Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

February Books 20) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle

This is the first volume of Sherlock Holmes stories, and includes several rather brilliant tales of detection - my favourite is "The Red-Headed League", but it also includes "The Speckled Band" and "The Blue Carbuncle". "The Engineer's Thumb" is another good one - even though Holmes' only deduction is the location of the crime, and even that turns out to be too late, it is an effective piece of horror.

However, the collection also includes several stories which are already getting a bit formulaic - the country house with the Awful Family Secret ("The Speckled Band" being the best), the disrupted wedding (the best of these is "A Case of Identity", not the over-rated "Scandal in Bohemia"). I can already sense why Doyle wanted to kill Holmes off.

Following my remarks about drugs in The Sign of Four, I note that Watson does indeed find Holmes in an opium den looking for "The Man with the Twisted Lip" (which is actually a rather weak story - the alert reader will work out where the man is long before Holmes does). But both Holmes and Watson agree that opium is worse than cocaine. Certainly opium use had a strong social and racial stigma, which Doyle does not challenge; indeed, in general these twelve stories are much less subversive than the two first novels, and were correspondingly more successful, though this reader is a bit disappointed.

Posted via LjBeetle
Tags: bookblog 2011, rereads, writer: arthur conan doyle

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