I recently finished a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. I have been reading them one by one over the past several months. I don’t often read short stories, but I found it difficult to read mystery novels during grad school-they were either too tempting to finish and distracted me from my work or, if I stayed focused on my studies, I would take too long to read them and forget key details. I also find a nice short story is a good way to cleanse my palate as a reader. I definitely got so caught up in Brideshead Revisited that I had a bit of a “book hangover” this weekend.
The Sherlock Holmes stories are classics for a reason. Holmes is an extremely memorable detective, and the approach to solving cases sets the stories apart from other mysteries. Conan Doyle’s use of small, seemingly insignificant details as clues makes for very interesting reading, however it also makes the mystery very difficult to solve for a modern reader. And yet, these stories are definitely “puzzle mysteries”-the emphasis is on logic and there is very little character development. (Not that Holmes’s character needs to be developed.) Personally, I don’t mind not being able to predict an ending, and I really enjoyed seeing how each solution worked out.
My one criticism of this book is that there is not a consistent level of quality from one story to the next. “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Speckled Band” are excellent, intriguing stories, but others just weren’t as interesting to me. I was interested to note that which stories were interesting had nothing to do with the type of crime being investigated. (I think Mr. Holmes would agree.)
I would recommend this book to anyone remotely interested in mysteries. The Sherlock Holmes stories were and continue to be hugely influential within that genre. This book is also great for a busy reader-the stories stand alone and can be read in one sitting. Although some of the stories in this book are definitely worth five stars, I give the book as a whole four stars. I read this book on my Kindle, because it cost only 99 cents, but you can find a variety of formats here.