Sunday, July 14, 2013

Revisiting Holmes: The Second Collection

Book 35: Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Unabridged audio.

This collection of Sherlock Holmes stories contains a nice range of stories, showing the great detective at the height of his powers. There are important stories, stories I remembered well, and stories that (although having read before) I honestly had no clear recollections of.

Doyle is clearly struggling in these stories to find scenarios to bring Holmes together with the now-married Watson. As such, we get stories out of the chronology, including Holmes first case ever, “The Gloria Scott.” And there are some situations that are reminiscent of other stories – a strange situation that is nonsensical to everyone except Holmes, who realizes that there must be a method to the specific madness he is investigating. The Musgrave’s family ritual appears silly to all, but Holmes recognizes it as a secret code – as does someone else. Holmes’ deductions in the story “The Stockholder’s Clerk” follows a familiar path.

There are some terrific stories in this collection, starting with “Silver Blaze,” the story that contains the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime. “The Resident Patient” and “The Naval Treaty” are also standouts.

Sherlock’s brother Mycroft makes his first appearance in “The Greek Interpreter,” and there are some terrific scenes of sibling competition. Poor Watson has never felt more inadequate than when he first finds himself in the company of the Holmes brothers.

The last story in this collection was Doyle’s first attempt to end his association with Holmes. “The Final Problem” brings Holmes head-to-head with his greatest villain, Professor Moriarity. Foreshadowed at the beginning of the story, Moriarity and Holmes engage in a physical showdown at the iconic location of the Reichenbach Falls.

Not to spoil anything, but despite Holmes’ death in “The Final Problem,” there are three more collections of stories for me to read, as well as a pair of novels. I will be busy with Holmes for the rest of the year.

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