This review is specific to the unabridged audio book read by Derek Jacobi.
Published monthly in the Strand Magazine in 1892/3 and collected together as a book in 1894, the memoirs of Sherlock Holmes include some of the best of his short stories. Silver Blaze, Crooked Man, Musgrave Ritual and, of course, The Final problem, have gone down in literary history as thrilling tales of adventure and deductive reasoning. The tales cover a broad range, from Holmes' recounting of adventures in 1880 and 1881 (prior to his meeting Watson) to his faithful Boswell, through to the Final problem set in 1891. So in this collection we get Holmes' first cast, and what Doyle thought would be his last.
Doyle gives us a series of mysteries that give their thrills either through astonishing displays of deductive reasoning (Silver Blaze, Musgrave Ritual), from action and adventure (The Final Problem, The Gloria Scott), mixtures of the two (Reigate Squires) and occasionally from a good old fashioned slice of Gothic Horror (Musgrave Ritual again). Problems are not always satisfactorily resolved (The Resident Patient, The Yellow Face), but the telling of the tale is always thrilling.
This set follows the tradition of not including the contemporary story `The Cardboard Box', so there are only eleven stories here. Nonetheless it is a five star collection of tales, and consists of:
"The Adventure of the Yellow Face"
"The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk"
"The Adventure of the Gloria Scott"
"The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual"
"The Adventure of the Reigate Squire"
"The Adventure of the Crooked Man"
"The Adventure of the Resident Patient"
"The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter"
"The Adventure of the Naval Treaty"
"The Final Problem"
Derek Jacobi's full text reading, on 8 discs, is a real pleasure. It is the next best thing to reading the actual book. Jacobi provides a great narrating voice, slipping into the role of Watson relating events perfectly. You almost feel as though you are sat next to Watson in his club as he reminisces on his adventures with his friend Holmes. And as he recounts the events leading up to Holmes' death at Reichenbach Jacobi really conveys the sorrow that Watson feels for the loss of his friend. It's masterful. I enjoyed listening to this immensely, and look forward to getting more in the series. 5 stars.