Kate's Reviews > The Complete Sherlock Holmes

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
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's review
Oct 27, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-i-own, favorites
Read in December, 2006 , read count: way too many to count

** spoiler alert ** The pinnacle of mystery. Right here. Nothing really tops this. Often imitated but never duplicated.

We start off with "A Study in Scarlet" where the recently returned Doctor John Watson is introduced to Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective in search of a flatmate. Watson's curiosity over his new acquaintance leads to Holmes deciding that he'd like him to help him out with his work. It's a thrill for them both (Watson to be involved and Holmes to have a partner who praises him) and you can almost hear them both deciding "yeah we should do this more often" at the end. The mystery was solid, though I could have done without the Mormon stuff at the end, but it was a fantastic introduction to these two. This is just a warm up.

"The Sign of Four" isn't quite as compelling mystery wise but we get an introduction to the cocaine bottle as well as Watson's gaining of a wife. I don't quite get why we're expected to believe that Mary and Watson got on so famously since they really only saw each other a couple of times but, yes. I'm still thinking diversion tactics to conceal a different relationship :P

The mystery is a good one, a bit more complex, but I think it goes on a bit long.

"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" serves to be the best short stories going, or at least among the best. They work far better than the novels do and they're all so very different! Especially in this collection. You have some utterly fantastic stories like "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", "A Scandal in Bohemia", "The Five Orange Pips" and the special addition of "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" where we get a bit more of a peak into Holmes's humanity than ever before.

"The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" hits on the same level as the previous volume but then goes one step beyond it. You have Holmes failing, you have his early cases, and then you have this pounding succession of stories that is "The Resident Patient," "The Greek Interpreter," "The Naval Treaty," and "The Final Problem." That final story is the final punch in the gut and every time I read it my heart hurts. You've seen Holmes become more and more human and real in these pages and more and more of an important person in the world. I can totally understand why some people wore mourning attire when this was published.

"The Return of Sherlock Holmes" opens with a substandard story but it brings Holmes back to us, so we forgive it. The mystery is off in "The Adventure of the Empty House" but we get a peak at a despondant and mourning Watson and then watch as the light enters back into him the second Holmes appears. Holmes himself seems to have come back a changed man, apologizing for his actions and desperately seeking Watson's forgivness and partnership. As if Watson could ever cut him loose after that performance! "The Empty House" may be a weak beginning but Conan Doyle more than makes up for it with the "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder," "The Adventure of the Dancing Men," and "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" just to name my favourites ;)

"The Hound of the Baskervilles" is my favourite of the novels by a long shot. I also love the fact that we get Watson operating on his own for most of the book. Yes you had to do it in order for the whole story to work but I love how this is probably the first real partnership so far. Holmes and the supernatural, you never would have thought it would work would you? Brilliantly done so it fits just perfectly in his world.

"The Valley of Fear" doesn't stand out all too well in mind. Certainly the weakest of the novels and simply annoying in that Watson suddenly knows who Moriarty is when he hadn't before.

"His Last Bow" is a lovely collection if only for the story that shares th volume's title. You see the two of them still working together despite getting on in years. It's a lovely picture. Included are such wonderful gems as "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot". "The Disappearance of Lady Francis Carfax," and "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans". These collections keep getting better and better.

And we close with "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes", which does a nice send off. It's a usual collection of cases with the caveat that this is the end. We're left with the image of Holmes beekeeping on the Sussex Downs with the occasional visit from Watson. I, personally, tend to believe that Watson visits more than Holmes lets on in "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" and that comment about Watson being "beyond his ken" is just him being petulant because Watson hasn't retired yet :P. Anyway, another solid set displaying humanity and reasoning. Watson gets his rewards, twistedly, in "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" and we see some wonderful protective instincts in "The Illustrious Client", "The Problem of Thor Bridge" and "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger." Not the best ones ever (with the notable exception of the Ilustrious client) but comfortable safe stories that ease Holmes' exit from the Strand. At least it's no Final Problem!

It's all fantastic. A story of logic, mysteries, and a touch of romance, but also of one of the most solid friendships in literature. Sir Arthur, you have my gratitude.

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Quotes Kate Liked

Arthur Conan Doyle
“I am an omnivorous reader with a strangely retentive memory for trifles.”
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes

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