When it comes to the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels, there is a wide variety from which to choose. There are always those standouts that you remember (and that Wishbone sought to adapt!), and then there are others that are forgettable/racist/poorly-written or plotted. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes are written by John Watson as a much older man, thinking about previously unpublished Holmes and Watson mysteries, including the one that would set Arthur Conan Doyle against his fanbase.
I want to highlight the standouts, but there’s a slight wrinkle to that plan: namely, I read this book a few weeks back (2? 3? Guys, I just don’t even remember), and this semester’s stress has really taken a toll on my short-term reading memory. I’ll do my best, but forgive me if the details are…fuzzy. But here goes:
“Silver Blaze”: This is a favorite, because I remember watching this as a short film adaptation with my high school freshmen back when I student taught in 2008. Sherlock and John are dispatched to find a stolen racehorse and solve the mystery of a dead groom. Here, Doyle works the trope of the “hidden in plain sight” mystery really well.
“The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter”: A Greek man who has been called to translate suspects that he is complicit in illegal and dangerous activity, so he commissions Sherlock Holmes to investigate. In this story, family dignity and a woman’s honor end up at stake, and lives are in danger.
“The Final Problem”: Here, we meet Professor James Moriarty. Sherlock Holmes suspects his life is in danger and refuses to explain to Watson what the problem is. It’s too bad that the fan-canon has had to fill in the gaps, because Moriarty is a clever and crafty individual, a foe worthy of Sherlock Holmes’ mettle.
[For the record, Jared Harris, aka Lane Pryce from Mad Men is my favorite Moriarty, even if the Robert Downey, Jr. Sherlock Holmes is not my absolute favorite Sherlock reincarnation. But I digress]
But there is an infamous showdown at the Reichenbach Falls, one in which Sherlock Holmes is doomed to his end. I remember reading somewhere that Doyle was tired of Holmes and wanted to write other things, but the fans revolted. What are you going to do?
If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, give this book a read. It’s not the best start, but it jumps right into the mysteries and has lots of fun and interesting short stories that are not a challenging read at all.