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Beth Meacham, David Brin

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes -  Arthur Conan Doyle After “reading” lengthy audiobooks like [b: Vanity Fair|5797|Vanity Fair|William Makepeace Thackeray|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344386439s/5797.jpg|1057468] I just wanted to read/listen-to something short. Then I saw the movie The Imitation Game (highly recommended) and I thought “Of course! Sherlock!”

I suspect reviewing an anthology by listing all the stories and commenting on each of them is probably inelegant and amateurish, but I never said I was a pro. So the game is afoot! Let the jollification begin:

A Scandal in Bohemia - Irene Adler is not Holmes girlfriend OK? stop shipping "Sherene" already! (sorry for this bout of Tumblrism). One of the best known SH stories ever, one with a great twist. Irene Adler is simply awesome. She is possibly the inspiration for Catwoman. Without spoiling anything I can tell you that she was never in any danger of being beheaded in the Middle East. Actually Holmes probably fancies her a bit, mostly for her brain.

The Red-Headed League - Holmes vs The Deadly Gingers! This is “a three pipes problem” according to Holmes. This story is subtly funny in places, Holmes and Watson even have a good laugh at his dimwitted client's expense.

A Case of Identity - One of the more comfy cases which Holmes can solve from his armchair. Funny thing about this story is that while it is good, when I looked at the title of the story a couple days later in the Contents page I had no idea what it is about. It's just too elementary. Note to self: This one is about a missing fiancé who leaves his nice but dim bride at the altar, he is not what he seems...

The Boscombe Valley Mystery - Murder (al)most foul. Number of pipes not specified, probably not more than four as the case involves a bit of traveling. Holmes says something surprisingly religious here: “You are yourself aware that you will soon have to answer for your deed at a higher court than the Assizes."

The Five Orange Pips - A bit of an epic fail for Sherlock, it's a great story and Holmes did solve the case but the conclusion of the case is not one of his shining moments. If you receive five orange pips in the post you may as well kill yourself because even Holmes can’t help you (though he will avenge you which is not much of a consolation)

The Man with the Twisted Lip
Holmes vs a master of disguise! Great story with a surprisingly sweet ending. Holmes solves this one by “sitting upon five pillows and consuming an ounce of shag.” LOL! Mr. Holmes you are too many for me.

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
In which Holmes wouldn't say boo to a goose. Underneath the cold exterior he can be quite kindly and forgiving to newbie criminals. It's a gem!

The Adventure of the Speckled Band - Holmes assists a Stoner in a most serpentine tale! This is the most thrilling and sinister story so far in the book. Definitely a favorite.

The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb - Another case where Holmes does not have to do a lot of work. The poor engineer and his ex-thumb though. The climax is quite thrilling, you can almost feel the ceiling closing in.

The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor The titular Noble Bachelor turns out to be an upper class twit. Doyle is doing a bit of a social satire with this story I think. A relatively inconsequential story but still a lot of fun. The wedding scene reminds me of the movie The Graduate a little bit.

The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
A tale of thievery and familial trust issues. Holmes can be quite paternal and sentimental when he chooses to be, though here he does that stuff "off screen".

The Adventure of the Copper Beeches
“They're creepy and they're kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They're all together ooky”


It’s Holmes vs The Addams Family! Well, not quite but it’s not too far off. Marvelous story, featuring Violet Hunter, a resourceful and competent young lady, who is almost as awesome as Irene Adler. If Irene is Catwoman, Violet is surely Batgirl.

No Shit Sherlock* - Holmes battles his deadliest enemy, constipation! Dr. Watson to the rescue with a suppository.

Every story in this book (except that last one about constipation) is a gem. Gems come in different sizes of course, but the entire collection is definitely a treasure. Holmes is probably my favorite fictional character of all time. His intellect is practically of superhero proportion, he is also wonderfully inscrutable yet caring and staunch defender of the less well to do. Watson is an extremely important support for Holmes, his courage and loyalty to Holmes saves the sleuth’s bacon on many occasions. He is also definitely not an idiot as portrayed in some dramatization. He can be quite quick witted and observant, and of course he is our trusty narrator.

Of course it takes an actual genius to create such a vivid and convincing fictional genius. From the reader’s point of view it may seem easy to think up a crime and then retroactively create clues that will lead Holmes to solving them, but when you read these stories Holmes’ problem solving just seem so organic and natural. His reading of people’s background from observing the minutiae of their appearance is mind boggling even though we know the author create the observations to fit the characters’ appearance. The ingenious part is that Doyle makes it all so believable, and he writes with such wit, style and elegance.

If you never read any Sherlock Holmes before shame on you! I recommend starting with this collection, then go on to the novels and other collections.
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* OK, I totally made this one up!

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Librivox audiobook read – nay performed – by David Clarke. Awesome job Mr. Clarke!