Monday, September 20, 2010

The Complete Sherlock Holmes: Finished.

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.

Completing all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels is one of the biggest accomplishments of this project so far. 56 short stories and 4 novels is a lot of material on a couple of characters. And while Doyle never gave me all the details and the full background on either Holmes or Watson, I have learned to regard these two men as close friends. I know them, and I know their stories. In a crisis situation, I would know who I could rely on, and who to turn to.

But learning about these two men was not all that I learned. I am sure that my own deduction skills have improved. :) I also learned a great deal about crime in the era that Holmes and Watson lived in. And while these stories didn't have all of the fancy equipment and lab items that you might see on CSI, they tricked me more times than I figured them out.

More than that, this series showed me that it is not just in our generation that characters became so well-loved and like. With our addictions to series like Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games, the characters and terminology from those books lives on in our everyday chatter. I would argue that Sherlock Holmes has permeated even further. We all see the sign of a detective when we see his signature hat, his cloak, and the magnifying glass up to his eye. Those are the signs of a lasting impression of literature on the world. Personally, I would rather remember a dazzling and intelligent detective over a vampire who sparkles in the sunlight.

These stories have lasted and become such a part of our culture for a reason. Holmes is the ultimate detective-a man who lives by his own rules and seems to love no one (except maybe Watson). He works to prove his intelligence and to show that there can be an explanation for almost everything.

Sherlock Holmes will forever be a part of the literary canon. He is a figure and a character that we will always remember.

I think Doyle says it best. In the introduction to The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, Doyle says the following,

"I fear that Sherlock Holmes may become like one of those popular tenors who, having outlived their time, are still tempted to make repeated farewell bows to their indulgent audiences...His career has been a long one...It is a striking example of the patience and loyalty of the British public."

Yes, Holmes perhaps outlived his legacy, but Doyle would probably be surprised at how the public has held on to his character. I don't think Doyle ever could have dreamed that in 2009 there would be a movie made about the famous detective that he attempted to off, but had to bring back to life because of public demand.

That shows the power of literature and the effect it can have on those who cherish it.

In any case, I can finally cross off The Complete Sherlock Holmes from my list and move on. But I know I will be returning to these stories and novels in the future...many, many times.


  1. You are far, far stronger than I! I've never had the best luck with Sherlock Holmes stories, but I've never been terribly involved with mysteries in the first place. I would consider this a huge accomplishment! Loved reading your review and what you've learned from the experience.

  2. I admit, the sheer bredth of the Holmes works intimidates me.

  3. Well done! As well as the various films and TV adaptations, there are lots of "unofficial" Holmes novels and pastiches, some of which are excellent and some of which are pretty dreadful.

  4. Congrats on your achievement! Now you have to start reading Laurie King's Mary Russell series. :D

  5. Congratulations on finishing the complete series! I may have given up halfway through - it's hard for me to read too much of the same thing. Way to stick with it!

  6. oooh - I just love the Sherlock Holmes stories - when we were teenagers my sister and me used to read and discuss them maaaany times. :") So much fun - I might read them soon again. I am happy Sherlock Holmes did not disapoint you - then a series can become quite exhausting.. ;")

  7. Amazing! I have had The Complete Sherlock Holmes sitting on my shelf (actually, in one of many boxes of books in storage) for probably three years. I want to read it so bad - and I too want to read them all in sequence. I'm not sure when I'll ever get to it, though.

  8. Congrats! I want to try this series, at some point...

  9. wow way to go. I do not like mysteries. So my experience with Sherlock Holmes was not pleasant. I should give him a try again though when I am next in a mystery mood. If ever...

  10. This really is an excellent accomplishment - I'm so proud of you for reading the entire cannon! Might I suggest that you next try out Laurie R. King's book The Beekeeper's Apprentice? Don't try it right away, but definitely pick it up in a few months - I think you'll really enjoy it.

  11. I've been going back and forth trying to decide whether or not I want to start reading the four novels in October. Your endorsement might have sealed the deal.

    Well done.

  12. Andi: To be honest, I am not a mystery fan. Before the Holmes stories, the only mysteries I read were 2 Christie novels and some Mary Higgins Clark back in middle school! I tend to stay away from them, since I seem to equate them with horror, and that is NOT a genre I enjoy...

    Amanda: It intimidated me too. I mean, when I made my list I was originally going to break it down before just leaving it as a complete title. I had to take breaks because it was A LOT of the same characters. Where in series like Harry Potter you get to intimately know the characters, in Holmes' stories you don't. And while I know Holmes better than I thought I would, I really don't know all THAT much about him as a person.

    Falaise: I am definitely going to have to check out some of the novels and movies that are out. I actually just watched the newest Sherlock Holmes movie with Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. and I surprisingly liked it. I heard that it got negative reviews because people didn't like how Holmes solved the mystery, but I found it pretty true to his character!

    Eva: Thanks! I already have them on my TBR list. :)

  13. Brenna: Thanks! It got a little rough, but I spaced it out over 6 months, so that wasn't too bad.

    Frl. Irene Palfy: I'm glad you enjoyed them! I read a few of them back in high school and liked them, but I never got around to reading more of them. I'm glad I have now, and I am looking forward to rereading them in smaller doses in the future.

    Roof Beam Reader: Go for it! While there is a lot, they were surprisingly easy to get through. The stories aren't too long and make for great reading in quick bursts.

    kenpen: I'm glad to see another fan!

    Jillian: Thanks! I know I have made that same comment many, many times. ;)

    Rebecca Reid: I'm not a fan of mysteries either. I seem to think that they all are also horror novels, which is a genre I don't enjoy, so I never pick them off the shelf. I don't fare well with being scared, so I need nice, tame stories, which these were. There were some duds, but I liked many of them!

    Heather J: Aw, thank you! I actually have that title down on the TBR list and it sounds interesting.

    everybookandcranny: Oh, I'm glad you're going to give them a go! The Hound of the Baskervilles is by far the best, but looking back on them, I also really enjoyed A Study in Scarlet. Good luck reading them!

  14. Congrats Allie! I've only read two of his stories and didn't really enjoy them. Do you have a favorite you'd recommend I try to see if maybe I just happened to hit two not-so-great ones? I really want to like them! :)

  15. Lindsey: Thanks. There were a lot that I loved, but for a lot of different reasons. I think the best and most-loved stories are all in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The Adventure of the Speckled Band is in that collection and it one of the most well-known.

    Personally, I really enjoyed the stories in the last two collections best (His Last Bow and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes). They were a lot deeper than some of the others.

  16. We just watched the movie last night, and I have to say after reading your review and enjoying the movie so much that I may have to read a couple of the stories. I really like detective stories. If you haven't seen the movie, you need to. It was very well done and well-acted. Robert Downey Jr is a great Holmes.

  17. I am in the process of a similar project (to read all of Sherlock Holmes) and am finding it fascinating. It's also quite interesting to compare Holmes' methods of deduction and reasoning with the process that happens in real life when there is a homocide. My DH is a homicide detective and it's quite different from all this Victorian methodology. :-)

    There is also an intriguing book (2010) by David Grann which covers the mystery of how the world's most foremost SH expert died (was killed?) perhaps he knew too much about Conan Doyle's secret papers. Very intriguing, I thought, and if you're not too burned out on Doyle, it might be a good read for you.