrote for a magazine. It's just a plain fun read - quick stories, occasional action sequences, easy reading material.

The plot is pretty straightforward: Sherlock Holmes is a clever and somewhat eccentric man who runs his own detective agency in London. He takes in cases which strike his curiosity and uses his brilliant powers of deduction to outwit everyone and arrive at the only proper conclusion. Accompanying him is Dr. Watson, his close friend, who has taken it upon himself to be Holmes' biographer, and is thus the narrator of each story (which incidentally Holmes takes some offense to, as Watson plays up Holmes-the-man while Holmes would prefer the focus to be on the logic of each case). Each story runs roughly the same course: a case is presented to Holmes, Watson accompanies him on some clue-gathering exercises or interviews with witnesses, and then Holmes arrives at his conclusion which undoubtedly surprises and shocks his observers.

Of course Doyle spices it up a bit by throwing in some extra characters (Holmes has a brother, there's another bumbling police investigator who gets in the way, Holmes even has a bit of a romantic interest at one point). Throughout the book readers get a nice glimpse into the characters Holmes and Watson - Holmes as a very intellectual man, skilled in both the arts and sciences, educating Watson in his methods as he solves crimes, and a drug addict to boot. Watson has his own past too, and though it isn't nearly so interesting, it makes him so very regular that you can't help but like him. There were some laugh out loud moments as I heard this story, particularly Watson's 'scientific assessment' of Holmes's skills and knowledge I thought was pretty funny.

The entire point of the book, of course, is the focus on Holmes' deductions. They're brilliant - at times seemingly TOO brilliant, because in a couple of cases Holmes pulls clues out at the last minute to draw his conclusions, and so the reader doesn't get a chance to try to figure it out for themselves. But in the stories where there is enough information to guess at the conclusion, it's an enjoyable exercise to try to work out the ending before the big reveal. I only got it right once, but it made me feel pretty clever. : ) Holmes's cases range over a wide variety of subjects - murders, thefts, missing persons, and a lost goose. Every story is pulled along by the mystery, though sometimes the action gets a little tense.

If you're looking for a book to help you understand the deeper meaning of life and unlock the mysteries of the Universe, look elsewhere. If you want an excellent collection of easily digestible stories, give Sherlock Holmes a shot. Highly recommended.
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