Classic of the Week: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

‘”I fail to see how you work it out”… “It is simplicity itself” said he’

Whether you are a Benedict Cumberbatch or a Robert Downey, Jr. fan, you will love this book. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes demonstrates Conan Doyle at his most enchanting and most elusive. From the point of view of Watson, we see Holmes unravelling the yet-unsolved mysteries of London’s dark and dangerous criminal underworld. With ease.

This collection is the series that strung the names of Sherlock and Watson in lights, and features some of Sherlock’s most famous cases: ‘The Blue Carbuncle’, ‘The Speckled Band’ and the wonderful, ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ in which Irene Adler makes her classic entrance onto the page and into Sherlock’s mind.

The short stories do follow a rather repetitive formula: Sherlock immediately derives the crux of the matter from victim’s appearance; detail is confirmed by victim; Watson cries ‘My dear Holmes!’ in disbelief; Holmes explains situation to Watson; crime scene is visited and confessions forced. But this is actually irrelevant because not for a moment do they scrape the barrel of disinterest. Sherlock is a captivating protagonist and holds your attention as a reader inescapably  On top of this the prose is fast-paced, inventive, mysterious and exciting, and the length of the stories makes them easy to pick up and easy to read (even if they are not easy to put down).

When Conan Doyle eventually got fed up with a hero who was on the verge of becoming more famous than the author, Doyle wrote Sherlock’s death into one of the tales. But readers wouldn’t have any of it; he was forced to bring him back through plausible explanation when the whole of London went into mourning. Sherlock is an old-school hero, a master detective and an example of pure intelligence scored by tantalizing wit. The fact that the city cared so much about the life of a fictional character tells you all you need to know about the ingenuity of his invention.


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is available from Oxford World’s Classics

Words: Lottie Brown

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