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review 2020-05-28 20:52
A Scandal in Bohemia ★★★☆☆
A Scandal in Bohemia - Arthur Conan Doyle

I appreciate the intrigue, and that Holmes was actually a little delighted that he was outsmarted (and out-acted) by a woman, but I'm a little puzzled as to why the Grand Duke insists that a woman who has been blackmailing him is a "woman of her word" and won't expose him now.  


Audiobook, part of the enormous Audible "Sherlock Holmes" compilation of works read by Stephen Fry. I'm slowly working my way through it. I'll be listening to the rest of the short stories in "Adventures of" later. 

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review 2020-05-17 04:29
The Last (and Least) of Sherlock Holmes
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle

This volume contains the last two collections of Sherlock Holmes stories by Doyle. The book places Casebook first, followed by His Last Bow, although the Casebook stories were written and published after Bow. The reason for the reversal of order is that the title story of His Last Bow features an older Holmes coming out of retirement to serve as a spy catcher during World War I. It is a fitting ending place for the character, and it would have made a fine place to end the Holmes stories, but Doyle continued on.


Doyle admitted in interviews that he considered Holmes his cash cow and anytime he needed quick money he would write another Holmes story for the magazines. The stories in Casebook are not bad, but you can tell Doyle has lost interest and may have grown to dislike the character. The tone of the stories is more melodramatic than Holmes at his best. The villains are more mustache-twirly, and grizzly crime scenes are described in detail rather than being left to the reader's imagination. Two stories in Casebook are actually narrated by Holmes rather than Watson, but the results feel like a wasted opportunity. Watson always described Holmes as unfathomably brilliant, but the stories related directly by him come across almost exactly the same as Watson stories.


If you want to read the best of Sherlock Holmes, I would recommend The Adventures, Memoirs, and Return of Sherlock Holmes. Bow and Casebook are for completists.

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review 2020-01-26 13:38
Lot No. 249
Lot No. 249 (Penguin Little Black Classics) - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is credited for being the first to write an evil mummy story. This is that story. I thought it was an interesting read, not in the least because these type of Victorian horror stories would hardly be called that today. The story is in fact rather slow. But what I liked about it most was how it showed the total craze for mummies/everything Egyptian that was ongoing at the time.

~Little Black Classics #121~


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review 2019-11-23 14:14
Holmes & Watson Have an Abusive Relationship
The Return of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle

After killing off Holmes at the end of Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Doyle left the character alone for 10 years before giving in to public pressure and bringing him back in Return of Sherlock Holmes. The long break seems to have benefited Doyle as the stories in the collection are not at all repetitive and the mysteries are all clever. I enjoyed the fact that the stakes of the stories varied greatly, from an international incident that could plunge all of Europe into war in The Second Stain, to identifying the student who sneaked a peak at the Greek final exam in The Three Students. Doyle introduces some great opponents for Holmes, including the blackmailer Charles Augustus Milverton, the assassin Colonel Sebastian Moran, and Dr. Leslie Armstrong who seems to anticipate Holmes' every move.


The Holmes stories are a product of the Victorian Age, and unfortunately carry all the negative baggage of those times. Any character described as a Gypsy or Italian is almost guaranteed to be a criminal. Women are fragile and illogical, either needing to be rescued or endangering others on a whim. Aristocrats and high level government officials are noble and stoic, even when compromised.


Dr. Watson is the narrator of all these stories and I am beginning feel he is in an abusive relationship with Holmes. Back in the Adventures collection, Watson was happily married and had a successful medical practice. Holmes had to stop by Watson's house and ask him for help. In Return, Watson is living with Holmes, has sold his practice, and makes his living writing accounts of Holmes' adventures. Holmes treats him alternatively like hired muscle or like a butler, sending him to answer the door and deliver messages, or come along on investigations with his pistol at the ready. He often slips in little insults at Watson's intelligence. If they were a couple I knew in real life I would advise Watson to move on for his own mental and emotional health.

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review 2019-11-06 03:58
The Scooby Doo of the Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles - David Stuart Davies, Arthur Conan Doyle

Hound of the Baskervilles is the perfect Scooby Doo mystery. Scooby Doo plots start with a visit to a creepy secluded location. The gang finds that the locals are being terrified by a monster of some sort. After some ominous warnings that they should leave immediately, they have an encounter or two with the monster and then figure out that someone took advantage of a local legend in order to frighten everyone away so that they could claim some land or steal a fortune. That is precisely the plot of Hound of the Baskervilles. All that is missing is the villain saying "I would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for that meddling Sherlock Holmes!"


The second half of this collected edition is the Valley of Fear, the fourth and last of Doyle's Holmes novels. Doyle uses the same structure he used in Study in Scarlet, in which the first half of the novel has Holmes solve a murder and then the second half reveals the killer's elaborate backstory. Again like Study in Scarlet the backstory is set in the United States. This one involves a corrupt secret society that engages in extortion and murder. I suspect Doyle used this structure in order to write novels about characters and situations other than those of his Sherlock Holmes series and the wrap them in a Sherlock envelope to satisfy his fans.

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