The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes #9) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes
Series: Sherlock Holmes #9
Author: Arthur Doyle
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 309
Words: 84K

A bunch of short stories to round out and end the career of Sherlock Holmes. While nothing was really good, nothing was bad and I feel like this book sums up my overall experience with Holmes.

I’ve always thought I was strictly an idea guy when it came to stories and that the characters were simply meant as bones to hang the “idea” on. Well, reading Holmes has made me realize that I’ve changed and I like a good, fleshed out and relatable character. Holmes and Watson are none of those and so it makes it hard for me to enjoy these. Of course, it might just be the era that Doyle wrote in. Then I realize that Dickens didn’t write like this, at all, so I think it was all on Doyle. When I’m reading a collection of short stories like this, I don’t expect great characterization, but none of the previous novels have ever given that to me either, so I can’t even rely on that.

While I am glad to have finally read the entire Holmes canon, I don’t foresee myself ever wanting to re-read these. I want something more than they offer and I don’t think the future me is suddenly going to want that “lack” and thus desire to try these again 😀


His Last Bow (Sherlock Holmes #8) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: His Last Bow
Series: Sherlock Holmes #8
Author: Arthur Doyle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 233
Words: 67K

I went into this thinking this was the final entry in the Sherlock Holmes canon by Doyle. Another fine collection of short stories. But when I clicked the button on my kindle to turn what I thought was the final page, it appears that there is another whole book, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, after this one. I must admit, that stuck in my mind more than any of the stories in this collection did.

There was not a bad story here. I don’t remember thinking, even once, “Man, I wish this story had been cut”. But at the same time, nothing was very memorable either. I hesitate to call this collection mediocre but it is really leaning that way. If it weren’t for Sherlock Holmes being such a foundational character to the whole mystery genre, I think I would have labeled this mediocre.

I have not been tagging any of these Holmes reviews with the “classic” tag because I have not really enjoyed the stories. But the truth of the matter is that these stories have shown they have staying power and still interest people today. So I am adding that tag to this review and am mentally adding it to my previous reviews (mentally only, because I don’t care enough to go and do the actual work. Ain’t nobody got time for ‘dat!).

Thinking about my feelings about Doyle and his whoring out by writing more Sherlock stories even when he was done with the character brought to mind his modern counterpart and opposite, GRR Martin. Doyle tried to kill off his series and end it while Martin has simply refused to finish his series and admitted that the tv show ending is all that fans are going to get. On one hand I castigate Doyle for being a literary whore and on the other I castigate Martin for being a bastard. Authors just can’t win with me. Which is why I like my authors either dead or as names only and not as people.

The reason I write that is because reading a book, or a series of books, involves more than just the words on the page. Our emotions are part of the process, whether good or bad and we have to realize that. Which is why it is important to follow a blogger over a longer period of time (more than a week, for goodness sake!) to see how they judge things. Just because somebody likes Dune by Frank Herbert doesn’t mean my tastes are going to align with theirs most of the time. And just because I rate a favorite book of yours highly doesn’t mean I’m going to review books that you want to see reviewed. The whole intersection between book reviewing and blogging is still on my mind and so these peculiar thoughts pop up at the oddest times and I have to get them out where I can so I don’t forget about them. I realize it can overshadow the book itself (I think I’ve written more about this than the actual book) but I don’t read books in a vacuum and is part of the whole blogging experience. Trying to divorce myself from that aspect of writing is what led me to take off the whole month of October this year.

When I read a book, tangential thoughts pop up like moles. And when I go to write about that tangential thought in the review, it can lead me down paths that have almost nothing to do with the book in question. I do try to be careful and post the road signs so I’m not just jumping from one random thought to another, but sometimes that happens because it happens in my head.

All of that is a roundabout way of saying that just because a particular review might be short doesn’t mean I don’t have a boatload of thoughts on the book. Most of the time I just don’t want to go down the rabbit trails and all the various cliffs they inevitably lead to. Sherlock Holmes might be able to read my mind by knowing my word choice, but I don’t expect any of you who follow me to do such a thing.

And if you think this review was incoherent and chaotic, you’re correct. I had to do a 12hr fast for blood work labs and was wicked hungry when I wrote this. Tough to think straight when all you can have is water :-/


The Valley of Fear (Sherlock Holmes #7) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Valley of Fear
Series: Sherlock Holmes #7
Author: Arthur Doyle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 200
Words: 58K


The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes #6) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Hound of the Baskervilles
Series: Sherlock Holmes #6
Author: Arthur Doyle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 317
Words: 86K


The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes #5) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Return of Sherlock Holmes
Series: Sherlock Holmes #5
Author: Arthur Doyle
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 420
Words: 114K


Table of Contents

“The Adventure of the Empty House”

“The Adventure of the Norwood Builder”

“The Adventure of the Dancing Men”

“The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist”

“The Adventure of the Priory School”

“The Adventure of Black Peter”

“The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton”

“The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”

“The Adventure of the Three Students”

“The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez”

“The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter”

“The Adventure of the Abbey Grange”

“The Adventure of the Second Stain”

My Thoughts:

While Sherlock returns from what should have been certain death, in this collection, it wasn’t the fantastic return it should have been. Doyle seems to have run out of vim and vigor and most of these stories felt very plodd’y. To the point he abandons all continuity and has Sherlock and Watson once again living at 221B Baker Street. Mrs Watson seems to have been disappeared, to the point where I had to wonder why Doyle had ever introduced her in the first place.

All of these were new to me except for the Dancing Men and even that I had forgotten pretty much everything except that the dancing men were a code. With all new (to me) stories, I have to admit I was hoping for a bit more punch and some rock-em-sock-em robot action. What I got was workmanlike stories written to pay the bills.

Personally, I don’t see why “I” should be punished by Doyle’s bad attitude; “I” didn’t ask him to write more Sherlock. He did that all on his own because going out and earning a living with his hands was too much for the namby-pamby wuss. He should have become a land surveyor, that’d put hair on his chest, pennies in his pocket and mush on the table. But nope, instead he churns out spiritless stories and the hoi poloi of his time are too stupid to even reject them. So here I am, left with a legacy of spiritless stupidity. My goodness, the stuff I put up with just to write reviews. And I’m not even getting paid. And if I was getting paid, I’d spit in the eye of the company paying me because only book hookers write reviews for money.

Ok, enough of that.

Despite my complaining, there was nothing bad about this collection. It just didn’t feel inspired and for a 400+ page book, you a little inspiration to keep that plodd’y feeling away.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes #4) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Series: Sherlock Holmes #4
Author: Arthur Doyle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 322
Words: 87K


Table of Contents

Silver Blaze

The Yellow Face

The Stock-broker’s Clerk

The “Gloria Scott”

The Musgrave Ritual

The Reigate Puzzle

The Crooked Man

The Resident Patient

The Greek Interpreter

The Naval Treaty

The Final Problem

My Thoughts:

This is the book where Sherlock Holmes so infamously dies. I say infamously because apparently Doyle had the spine of a jellyfish and when the bills came knocking he immediately caved, resurrected Holmes and lived off of his creation. He SHOULD have created another character, called Berlahp Sax and used him instead. Whatever. Doyle is dead so he won’t be listening to any advice I might have had for him.

I enjoyed this more than the previous “Adventures of…” and I think that is because I am not sure if I’ve ever actually read this book or not. I’m pretty sure I read all of Sherlock in highschool but I really can’t remember. So this was all brand new stories to me. That makes a huge difference.

Moriarty is introduced in the final story and everything concerning him takes place in that one short story. None of this silly Long Story Arc building up the dramatic tension. He’s a bad guy, Sherlock clobbers him, metaphorically speaking, and eventually they go mano-a-mano and fall over a cliff. It was a great ending to the story of Sherlock. Personally, if there had been no more Sherlock stories I would have been perfectly happy with how things turned out.

Since that is not how things will be however, I am just as pleased to go on reading more stories about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes #3) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Series: Sherlock Holmes #3
Author: Arthur Doyle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 360
Words: 104K



“A Scandal in Bohemia” July 1891

The King of Bohemia engages Holmes to recover an indiscreet photograph showing him with the renowned beauty, adventuress and opera singer Irene Adler‍—‌the revelation of which would derail his marriage to a daughter of the King of Scandinavia. In disguise, Holmes witnesses Adler marry the man she truly loves, then by means of an elaborate stratagem discovers the photograph’s hiding place. But when Holmes and the king return to retrieve the photo, they find Adler has fled the country with it, leaving behind a letter for Holmes and a portrait of herself for the King. The king allows Holmes to retain the portrait as a souvenir.

“The Red-Headed League” August 1891

Jabez Wilson, a pawnbroker, consults Holmes about a job, gained only because of his red hair, which took him away from his shop for long periods each day; the job for to simply copy the Encyclopædia Britannica. After eight weeks, he was suddenly informed that the job ended. After some investigation at Wilson’s shop, Holmes contacts a police inspector and the manager of a nearby bank. With Watson, they hide in the bank vault and catch two thieves who had dug a tunnel from the shop while Wilson was at the decoy copying job.

“A Case of Identity” September 1891

Against the wishes of her stepfather, Mary Sutherland has become engaged to Hosmer Angel. On the morning of their wedding Hosmer elicits a promise that Mary will remain faithful to him “even if something quite unforeseen” occurs, then mysteriously disappears en route to the church. Holmes deduces that Hosmer was Mary’s stepfather in disguise, the charade a bid to keep Mary a spinster and thus maintain access to her inheritance. Holmes does not reveal the truth to Mary because “There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman”; he had already advised her to put the matter behind her, though she responded that Hosmer “shall find me ready when he comes back.” At the end, Mary’s stepfather escapes and Sherlock Holmes predicts he will commit more crimes.

“The Boscombe Valley Mystery” October 1891

Inspector Lestrade asks for Holmes’s help after Charles McCarthy is murdered, and his son, James, is implicated. McCarthy, and another local landowner, John Turner, are both Australian expatriates, and Lestrade was originally engaged by Turner’s daughter, Alice, who believes James is innocent. Holmes interviews James, and then inspects the scene of the murder, deducing a third man was present. Realising Holmes has solved the case, Turner confesses to the crime, revealing that McCarthy was blackmailing him due to Turner’s criminal past. Holmes does not reveal the crime, but secures James’s release because of the presence of a third person at the crime scene.

“The Five Orange Pips” November 1891

John Openshaw tells Holmes that in 1883 his uncle died two months after receiving a letter inscribed “K.K.K.” with five orange pips enclosed, and that in 1885 his father died soon after receiving a similar letter; now Openshaw himself has received such a letter. Holmes tells him to do as the letter asks and leave a diary page, which Holmes deduces is connected to the Ku Klux Klan, on the garden sundial. Openshaw is killed before he can do so, but Holmes discovers the killers have been travelling on a sailing ship, and sends the captain a letter with five orange pips. The ship is lost at sea.

“The Man with the Twisted Lip” December 1891

Neville St. Clair, a respectable businessman, has disappeared and his wife claims she saw him at the upper window of an opium den. Rushing upstairs to the room she found only a beggar who denied any knowledge of St. Clair – whose clothes are later found in the room, and his coat, laden with coins, in the River Thames outside the window. The beggar is arrested, but a few days later St. Clair’s wife receives a letter from her husband. Holmes concludes, then proves, that the beggar is actually St. Clair in disguise; he confesses that he has been leading a double life as a beggar, making more money that way than in his nominal work.

“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” January 1892

A “Blue Carbuncle” is stolen from a hotel suite, and a former felon is soon arrested. However, an acquaintance of Holmes discovers the carbuncle in the throat of a Christmas goose. Holmes traces the owner of the goose, but soon determines that he was not the thief by offering him a replacement goose. The detective continues his search, first to an inn and then a dealer in Covent Garden. The dealer refuses to provide Holmes with information about the source of the goose, but Holmes observes another man trying to find the same information, and confronts him. The man, the head attendant at the hotel, confesses to his crime. Holmes allows him to remain free, arguing that prison could make him a hardened criminal later.

“The Adventure of the Speckled Band” February 1892

Helen Stoner worries her stepfather may be trying to kill her after he contrives to move her to the bedroom where her sister had died two years earlier, shortly before her wedding. Stoner is herself now engaged, and Holmes learns that her stepfather’s annuity (from the estate of his wife‍—‌Stoner’s mother) would be greatly reduced if either sister married. During a late-night investigation of the bedroom, Holmes and Watson discover a dummy bell-pull near a ventilator. As they lie in wait a whistle sounds, then a snake appears through the ventilator. Holmes attacks the snake with his riding crop; it retreats to the next room, where it attacks and kills Stoner’s stepfather.

“The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb” March 1892

An engineer, Victor Hatherley, attends Dr Watson’s surgery after his thumb is chopped off, and recounts his tale to Watson and Holmes. Hatherley had been hired for 50 guineas to repair a machine he was told compressed Fuller’s earth into bricks. Hatherley was told to keep the job confidential, and was transported to the job in a carriage with frosted glass, to keep the location secret. He was shown the press, but on closer inspection discovered a “crust of metallic deposit” on the press, and he suspected it was not being used for compressing Fuller’s earth. He confronted his employer, who attacked him, and during his escape his thumb is chopped off. Holmes deduces that the press is being used to produce counterfeit coins, and works out its location. However, when they arrive, the house is on fire, and the criminals have escaped.

“The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor” April 1892

Lord Robert St. Simon’s new American bride, Hatty Doran, has disappeared almost immediately after the wedding. The servants had prevented an old love interest of his from forcing her way into the wedding breakfast, Hatty had been seen in whispered conversation with her maid, and Inspector Lestrade arrives with the news that Hatty’s wedding dress and ring have been found floating in the Serpentine. Holmes quickly solves the mystery, locating Hatty at a hotel with a mysterious, “common-looking” man who had picked up her dropped bouquet after the ceremony. The man turns out to be Hatty’s husband Frank, whom she had thought dead in America, and who had managed to locate her only moments before she was to marry Lord St. Simon. Frank and Hatty had just determined to go to Lord St. Simon in order to explain the situation when Holmes found them.

“The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet” May 1892

A banker asks Holmes to investigate after a “Beryl Coronet” entrusted to him is damaged at his home. Awakened by noise, he had found his son, Arthur, holding the damaged coronet. Arthur refuses to speak, neither admitting guilt nor explaining himself. Footprints in the snow outside the house tell Holmes that the banker’s niece had conspired with a blackguard to steal the coronet; Arthur had discovered the crime in progress and the coronet had been damaged during his struggle to prevent it being stolen. He had refused to tell his father the truth of the crime because of his love for his cousin.

“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” June 1892

Violet Hunter consults Holmes after being offered a governess job subject to a number of unusual conditions, including cutting her hair short. The wage is extremely high, £120, and she decides to accept the job, though Holmes tells her to contact him if she needs to. After a number of strange occurrences, including the discovery of a sealed-off wing of the house, she does so. Holmes discovers that someone had been kept prisoner in the wing, but when Holmes, Watson and Hunter enter, it is empty. They are accused of freeing the prisoner, who was the daughter of Hunter’s employer, who sets his dog on them, though it attacks him instead. It is revealed that Hunter had been hired to impersonate her employer’s daughter so that her fiancé would believe she was no longer interested in seeing him, but the daughter had escaped and the pair later married.

My Thoughts:

I remembered the gist of almost all the stories from my read in 2009, so this wasn’t a taut read. More comfortable really. Like putting on a pair of old slippers.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Sign of Four ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Sign of Four
Series: Sherlock Holmes #2
Author: Arthur Doyle
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 171
Words: 49K



Set in 1888, The Sign of the Four has a complex plot involving service in India, the Indian Mutiny of 1857, a stolen treasure, and a secret pact among four convicts (“the Four” of the title) and two corrupt prison guards. It presents Holmes’s drug habit and humanizes him in a way that had not been done in the preceding novel, A Study in Scarlet (1887). It also introduces Dr. Watson’s future wife, Mary Morstan.

According to Mary, in December 1878, her father had telegraphed her upon his safe return from India and requested her to meet him at the Langham Hotel in London. When Mary arrived at the hotel, she was told her father had gone out the previous night and not returned. Despite all efforts, no trace was ever found of him. Mary contacted her father’s only friend who was in the same regiment and had since retired to England, one Major John Sholto, but he denied knowing her father had returned. The second puzzle is that she has received six pearls in the mail from an anonymous benefactor, one per year since 1882, after answering an anonymous newspaper query inquiring for her. With the last pearl she received a letter remarking that she has been wronged and asking for a meeting. Holmes takes the case and soon discovers that Major Sholto had died in 1882 and that within a short span of time Mary began to receive the pearls, implying a connection. The only clue Mary can give Holmes is a map of a fortress found in her father’s desk with the names of Jonathan Small, Mahomet Singh, Abdullah Khan and Dost Akbar.

Holmes, Watson, and Mary meet Thaddeus Sholto, the son of the late Major Sholto and the anonymous sender of the pearls. Thaddeus confirms the Major had seen Mary’s father the night he died; they had arranged a meeting to divide a priceless treasure Sholto had brought home from India. While quarrelling over the treasure, Captain Morstan—long in weak health—suffered a heart attack. Not wanting to bring attention to the object of the quarrel—and also worried that circumstances would suggest that he had killed Morstan in an argument, particularly since Morstan’s head struck the corner of the chest as he fell—Sholto disposed of the body and hid the treasure. However, Sholto himself suffered from poor health and an enlarged spleen (possibly due to malaria, as a quinine bottle stands by his bed). His health deteriorated when he received a letter from India in early 1882. Dying, he called his two sons and confessed to Morstan’s death; he was about to divulge the location of the treasure when he suddenly cried, “Keep him out!” before falling back and dying. The puzzled sons glimpsed a face in the window, but the only trace was a single footstep in the dirt. On their father’s body is a note reading “The Sign of the Four”. Both brothers quarrelled over whether a legacy should be left to Mary, and Thaddeus left his brother Bartholomew, taking a chaplet and sending its pearls to her. The reason he sent the letter is that Bartholomew has found the treasure and possibly Thaddeus and Mary might confront him for a division of it. All of the party travel to the Sholto family home, Pondicherry Lodge in Upper Norwood, to confront brother Bartholomew.

Bartholomew is found dead in his home from a poisoned dart and the treasure is missing. While the police wrongly take Thaddeus in as a suspect, Holmes deduces that there are two persons involved in the murder: a one-legged man, Jonathan Small, and a small accomplice. He traces them to a boat landing where Small has hired a steam launch named the Aurora. With the help of dog Toby that he sends Watson to collect from Mr. Sherman, the Baker Street Irregulars and his own disguise, Holmes traces the steam launch. In a police steam launch Holmes and Watson chase the Aurora and capture it, but in the process end up killing the small companion after he attempts to kill Holmes with a poisoned dart shot from a blow-pipe. Small tries to escape but is captured. However, the iron treasure box is empty; Small claims to have dumped the treasure over the side during the chase.

Small confesses that years before he was a soldier of the Third Buffs in India and lost his right leg to a crocodile while bathing in the Ganges. After some time, when he was an overseer on a tea plantation, the 1857 rebellion occurred and he was forced to flee for his life to the Agra fortress. While standing guard one night he was overpowered by two Sikh troopers, who gave him a choice of being killed or being an accomplice to waylaying a disguised servant of a rajah who had sent said servant with a valuable fortune in pearls and jewels to the British for safekeeping. The robbery and murder took place and the crime was discovered, although the jewels were not. Small got penal servitude on the Andaman Islands.

After twenty years, Small overheard that Major Sholto had lost much money gambling and couldn’t even sell his commission, necessitating his resignation. Small saw his chance and made a deal with Sholto and Captain Morstan: Sholto would recover the treasure and in return send a boat to pick up Small and the Sikhs. Sholto double-crossed both Morstan and Small and stole the treasure for himself after inheriting a fortune from his uncle. Small vowed vengeance and four years later escaped the Andaman Islands with an islander named Tonga after they both killed a prison guard. It was the news of his escape that shocked Sholto into his fatal illness. Small arrived too late to hear of the treasure’s location, but left the note which referred to the name of the pact between himself and his three Sikh accomplices. When Bartholomew found the treasure, Small planned to only steal it, but claims a miscommunication led Tonga to kill Bartholomew as well. Small claims the treasure brought nothing but bad luck to anyone who came in touch with it—the servant who was murdered; Sholto living with fear and guilt; and now he himself is trapped in slavery for life—half his life building a breakwater in the Andaman Islands and the rest of his life digging drains in Dartmoor Prison.

Mary is left without the bulk of the Agra treasure, although she will apparently receive the rest of the chaplet. Watson falls in love with Mary and it is revealed at the end that he proposed to her and she has accepted.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this read much more than I did back in ’08. There were a couple of factors involved in that and I’ll touch on them momentarily. But first, Holmes’ drug use. I don’t have a woke view of it, ie, Oh, we’re so enlightened and we must despise and denigrate the Past because it doesn’t live up to Our Modern Ideals, but I do take it as a serious warning about just what we put into our bodies. If you didn’t know, my wife and I are Seventh Day Adventists and one of the tenets is the Health Message. Alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs are not to be taken. In the earlier days, it went farther than that. ANY stimulant was considered dangerous and their long term (usually unknown at the time) effects far outweighed the immediate gain one got. I bring this up specifically because of caffeine. If you didn’t know, besides being an SDA, I am also an energy drink addict and I am beginning to see the effects of massive doses and long term use. All of that is to say that just because something doesn’t have an immediate negative effect on you doesn’t make it good. Makes me want to adhere to the health message that much more!

Ok, on the bits directly about this book 😀

First, since I had just watched Season One of Sherlock, I was trying to find connections. The first and most obvious is Watson’s future wife. She’s in the second episode, the Blind Banker and she’s in the second story. Also, 1 man steals something that doesn’t belong to him and suffers the consequences. That one is a bit of a stretch but it is still there.

Another reason I enjoyed this was because the “flashback” is simply told as a tale and as such there is no confusion and it is very easy to tell just what is going on, AND when it is going on. This was a longer book than the previous but it didn’t feel that way. The speedboat chase near the end and the completely unrepentant attitude of Small about the treasure (he tosses it little by little into the Thames while they are being chased so that NO ONE can have it) just made me laugh. That quirk of human nature that assumes such proprietary ownership over something (in this case a bunch of jewels that Small helped murder and steal for) even when it is completely wrong just makes me laugh.

The tv show, at least in season one, has Sherlock sneering at the police and publicly demeaning them and basically alienating them, usually on purpose, any chance he gets. It’s the usual disdain of the media companies showing through for the lawful authorities. In the books however, Sherlock, while saying he is much smarter than them, doesn’t disparage them and is fine with giving them the credit. He wants them to succeed, even if it ends up falling on his shoulders. There is the proper respect for authority exhibited in the books and I really do like that.

I read through pretty quickly and enjoyed it.

And while our buddywatch of Sherlock has ended, I see no reason not to link to SavageDave’s review from 2019: The Sign of Four

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Study in Scarlet ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: A Study in Scarlet
Series: Sherlock Holmes #1
Author: Arthur Doyle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 150
Words: 43K



Part I: The Reminiscences of Watson

In 1881, Doctor John Watson has returned to London after serving in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. He is looking for a place to live, and an old friend tells him that Sherlock Holmes is looking for someone to split the rent at a flat at 221B Baker Street but cautions Watson about Holmes’s eccentricities. Holmes and Watson meet, and after assessing each other and the rooms, they move in. Holmes reveals that he is a “consulting detective” and that his frequent guests are clients. After a demonstration of Holmes’s deductive skills, Watson’s disbelief turns into astonishment.

A telegram requests a consultation in a murder case. Watson accompanies Holmes to the crime scene, an abandoned house on Brixton Road. Inspectors Gregson and Lestrade are already on the scene. The victim is identified as Enoch Drebber, and documents found on his person reveal that he has a secretary, Joseph Stangerson. On one wall, written in red, is “RACHE” (German for “revenge”), which Holmes dismisses as a ploy to fool the police. He deduces that the victim died from poison and supplies a description of the murderer. Upon moving Drebber’s body, they discover a woman’s gold wedding ring.

Holmes places notices in several newspapers about the ring and buys a facsimile of it, hoping to draw the murderer – who has apparently already tried to retrieve the ring – out of hiding. An old woman answers the advertisement, claiming that the ring belongs to her daughter. Holmes gives her the duplicate and follows her, but she evades him. This leads Holmes to believe that she was an accomplice, or perhaps the actual murderer in disguise.

A day later, Gregson visits Holmes and Watson, telling them that he has arrested a suspect. He had gone to Madame Charpentier’s Boarding House where Drebber and Stangerson had stayed before the murder. He learned from her that Drebber, a drunk, had attempted to kiss Mrs. Charpentier’s daughter, Alice, which caused their immediate eviction. Drebber, however, came back later that night and attempted to grab Alice, prompting her older brother to attack him. He attempted to chase Drebber with a cudgel but claimed to have lost sight of him. Gregson has him in custody on this circumstantial evidence.

Lestrade then arrives and reveals that Stangerson has been murdered. His body was found near his hotel window, stabbed through the heart; above it was written “RACHE”. The only things Stangerson had with him were a novel, a pipe, a telegram saying “J.H. is in Europe”, and a small box containing two pills. Holmes tests the pills on an old and sickly Scottish terrier in residence at Baker Street. The first pill produces no evident effect, but the second kills the terrier. Holmes deduces that one was harmless and the other poison.

Just at that moment, a very young street urchin named Wiggins arrives. He is the leader of the Baker Street Irregulars, a group of street children Holmes employs to help him occasionally. Wiggins states that he’s summoned the cab Holmes wanted. Holmes sends him down to fetch the cabby, claiming to need help with his luggage. When the cabby comes upstairs and bends for the trunk, Holmes handcuffs and restrains him. He then announces the captive cabby as Jefferson Hope, the murderer of Drebber and Stangerson.

Part II: “The Country of the Saints”

The story flashes back to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah in 1847, where John Ferrier and a little girl named Lucy, the only survivors of a small party of pioneers, are rescued from death by a large party of Latter-day Saints led by Brigham Young, but only on the condition that they adopt and live under the Mormon faith. Years later, a now-grown Lucy befriends and falls in love with a man named Jefferson Hope. However, Young forbids her from marrying outside the faith, and demands that she marry either Joseph Stangerson or Enoch Drebber, both sons of members of the church’s Council of Four. Ferrier, who has adopted Lucy and sworn to never marry his daughter to a Mormon, immediately sends word to Hope.

Lucy is given one month to choose between her suitors. Hope finally arrives on the eve of the last day and they all escape under cover of darkness. The Mormons intercept the escapees while Hope is away hunting, as their food had run out. Ferrier is killed while Lucy is forcibly married to Drebber and dies a month later from a broken heart. Hope breaks into Drebber’s house the night before Lucy’s funeral to kiss her body and remove her wedding ring. He swears vengeance on Drebber and Stangerson, but he begins to suffer from an aortic aneurysm, causing him to leave the mountains to earn money and recuperate. When he returns several years later, he learns that Drebber and Stangerson have fled Salt Lake City after a schism between the Mormons. Hope pursues them, eventually tracking them to Cleveland, then to Europe.

In London, Hope becomes a cabby and eventually finds Drebber and Stangerson. After the altercation with Madame Charpentier’s son, Drebber gets into Hope’s cab and spends several hours drinking. Eventually, Hope takes him to the house on Brixton Road, where Hope forces Drebber to recognize him and to choose between two pills, one of which is harmless and the other poison. Drebber takes the poisoned pill, and as he dies, Hope shows him Lucy’s wedding ring. The excitement coupled with his aneurysm causes his nose to bleed; he uses the blood to write “RACHE” on the wall above Drebber to confound the investigators. Stangerson, on learning of Drebber’s murder, refuses to leave his hotel room. Hope climbs in through the window and gives Stangerson the same choice of pills, but he is attacked and nearly strangled by Stangerson and forced to stab him in the heart.

Hope dies from his aneurysm the night before he is to appear in court. Holmes reveals to Watson how he had deduced the identity of the murderer, then shows Watson the newspaper; Lestrade and Gregson are given full credit. Outraged, Watson states that Holmes should record the adventure and publish it. Upon Holmes’s refusal, Watson decides to do it himself.

My Thoughts:

Back in the 90’s I’m 99% (see what I did there? Clever eh?) sure I read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon by Doyle. Fast forward a decade and I realized I didn’t have them reviewed and so began a desultory read through that lasted for all of 5 years and 4 books. I hadn’t begun my Reading Rotation yet and so everything was hit and miss. Well, fast forward to now and the Iron Fist of Bookstooge has set its sights on Sherlock.

Of course, I can’t really take all the credit. Dave started a Sundays with Sherlock series of posts back in late ’19 and that’s what actually got me thinking about Sherlock again. It’s just taken me this long to actually DO something about it 😀

This was written with the intention of introducing Holmes and Watson and as such, it does a very creditable job at it. The first part of the story is all from Watson’s view and sets the tone for the series as Watson as sidekick and observer. Holmes is actually pretty “normal” and while not playing a small part, plays a smaller part than I was expecting.

The shift of tone and narration in the second part was a bit jarring. There is no reason given for the abrupt change or lead in to help us know why we’re suddenly changing venues. It is not until part way through that we (ie, I) realize this is the backstory of the murderer and is setting up all of the reasons for him doing what has been chronicled so far. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the Mormons but if you know your history you’ll also know they don’t HAVE a pretty picture for a past. My personal experience with Mormons has been almost exclusively limited to those who have gotten out of that cult and their stories about the fear and coercion used to try to get them back are pretty scary. The only good thing I can say about them is that they have produced a pretty good crop of SFF writers like Timothy Zahn, Larry Correia and Orson Card. There might be more authors I enjoy who are also mormons that I don’t know about.

Once it is made evident why this backstory is being shown and why the murderer is doing what he’s doing, he moves out of the Monster in the Shadows territory to Sympathetic Character Taking Justice Into His Own Hands.

This was a good read and I am looking forward to the rest of the Sherlock Canon over the coming months and years. Whether he is or not, I consider Sherlock to be the foundation of the Mystery Genre and as such want to get it under my belt (much like my Shakespeare reads). These stories have stood the test of time and I think I am richer for reading them.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.