Book Log – The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

By far, this is the most un-PC of the Sherlock Holmes oeuvre. Blacks, Jews and women are all treated poorly. Sherlock even ridicules a black man over the size of his lips, which I’m still a little dazed about.

Setting aside the more questionable attitudes, the stories themselves are sub-par, and are not rooted in a single era of Holmes life, as the other collections seem to be. There are some from the early era, when Watson roomed with Holmes at Baker Street, some from after Watson got married, and one after Holmes’ retirement, when Watson wasn’t even in the picture (one of the few (only?) narrated by Homes himself.

In order to read this, I had to actually make a purchase. I picked up “Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Volume 2” from Borders. The Case-Book is the last collection in Volume 2 (of 2), and is rarely mentioned and not available as a standalone book as far as I can gather. All of which leads me to believe that this is the rock-bottom remainders of the Sherlock Holmes world, the dredges that only the Homes afficionados care to undertake.

All in all, a very skippable volume, except perhaps as a character study of the author himself, rooted firmly in his bygone era.

Book Log – Various Sherlock Holmes Short Stories [His Last Bow]

Various Sherlock Holmes stories, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

There are a smattering of stories available on gutenberg.org which don’t appear to be a part of any collected edition. I knocked those out, so I’ll just group them together in my own virtual omnibus.

The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot
The Adventure of the Dying Detective
The Adventure of the Red Circle
The Adventure of the Wisteria Lodge
The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax

All fine stories.

I just checked gutenberg.org and wikipedia to see what I might have missed in the canon, and it seems that there is a short story collection His Last Bow which contains all of the above, plus a third person titular story, His Last Bow.

And what’s this? Another couple novels? Excellent.

The Study of Four
The Valley of Fear

Going to Wikipedia, I see there is another collection of short stories not listed on gutenberg…

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

I’ll have to find a source for this.

Book Log – The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Well, it wasn’t near as bad as I had remembered from High School. In fact, it was just fine. My only complaint is that there was too little Sherlock Holmes in it.

The narrative problem, I’m assuming, with having Holmes in the entirety of a full-length novel, is that he’s simply going to solve the mystery too fast. If you want to stretch the story into a full length book, you really have to have Watson on his own semi-bumbling through the mystery as in this novel, or you have to insert a big stretch of backstory (as in A Study in Scarlet).

Otherwise, you’ve got to make the mystery really complicated, with many layers of the onion. But that requires blowing a lot of ideas on one story. Best to stretch it out over several books, I imagine, and pad, pad, pad.

So, if a second reading through the prism of my 38 year old eyes redeemed The Hound of the Baskervilles, does this mean I need to revisit Great Expectations?

Book Log – A Study In Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This is the first Sherlock Holmes mystery, written purportedly while Conan Doyle was not-busy being an unsuccessful doctor.

It gives us the origins of how Holmes and Watson met (entirely invalidating the Young Sherlock Holmes movie from the 80’s). It is odd in that Holmes is entirely absent from the middle section of the book. This section is a somewhat abrupt jump back in time to give some background story on the mystery in question.

The middle section is also quite an unflattering portrayal of Brigham Young, and the Latter-day Saints colony in Utah of the time. I can’t imagine the Mormons were (or are) big fans of Conan Doyle.

Book Log – The Return of Sherlock Holmes

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The third collection of short stories about the “amateur” detective. I should have read The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes first, as the first story in this collection contains spoilers from that previous set, but past is past.

I look forward to continuing my journey through the canon.

Book Log – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle

Of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, I had only read The Hound of the Baskervilles by requirement in high school. I remember slogging through it with great effort, and thus had in ingrained aversion to trying any of the other tales. I believed Dirk Gently to be a more entertaining, and thus superior, Holmes incarnation for the new generation.

After reading this collection of short stories (published in 1891-1892) , I am surprised at how similar in characterisation Wodehouse’s Psmith (1909) and Adams’ Gently (1987) are to Holmes. Or, for that matter, David Tennant’s Doctor Who.

I enjoyed this enough that I plan to download the other Holmes collections and give them a go.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll give Baskervilles a second chance.

If it behaves.