Julianne's Reviews > The Complete Sherlock Holmes

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
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's review
Apr 05, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Recommended for: anyone stuck inside on a rainy day, convalescents

Apparently, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published nine volumes of Sherlock Holmes mysteries during the course of his lifetime. Four novels and fifty-six short stories in five collections. Over 1,300 pages. And after reading all of them, I can positively state that at no point does Sherlock Holmes ever actually say, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” But that didn’t spoil the book for me.

I’d been imagining Sherlock Holmes mysteries to be at once cornball and arcane, a cross between Clue and The Once and Future King: —“Colonel Mustard in the atrium with a candlestick, declaiming, ‘It was Court Hand and Summulae Logicales!’” But actually I’d say they’re more like the cocaine in which Holmes himself occasionally indulges. (Who knew?) I couldn’t quit turning pages; as soon as I finished one story, I was on to the next one. With titles like “The Crooked Man” and “The Red-Headed League,” who could resist? And although according to pop culture, Holmes is a genius and Watson a bumbling idiot, their real characters are more complicated than that and the interplay between them fun fun fun to read.

Footnote: When I first read the preface, “In Memoriam Sherlock Holmes,” by Christopher Morley, I thought it was asinine—like something a fan club president would put at the top of his monthly newsletter. However, about a third of my way into the book, I began consulting it for information on Doyle, his works, and his life; and by the time I got halfway through, I thought it was the most useful, spot-on introduction I’d read, possibly ever. I wish all books had such prefaces.

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