on November 16, 2011
This is a collection of 12 stories about the great detective. They are well-written, and each one takes about an hour to listen to, which made them perfect for my one-hour commute.
I'd never read any Sherlock Holmes, and I anticipated that the cases would be totally un-solvable. But it turns out that the clues provided during the narrative are often quite revealing, and it's frequently possible to guess the ending. This is particularly true of some stories, in which clues that were (I suppose) meant to be subtle to a British audience of the late 1800s, are now glaringly obvious. One story, for example uses the initials "KKK" for an evil secret society. `What could it be?' wonders sidekick Dr. Watson. Of course, any US citizen today knows what those initials stand for. However, although one can often guess the ending, it's tricky to catch all of the clues. I kept myself entertained by trying to catch as many of the clues as I could. I never managed to catch every one.
One thing I'm curious about is how many of these stories were archetypes of their plots. Several of the plots were very familiar to me because I'd seen or read similar stuff in movies & books. But it occurred to me: maybe these were the originals! I don't know enough about mystery writing to know whether that's the case or not.
on February 5, 2012
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, A. Conan Doyle
These are the first twelve short stories about the most famous detective in fiction. They were written in the 1890s when illumination came from fire (candles, oil lamps, and gas). Local travel was by horse or foot. No telephones. Technology has advanced but human nature remains the same. The character of `Sherlock Holmes' was inspired by Doctor Joseph Bell, the famous medical professor in Edinburgh Scotland. Reading the original stories reminds you how good they are, much better than the many imitators. Greed is the motive for most of these stories. I wonder how many were adapted from long forgotten true crime cases?
A Scandal in Bohemia. A big, tall man visits Holmes on a secret mission. This nobleman is in a photograph with an actress, and this can endanger an arranged dynastic marriage. Holmes is given £1,000 for expenses [a small fortune then]. Holmes uses a trick to find a hidden valuable object.
The Red-Headed League. A man with blazing red hair visits Holmes with his problem of a lost well-paying job. Holmes visits his shop on a side street. A watch at night catches the burglar and saves the bank its fortune in French gold. Holmes explains his deductions. A man who works for half-wages?
A Case of Identity. A young woman wants to find a missing fiancé who disappeared before their wedding. Holmes figures out the fraud and why it was done. The law can't touch this scoundrel. [The impressions of a typewriter can identify each unique machine.]
The Boscombe Valley Mystery. Charles McCarthy was found dead by a lake, his son James was arrested as a suspect. Holmes thinks the son is innocent, but has a secret. Holmes studies the crime scene and collects the clues, then identifies the murderer. James was acquitted, a confession did not have to be used. Justice was served, not the law.
The Five Orange Pips. A young man visits Holmes for advice. He tells what happened to his uncle and father. Now he received the same message. Can Holmes save him and catch those responsible. Or will they answer to a higher power?
The Man With the Twisted Lip. Kate Whitney visits Dr. Watson about her missing husband, an opium addict. Watson finds her husband, then joins Holmes in a search for Neville St. Clair. Only a professional beggar could know what happened to him! Holmes succeeds in locating the missing man.
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle. A man lost his hat and a goose in a street fight. Can the owner be found? The goose was cooked, the rightful owner received a replacement. Will an innocent man be convicted for a theft? No. Holmes shows mercy.
The Adventure of the Speckled Band. A young woman consults Holmes about her fears, her older sister died earlier. Why was her bedroom changed? What makes her stepfather so fierce? [Mad as a hatter?] Helen's life is saved, the guilty person falls into his own trap.
The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb. A murderous attack severed the thumb of a young hydraulic engineer. He tells his story to Holmes. He was offered high pay for a few hours of work in secret. He had a narrow escape! Holmes takes him to Scotland Yard and they go to Eyford. But it is too late, the criminals escaped capture.
The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor. Lord St. Simon asks Holmes for advice on a runaway bride. Was there anything in her past to cause this? Holmes solves this mystery by following a back trail. [What does this say about the nobility?]
The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet. A tall, portly man visits Holmes. This banker loaned £50,000 to a nobleman who gave a beryl coronet as security. After it partly disappeared a relative was arrested. Can Holmes recover the lost gems and solve the crime? Yes, he explains what was overlooked. The guilty party will soon receive a more than sufficient punishment.
The Adventure of the Copper Beeches. A young woman asks for advice on changing jobs, she is offered very good pay. But she must cut her long hair short. Weeks later she sent a telegram to Holmes asking for help. Holmes arrives to solve the mystery. There is a happy ending.
on May 1, 2012
The first twelve stories of Sherlock Holmes form the groundwork for a great compilation of short stories. Written shortly after the "Moonstone" Doyle was dappling in a new realm, the realm of mystery. The book is separated into short stories due to being put out serially in a magazine in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I really enjoyed the stories because they were each an individual story yet together, they had an underlying theme. Many modern day shows are based on the work of Doyle and it is really interesting to see the origin of many mystery scenarios. The show "House" is actually based on the Sherlock Holmes short stories so if you end up reading this novel, be sure to check out the show.
The level of reading is not extremely high, nor low, so the language is easy to understand so that the reader can focus on the mystery. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I highly recommend this to any high school student interested in some "spare-time reading."
on July 23, 2011
-"Watson, I have discovered this thing called...the internet. I'm on a wonderful place called Amazon, some shipping and recieving cargo bay. It's beyond comprehension, all our adevntures can be purshased for under a pound, straight from Topeka, Kansas! Fantastic!
-"Amazing Holmes. Who is that chap on the cover with the bushy eyebrows? The ruggedly hansom chap? Must be me.
-..."It's me. Now, now, I believe you have those memoirs to write. Let me take care of the detecting business. I believe I may be able to catch our criminal by tracking his shipping history."
"What's this?! A one star review Holmes! I can't...why in God's name would someone give such a fantastic, wonderful set of stories a single star! I've got nothing but good press so far, I mean having this fellow Robert Downey's face on the cover makes it five stars at least!!"
-(In a grating voice) "MY face, dear fellow! Now, go write those memoirs, because obviously we're fairly important characters if we're around a hundred years later, even if we have....(a whisper)...haters.
-"Haters? Holmes, what kind of lingo is this?"
"They're out there, believe me."
"Well, at least they're still publishing my stories, eh? Even if they've forgotten how ugly you're supposed to be. Replaced you with this new chap, they did, but that's bound to happen. It's the backbone, the trusted and true detective and his Boswell, teaming together to solve the toughest crimes that keeps people readin-"
"Shut up, Watson. It's me they care about. Let's not lie."