Sunday, 2 January 2011
The Extraordinary Cases of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Anyway, I decided it was high time I tried again, with no accents required. Sherlock Holmes is a freelance detective who uses logic and a scientific method to solve a number of cases from the smallest of clues that others might overlook. His friend Watson records them. This collection contains eight short stories, including "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", "The Reigate Puzzle" and "The Musgrave Ritual".
Score: 3 out of 5
I don't think I am the kind of reader that will ever get the most out of detective stories or mysteries. I know that you are supposed to be trying to solve each case as you go along, and that you're supposed to see if you can outwit Holmes and notice something from the clues, but I'm just not that kind of reader. I'm content just to read and see what happens, so in that sense I didn't solve any of the mysteries for myself. I am impressed with Conan Doyle's construction of the stories though, and how he buries the clues subtly throughout each. I can see why this is regarded as detective writing at it's best.
One problem I had whilst reading the collection was that I found Sherlock Holmes himself to be insufferably smug. At one point, he introduces himself as "My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don't know" and generally gives off an air of 'I know everything and would tell it to you but your brain is so under-developed you wouldn't be able to understand.' He constantly reminds Watson that he's already solved it, but he doesn't feel like telling Watson about it yet. How annoying would that be in a friend?
Despite all that, I found each story to be engagingly written and I enjoyed the content of the mysteries. My favourite was probably "Speckled Band" because I loved the idea of the crazy step-father preventing his young step-daughters from marrying with a selection of wild animals roaming the grounds. I also liked "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" because I enjoyed how Holmes decoded the new 'language'. In general, each story was action packed, full of old-fasioned things like diamonds, bizarre rituals, snakes, gentleman killers, rubies and chivalrous doctors.
So whilst my opinion of the book has improved since the age of 11, I don't think I'll be hunting down any more Sherlock Holmes as the detective genre maybe just isn't for me. I actually preferred Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" to his Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
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I tried reading Sherlock Holmes last year and found it difficult to relax into the stories as well. I felt like I should be paying attention to everything as well. Perhaps it's an expectation thing with Sherlock Holmes - although I loved the recent film amd series based on the character! :)ReplyDelete
I read Speckled Band a couple of years ago, and I remember not understanding it at all. Maybe it's time for a reread... Also, your teacher sounds awful. For me, reading those books aloud in class (in an accent) takes all the fun out of reading.ReplyDelete
When you mentioned about Sherlock Holmes being a smug, I recall this famous line by Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot: "My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world." and "... it is my business to know things".ReplyDelete
Nevertheless, I love Christie's Poirot series.
Mel - you've hit the nail on the head when you said it was hard to relax into the stories. I felt like I should be taking notes of all the clues or something!ReplyDelete
Smug, Pompous, Egotistical, self Aggrandizing,Paranoid and those were his good points.ReplyDelete
I have read a bit of Sherlock Holmes throughout my life, but I've never really enjoyed it much. I like detective stories usually, but Holmes is usually just too arrogant for me to like and the way you're never given all the clues, but instead he'll reveal some obscurity at the very end of it, annoys me.ReplyDelete
Ugh that teacher sounds AWFUL.ReplyDelete
I've never read any Sherlock before and I'm a little scared to. But my book club is reading Hound of the Baskervilles this fall, so I'll be giving Mr. Holmes a try soon...
Absolutely horrid, HORRID teacher. I'm so sorry you had to experience several classics in this manner!ReplyDelete
Oh, that's so sad that a teacher would turn children off reading because of something so trivial he decided to "teach" (probably thought that pointless exercise counted as drama--bah!). That burns me up, being a teacher & a reader. I feel the same way about mysteries--I'm usually never a step ahead of the detective but I enjoy them nonetheless :)ReplyDelete
@Coffee and a Book Chick - yes, he was a horrible teacher, although I don't think he realised he was being horrible. He had recently come over from a small Carribean island and was always going on about the "strange teaching practises" in the UK. Maybe that's just the way he had always taught ...ReplyDelete
Ugh! silly teacher. Well I'm glad he didn't turn you off reading completely. Mysteries are not really my bag either, unless they're the Dan Brown or Robin Cook kind. And even they get tiresome after a while.ReplyDelete
It is very sad that your teacher turned you off from the Sherlock Holmes canon.ReplyDelete
I read 'The Lost World' and enjoyed it - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at his best as always :)