Monday, March 6, 2023

On the Coffee Table: The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Title: The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

via Wikipedia

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes collects twelve short stories about the world's most famous detective.  It is the final Holmes book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, published in 1927, three years before the author's death.  Critics often rate this final volume as the weakest of the short story collections, though I feel a few of the tales are worthy of note.  "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" and "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" are unusual for the fact they are told from Holmes's perspective whereas the vast majority of stories are told from Watson's.  I appreciate "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" for the rare glimpse of Holmes's deep, genuine affection for Watson.  Some of the stories veer toward other genres.  In "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," for instance, a former rugby star hires Holmes to figure out what is going on with his wife, whom he caught sucking their baby's blood at the neck.  

And so, I have reached the end of my Holmes exploration, unlikely to seek out the few uncollected stories.  I thoroughly enjoyed my romp.  I was never able to get past seeing Sherlock as Benedict Cumberbatch in 21st century garb, though Watson has a more Victorian image in my mind's eye, complete with mustache and bowler hat.  I generally preferred the short stories to the novels.  While Holmes nearly always arrives at the truth, my favorite stories are the ones in which he fails, best of all when he is out-maneuvered by a woman.

As such, my favorite story of all is one of the earliest:  "A Scandal in Bohemia," featuring Irene Adler.  Adler is one of several characters who feature more prominently in adaptations than in the original Doyle texts.  Nemesis Moriarty and brother Mycroft fall into the same category.  "Bohemia" is, in fact, Adler's only appearance in the originals.  

I am curious now about the numerous adaptations and will keep my eye out for them, especially the various earlier British television series.  

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