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The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 2 Hardcover – September 20, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859 and died in 1930.He set up as a doctor at Southsea and it was while waiting for patients that he began to write. His growing success as an author enabled him to give up his practice and turn his attention to other subjects.His greatest achievement was his creation of Sherlock Holmes, who soon attained international status and constantly distracted him from his other work; at one time Conan Doyle killed him but was obliged by public protest to restore him to life. And in his creation of Dr. Watson, Holmes's companion in adventure and chronicler, Conan Doyle produced not only a perfect foil for Holmes but also one of the most famous narrators in fiction. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

From Kyle Freeman’s Introduction to The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume II


            When in 1891 Sherlock Holmes tumbled to his apparent death over the falls at Reichenbach in Switzerland, locked in the embrace of the sinister Professor Moriarty, readers all over the world were stunned and saddened. Letters poured in to Arthur Conan Doyle and to his publisher, the Strand Magazine, urging the revival of the beloved detective. Conan Doyle was adamant that he wouldn’t do it. “I couldn’t revive him if I would, at least not for years,” he wrote to a friend, “for I have had such an overdose of him that I feel towards him as I do towards pâté-de-foie-gras, of which I once ate too much, so that the name of it gives me a sickly feeling to this day” (Baring-Gould, The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, vol. 1, p. 16; see “For Further Reading”). Then seven years later, after a young friend told him a legend from Dartmoor about a supernatural hound, Conan Doyle relented by writing The Hound of the Baskervilles. He was careful, however, to make it a reminiscence, not a resurrection, of his famous consulting detective. The story was set in 1889, two years before the Swiss misadventure. The resumption of writing about his most famous creation must have set into motion something in Conan Doyle’s soul, for in an interview quoted in the Harper’s Weekly issue of August 31, 1901, the month The Hound was first serialized, one can see his resolve starting to weaken. “I know that my friend Dr. Watson is a most trustworthy man, and I gave the utmost credit to his story of the dreadful affair in Switzerland. He may have been mistaken, of course. It may not have been Mr. Holmes who fell from the ledge at all, or the whole affair might be the result of hallucination.” It wasn’t long before Conan Doyle decided—perhaps after a wistful look at his bank balance—that the enforced absence of his sleuth had gone on for too long. In 1903 he called on his friend Dr. Watson once more for another series of stories about his colleague, and in October 1903 the Strand published “The Adventure of the Empty House.” There it was revealed, almost plausibly, that only Moriarty had gone over the falls at Reichenbach. Thus readers learned to their delight that they would be treated to many more adventures of the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes.

            A series of twelve more stories followed, ending with “The Adventure of the Second Stain,” the last published in the December 1904 issue of the Strand Magazine. In quick order the series was published as a book by George Newnes of London in 1905, under the title The Return of Sherlock Holmes, with sixteen illustrations by Sidney Paget, the great illustrator whose drawings for the first Strand stories had done so much to establish the popular image of Holmes. The new stories appeared to take up just where the old ones left off. Holmes and Watson resumed their cozy relationship; Holmes continued to solve mysteries that baffled Watson, Scotland Yard, and the reader; and the world of 221B Baker Street seemed as solid and unchanging as ever.

            It seems that way only until one examines the stories more carefully. A closer reading reveals subtle but significant changes in Holmes. The first one we might notice is Holmes’s willingness to take the law into his own hands. In one of the early Sherlock Holmes stories, “The Boscombe Valley Mystery,” we recall that Holmes did not divulge the name of John Turner as the man responsible for the death of his neighbor, Mr. McCarthy, when Holmes learned that McCarthy was a blackmailer and that Turner didn’t have long to live. Technically it’s a crime to conceal such evidence, but in view of the circumstances few would quarrel with Holmes’s decision. But before his resurrection, such behavior by Holmes was unique to that story, and we might note that he merely withheld information he had deduced himself—passive misbehavior at worst. In his defense we might also recall that in the case of “The Greek Interpreter” in the second series of stories, Holmes insisted on getting a warrant to search the premises of kidnappers.

            In The Return such niceties are almost scornfully dismissed. Holmes aggressively pursues his own justice, actively breaking the law on several occasions and coming close to morally censurable conduct on several others. We first see this change in “The Adventure of the Priory School,” where we learn that the murder of a German teacher named Heidegger and the kidnapping of the son of the Duke of Holdernesse were part of a plot by the duke’s illegitimate son. It’s clear that the son, acting as the duke’s secretary, and the duke himself were complicit in aiding the killer’s escape. Holmes, claiming he is a poor man, agrees to keep silent about the whole nasty business in exchange for a huge check from his lordship. This is rather shocking. Unlike the previous case in Boscombe Valley, where we feel some sympathy for the wronged man, who will die soon anyway, we have no extenuating circumstances here. In fact, we have a prime example of the high-handedness of aristocracy in covering up its dirty family business at the cost of other people’s lives. Holmes’s acceptance of an enormous check could be seen as a bribe. When we compare this with his acid-toned retort in “The Problem of Thor Bridge,”—“‘My professional charges are upon a fixed scale,’ said Holmes coldly. ‘I do not vary them, save when I remit them altogether’”—it looks as if Holmes has sold out here.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble Classics (September 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593082045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593082048
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 2.2 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,023 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #927,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
In Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created one of the world's best known and (arguably) most fully realized literary characters. Since Doyle's death, there have been plenty of people writing knockoffs of his stories. But with rare exceptions (Nicholas Meyer comes to mind), most have not lived up to the high standards Doyle set in at least the best of his Holmes tales.

This volume includes the complete canon of Doyle's original stories -- four novels and fifty-six short stories, from "A Study in Scarlet" to "His Last Bow." While there are a handful of cases that bore significantly on international affairs (e.g. "The Bruce-Partington Plans"), most of them are of interest simply because of that touch of the _outre_ that Holmes loved so much and that provided such stimulating material to the ideal reasoner.

There are some clunkers in the canon, of course, but the vast majority of these stories -- especially the earliest ones -- are just brilliant. If you are reading them for the first time, I envy you; the sturdy Dr. John Watson is about to introduce you to a new world, a world of Victorian gaslight and Stradivarius violins, of hansom cabs and cries of "The game's afoot!"

For in reading this volume you will find such classic tales as "The Red-Headed League" and "The Man With The Twisted Lip"; you will encounter the famous dog that did nothing in the night-time ("Silver Blaze") and several versions of Holmes's favorite maxim ("When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"); and you will meet one of the most fascinating and memorable characters ever to spring from the printed page: Holmes himself.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Every Holmes fan has more than one version of the Canon, and this should be among the collection as your standard 'reading copy.' Until I discovered this edition, my favorite reading version was the 1970s Ballantine editions (with great introductions ranging from Joe Gores to Ellery Queen to P.G. Wodehouse)--but sadly, that edition is out of print, and never contained the final two Conan Doyle books anyway. This oversized paperback aptly fills the modern role of a definitive edition.
As for the stories themselves, you simply can't go wrong in rediscovering or reading Holmes for the first time. Sure, Conan Doyle's stories sometimes lacked an internal logic (my favorite tale, 'The Adventure of the Red-Headed League," is riddled with plot holes). But there's a reason these have remained as classics that have never gone out of popular fashion, over a hundred years since publication: they're entertaining, cleverly written, wonderfully detailed, and often edge-of-your-seat thrilling. Included are all 57 short stories (ideal for a quite hour in your armchair, or for a commute during which you can escape to Victorian London) and the four longer novels (the most popular of which is "The Hound of the Baskervilles," but don't pass up the sublime and underrated "The Valley of Fear"). This is the ideal book for a long vacation (especially to London!), and, if I were stranded on a desert island, this is the book I'd want most with me (well, after that 'How to Build an Island-Escaping Raft from Coconuts' book).
If you haven't discovered Sherlock Holmes, this is the edition of his adventures to buy. If you read Conan Doyle long ago but haven't picked him up since, this is the edition to buy. If you've got several other Sherlock Holmes books on your shelf but want a single-volume complete edition, this is the edition to buy. As it's been said, 'There's no police like Holmes.'
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Back in the 1990s, I discovered the excellent Jeremy Brett filmed episodes of Sherlock Holmes...and that experience led me to the stories themselves. I then ended up reading all 56 short stories and 4 novels in short order.

There's a reason the character of Sherlock Holmes is remembered, some 125 years after his debut!!!

As one preface mentioned, Conan Doyle did not know how to write a dull sentence. Which is a very true statement. Virtually all of these stories are gripping ones, but even the lesser ones -- mainly the ones Conan Doyle wrote toward the end -- are so atmospheric, that your enjoyment is scarcely lessened.

Read these tales!! You won't be disappointed!!!
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By Chris on October 22, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The picture does no justice. I really like this product and have uploaded 2 pictures to show what it really looks like. It has that new book smell, thin pages, and it feels nice.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and have enjoyed many a bedtime story with the great sleuth, so it was with great anticipation that I purchased the Kindle version of this volume of short stories. I was sadly disappointed, though, to find that apparently the publishers did not understand the audience that buys short story collections; they did not bother to include something most basic and needful in an anthology - a table of contents. Without a table of contents the reader has no choice but to start at page one and hit "Next Page" hundreds of times to access stories further into the volume. This is a ridiculous oversight that completely ruins the experience of picking up a good collection of short stories and choosing a story to read at a whim based on the title. If one cannot see all of the titles in an included table of contents, then one is forced to start at the beginning and read them all chronologically. This may work in a novel, but it decidely does not work as a format for a collection of short stories. Please actually keep the reader in mind the next time that you publish a Kindle version of short stories. Include a table of contents.
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