You might remember that back in April my random number generator selected The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for my TBR Lucky Dip book that month. I know April seems a long time ago now, but this book has finally worked its way to the top of my review queue.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes comprises twelve short stories chronicling the escapades of Sherlock Holmes, as told by Dr John Watson. Although the scenarios are all very different, each follows the same formula: a client comes to visit Holmes, usually with Watson conveniently there too, in a degree of agitation and bringing news of a seemingly impossible mystery. Holmes then makes deductions and conducts cursory investigations, usually while leaving the reader and the hapless Watson mostly in the dark, before everything is revealed to work out exactly as he suspects all along.
This is an enjoyable collection of short stories. Although I appreciate that arrogance and intellectual superiority are an integral part of the character of Sherlock Holmes and one of the main factors contributing to his appeal, I found this much less irritating in the short story format than he can sometimes become in the longer novels. Because the narratives are shorter, there is no time for quite as much opaqueness and so many meaningful silences; instead, they race entertainingly from knotty problem through speedy investigation to brilliant revelation. Impressed as I am by Sherlock Holmes after reading this volume, I am far more impressed with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for inventing such a variety of different situations and mysteries for his fictional detective to solve.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Published by Penguin, 2007, pp. 365. Originally published in serial, 1891-1892.