This complete Sherlock Holmes, as you can imagine, is a big book, but in that 1100 pages you do get 4 novels and 56 short stories and as such is great value for money.
Arthur Conan Doyle's easy to read and uncomplicated style of writing coupled with fiendishly clever plots and of course the impressive figures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson have made these novels and short stories a perennial favourite for TV and Cinema. Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr are just the latest incarnations of the indefatigable sleuth.
Although it's much cheaper to buy these books in a compendium like this it's not that easy to read as it's quite heavy. Apart from that however this is a great way to get into these great short stories.
on 1 December 2010
A REVIEW OF `THE COMPLETE SHERLOCK HOLMES' BY SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
Anyone who has travelled on a London Underground train though Baker Street Station will have spotted the iconic profile of Sherlock Holmes on the tiled walls. Who could mistake the deerstalker-donned head, the aquiline nose and the pipe? As an image, Holmes has transcended his literary beginnings. Indeed, to the vast majority, he is perhaps most closely identified with his many post-Conan Doyle incarnations. For the older generations, Holmes will always be Basil Rathbone. Some may picture Jeremy Brett in the more recent ITV television series. In the past few years alone, Holmes has been successfully reinvented in Guy Ritchie's eponymous movie, as well as being reborn as a 21st century detective in the acclaimed BBC series, `Sherlock'. It seems that, in one form or another, we can't get enough of the great consulting detective over a century and a quarter after he first appeared. However, with each re-vamping, there is the danger that the public will lose touch with the REAL Sherlock Holmes of his author's imagination.
I am writing this review having literally just finished reading the entire original Sherlock Homes `canon': 56 short stories and 4 long stories or novels. For those who might consider the Conan Doyle works to be outdated and not worth trying, the fact is that in this weighty volume, there are some of the most creative and exciting mystery, detective, murder and action stories ever to hit the printing presses. Indeed, it is the quality of the original product which explains why the characters of Holmes and his sidekick, Dr John Watson, continue to fascinate and enthuse movie directors and television executives.
With any `complete' collection of writings, there are those who will dive in and devour the whole lot in one marathon read. If that suits your taste, fine. I have plodded through the stories in their published volume format (9 in total) over many years, and have found this more leisurely approach to best showcase the character and author. After all, the stories were actually published over a 40 year period, including a lengthy hiatus, when it was (wrongly) believed that Holmes has met his end having fallen into the chasm at Reichenbach Falls.
The aim of this review is to simply whet the appetite. Those looking for a deep-and-meaningful insight into Sherlock Holmes should peruse one of the many websites devoted to the great detective. So let's look at the 4 novels first. Easily the most famous is `The Hound Of The Baskervilles' (1901-02). However, the remaining three, `A Study In Scarlet' (1887), `The Sign Of [The] Four' (1890) and `The Valley Of Fear' (1914-15) are all fine mystery novels in their own right. Unlike `Baskervilles', which follows a more linear narrative path, the others set Holmes and Watson on the trail of crimes and murders which have their origins in different times and locations. Thus, the stories are split between Holmes' detecting and the explanation, which is told almost as a separate tale. Of the trio, to my mind, `The Valley Of Fear' is the strongest in structure and genuine surprise. For those not tempted to indulge in the complete works, it is a brilliant murder mystery in its own right.
Nevertheless, it is arguably the short stories in which Baker Street's Finest best shows off his talents. The 56 short tales are contained within 5 volumes. Purists cite the first two, The `Adventures' (1891-92) and `Memoirs' (1892-93) as the best. These precede Holmes' waterfall antics and contain some fantastic stories. Some have argued that he was never quite the same in The `Return' (1903-04), `His Last Bow' (1908-1913 and 1917) and The `Casebook' (1921-27). However, despite the fact that the overall consistency of the yarns declines in the later volumes, and some repetition sets in, there is nothing like the dip in form which marred Agatha Christie's last few Poirot novels.
Conan Doyle certainly bowed out gracefully with Holmes, leaving his readers with an insatiable appetite for more. In fact, an internet browse for Sherlock Holmes books will generate a plethora of titles written by other authors. By failing to fatally end his detective's antics, Conan Doyle left the door open for countless `Further Adventures'. Just see what's out there!
However, whilst imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it's impossible to top the originals. In this hefty tome, Conan Doyle has left an embarrassment of riches that will surely continue to enthral and delight readers for generations to come. One of the greatest Sherlock Holmes myths is that his catchphrase was, "Elementary, my dear Watson." I cannot recall having read this actual line in any of his original adventures. However, the more authentic catchphrase, offers a far better insight into what awaits the uninitiated reader: "The game is afoot!"
Barty's Score: 10/10
on 25 August 2011
This was a challenging read because of its length,over 1000 pages, but well worth the effort. I have read snippets of Sherlock Holmes previously, but this good value volume incorporates all of the Sherlock Holmes stories together, right from the start with the meeting of Sherlock Holmes, and Doctor WatsonThe stories are well written,and not only do they give a clear view of Holmes's deductive and observational skills, but an insight into the social,cultural and transport situations oin England in the late 19th and early twentieth century.Some of the writing is not politically correct as in one story he talks about niggers,and the lowly role of some particular characters, but that certainly does not detract from the overall impression of the book
The book can be read piecemeal, picked up and put down at ones whim, but a compleyte read does give a good overall impression of the wriring of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Well worth the effort.