The world’s most revered and famous fictional detective first appeared from the pen of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle almost a 130 years ago, but the author did not finish with his greatest creation until almost 40 years later even after unsuccessfully killing him off. In this first volume of all the collected works that feature Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. John Watson, the reader first meets the great detective and his friend through two short novellas, 23 short stories, and the best-known and greatest case the pair ever faced.
The two-volume collection of the original works of Conan Doyle in the American publication order, begins with the first two Holmes novelettes Study in Scarlett and The Sign of Four which are very well written stories that both introduce the main character Holmes, but also through the eyes of his friend Watson. The next 23 short stories then show the genius and resource of the London-based detective and throughout we are given references to cases we have yet to personally read. Of the those short stories I found six the best of the bunch: “A Scandal in Bohemia”, “The Five Orange Pips”, “The Man with the Twisted Lip”, “Silver Blaze”, “The Musgrave Ritual, and “The Naval Treaty”.
This volume ends with the most famous and definitely the best Sherlock Holmes story of them all, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Even though there have been numerous adaptations of this most famous novel, upon reading it one senses the place on edge, nature seeming on the verge of overpowering man, and the sounds and shadows of mysterious beings across the moor. It was no small fact that nine years after killing off Holmes, Conan Doyle wrote a novel that no only brought make his character but wrote it in such a way that made people engage with both of the main characters instantly.
There seem to be several missteps, namely “The Final Problem” which seems more to do about setting up the final struggle as is to learn more about Professor Moriarty and see the net Holmes had cast instead of just being told. There are just as many of the other short stories that are not the best than there are very good if not great. Sometimes the eye is in the beholder, but others it is not.
Upon finishing this first volume, I enjoyed reading these 26 stories. As a first time reader of Conan Doyle it was fascinating to see how more human Sherlock seems to slowly become over the course of the stories with him as their focus. In the end I can’t stress enough how you should get this book.