Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Short Story Wednesday: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Part 1

The first book of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short stories, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, is on my Classics Club List and on my 20 Books of Summer list. So, earlier this week I dipped into it for the first time.

I don't have much experience with the Sherlock Holmes books. I have only read the first novel. I did enjoy reading A Study in Scarlet, but it was not at all what I expected. I have read at least three of the short stories in anthologies over the years and liked two out of three of those. 

The edition I have, shown above, combines The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes in one book. It has an Introduction by John Berendt, and notes by James Danly.

Most of the stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are close to the same length, about 20 pages each. The first three stories seemed lighter, flimsier to me. Not at all what I expected. These three stories are:

"A Scandal in Bohemia"

"The Red-Headed League"

"A Case of Identity"

The first story, "A Scandal in Bohemia," is the only story that Irene Adler appears in, which makes it a special story. And it is very interesting. I was just expecting more.

The solutions to the next two stories seemed obvious to me and others have said the same, so I have to note that it is enjoyable just to read the dialogue between Holmes and Dr. Watson, the description of the proposed case, the meeting of the client, and the narration by Watson. 

My least favorite story was "A Case of Identity". Holmes is very patronizing to his young female client and I could find no excuse for that.

My favorite story in this book so far is "The Boscombe Valley Mystery." This is a story with the mystery, complexity, and depth I was expecting. 

In this story, Sherlock Holmes asks Watson to join him on a trip to Boscombe Valley to investigate a murder. Watson's wife thinks he needs a break from his medical practice and encourages him to go. Charles McCarthy has been murdered on his farm, in a secluded area, and his son James has been accused of the murder. A young woman has asked Lestrade of Scotland Yard to look into the case, because she thinks the son is innocent. Lestrade then invites Holmes to assist him. The culprit is fairly obvious in this story also, but it was fun to read about the investigation and how it all worked out.

I have eight more stories to read in this book. I will report back on my thoughts on those stories once I have read more of them.


Cath said...

I quite like the occasional Sherlock Holmes story but I suppose I read them for the Victorian settings than anything else. I'm also not sure if they're actually better on screen than in print. I have very fond memories of Jeremy Brett in the role.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The only work of his I have read is HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES although I have watched many of the movies and series.

TracyK said...

Cath, that reminds me that the notes in this edition, which often just supply the definition of a term, were very useful and interesting for terms used in that time that I was not familiar with. Not necessary for understanding the story but still a nice addition.

I have enjoyed some of the current screen versions of Sherlock Holmes, although it seems they go astray from the original stories in some ways.

TracyK said...

Patti, the next novel I will read is The Sign of Four and then comes The Hound of the Baskervilles.

I have watched and enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr. and the Sherlock series and Elementary.

Now that I have read some of the original stories I suppose I could try some of the pastiches, although there are so many I would not know where to start.

Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, I like The Boscombe Valley Mystery, too, Tracy. I like the connection to the past, and the story itself, and the clue that Holmes gets. It's just a very well-done story in my opinion.

TracyK said...

Margot, I liked that both the men had come from Australia, and we get a lot of history of their relationship over time, as you say.

I am sure I will find more stories I like as I read more from this book.

George said...

Tracy, I got into Sherlock Holmes as a teenager and binged on the entire oeuvre. Then, years later, I began reading the dozens of Sherlock Holmes pastiches published by various writers. Today, I don't think a month goes by without some publisher bringing out a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. In fact, I'm reading THE DAUGHTER OF SHERLOCK HOLMES right now!

Todd Mason said...

If you'd like a sequel by other hands that is somewhat unusual (though by me excellent), Michael Chabon's THE FINAL SOLUTION, a novella that has been published in its own volumes.

TracyK said...

George, I had wondered if I would like these more now if I had started reading them when I was much younger.

I have seen several short story anthologies of Sherlock Holmes pastiches lately. And I have read the first book Laurie R. King's series about Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I read that before I read anything by Arthur Conan Doyle.

TracyK said...

Todd, thanks for that suggestion. I do have a copy of that book and I had forgotten about it. That would be a good one to try.