* CONTAINS SPOILERS
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes was originally published in 1894 and contains eleven Sherlock Holmes stories (one story has been removed) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The book is my final read for the Sherlock Holmes Reading Challenge hosted by Mari Reads.
After the repetition and wordiness of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Moonstone, reading The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes has been really refreshing. Doyle’s short stories featuring the iconic detective and his sidekick, Dr. John Watson, are concise and snappy mysteries. I’ve been breezing through the book and loving every minute of it.
However, a few stories into the book, I had this nagging feeling that something was different. Many of the stories in this collection consist of clients telling Holmes and Watson their personal stories with very little detective work completed. In some instances, Holmes relates some of his first cases, one he doesn’t even solve! Then it dawned on me that the book is described as his … memoirs. It was an unexpected but not unpleasant departure from previous collections.
I read some complaints that the Sherlock Holmes mysteries are too elementary. A valid point, but I feel Doyle’s objective was to flesh out the fascinating character of Sherlock Holmes and not necessarily to write a mind-boggling mystery. Part of the fun reading these stories is trying to solve Sherlock Holmes, a curiosity the reader relies on Watson to satisfy. Who is he? Why does he act that way? How did he solve that puzzle?
By far, the best story in the collection is The Final Problem because it introduces Holmes’ arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty. It is a battle between two great minds which leads to only death. This time Watson is not living the adventure, but looking back and reporting what happened. I found it a very passive method for telling us the most exciting and tense showdown Holmes has ever faced, but it makes sense that Watson remains the narrator and the story another memoir.
Overall, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is a very satisfying book to read. I once again enjoyed joining Holmes and Watson on their adventures. The stories are a quick read, the mysteries clever and strange, and the witty rapport between Holmes and Watson delightful. I can always rely on Sherlock Holmes to both entertain and educate me. Some people like to snuggle up with Jane Eyre or Harry Potter, but I’ll seek out Sherlock Holmes for comfort every time.
Now who’s ready for Season 3 of Sherlock?
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Some brief notes from reading The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (also contains spoilers)
Silver Blaze – Sherlock describes how he thinks through the situation to determine the most logical progression of the crime.
Yellow Face – Surprising twist and sweet ending. I welled up with tears a little.
Stockbroker’s Clerk – Hello, Red-Headed League anyone?
Gloria Scott – Sherlock’s first case.
Musgrave Ritual – Sherlock’s third case.
Reigate Squire – I figured out this one before the ending.
Crooked Man – Sherlock finally says, “Elementary”. I thought that was cute.
Resident Patient – Sherlock reads Watson’s mind. I thought that was also cute.
Greek Interpreter – Readers meet Myecroft for the first time.
Naval Treaty – Your average Sherlock Holmes adventure.
Final Problem – Stunning and oh so good. Moriarty is truly a frightening foe.