Thursday, 8 August 2013

Book review: The Complete Sherlock Holmes vol.1

I feel like I've probably read all of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories at some point or another, but how to know for sure if there's any I haven't quite caught? I got a four-volume Complete works downloaded onto the kindle and went back to the start, with the first volume covering A Study In Scarlet, The Sign of Four and the first short-story collection, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I'd re-read the first novel comparatively recently so it didn't hold many surprises, and its structure is a bit heavy handed (the first half of the novel is the investigation, the second half the background to the case, not exactly a slick whodunnit) but still enjoyable.

The Sign of Four also features an international backstory although Doyle manages to weave it into the investigation part of the novel a bit more successfully this time. The short stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes include many I remembered quite well, like "The Five Orange Pips" - it's interesting, and not in a good way, that at the end of the 19th century the Ku Klux Klan are treated as the almost-defunct, entirely obscure fodder for a crime story, but in the following century they'd had enough of a resurgence that the letters "KKK" appearing on threatening letters makes the reader instantly guess their meaning.

By the end of three books in a row I was ready for a break from Conan Doyle but there's no denying these stories are more re-readable than most.

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