Like I said in my introduction to Sherlock Holmes, I am reading through all four novels, and all fifty-six short stories starring the famous detective. Rather than just skip around and read what I am feeling at the moment, I felt it was a better idea to read the novels and stories in order of publication. That way I can get to know Holmes and Watson as they develop.
I am also going to point out one more time that while I am reading all NINE books featuring Holmes, they are only counting as ONE title on my overall list. See my introduction for clarification.
If it is even possible, I enjoyed the stories in this collection far more than those in the previous. And I really thought those were hard to top. The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes is the last collection of Holmes stories ever published by Doyle, and bring the mastery of Holmes to a close. But more on that closing at a later date.
For now, I need to focus on what makes this final collection of 12 short stories just as good, and better, than the ones that came before.
In the beginning, the Holmes stories were clever and original, which is what made them popular. But as Doyle developed Holmes, and Watson, Holmes becomes this person that is larger than life. He shows that Holmes is not immune to anything, and even he can be stumped at times. And if there were a theme to any of the stories....it would be to never give up. Holmes always seems to know that the answers will come to him if he waits.
This is never more true than in these stories. There is one story I want to talk about from the start. Throughout the series, you always seem to perceive Holmes as a person with no real human connections. He never shows deep and loving devotion to another person, and always seems to interact with his friends at a great distance. In "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs," Watson is accidentally shot (not a spoiler...I promise). Holmes reaction made the entire series for me. He transformed in a single moment into a person, not just a detective. He feared for his friend and showed real love and care. I loved it.
Another story that I got a kick out of was "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," a tale about a woman accused of sucking blood from her baby's neck. It was one that was slightly creepy, but in the end, logical (as always for a Holmes story. The paranormal is never real). I enjoyed seeing an early vampire story....where the vampire does not glitter in the sun.
The best part of these last 12 stories is that they continued to showcase Holmes and Watson in the same light. Both characters age, but do it realistically. And Doyle stays true to who he created them to be back in the beginning. For a writer who never wanted to write another Holmes story, he continued to produce amazing little mysteries. These were just as deliciously written as the first.
Again, these were more violent. One story talked about hiding a live body in a coffin with a dead body, which was a little unnerving (and a nightmare of mine). I think Doyle's diversions into the morbid was based on fan requests, otherwise, why go there?
Anyway, I have a lot more to say about Doyle and the great detective in length, but that will wait for another post-when I can sit back and think more clearly about all 56 short stories, and the full 4 novels that I have been reading since April.