For the first time ever (probably in the history of all book reviews), I’ve decided to put two reviews in the one blog post.  Gasp!  I know, outrageous.  First this, what next?  I’ll probably go out and get a tattoo or something (I won’t be going out and getting a tattoo).  Anyway, the reasoning behind the double edition today was that they’re both by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and they both involve the same protagonist, Mr Sherlock Holmes.

First, I have to admit that before I cracked open my Penguin edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I’d never really understood the hype.  Sure, Arthur Conan Doyle was knighted which is pretty awesome for an author, and OK Sherlock Holmes is now forever etched in my memory as Robert Downey Jr (except that he’s not English, but whatever), but overall I just assumed he was another literary character.

Oh, how wrong I was.  And truly, I should have known better.  Particularly since THE Baker Street in London has actually been immortalised as ‘Sherlock Holmes’ territory.  I mean really, I should have seen the signs (get the joke?).

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of short stories that are told from the perspective of his best friend and loyal sidekick, Dr Watson, who faithfully records all of Holmes’ detective work.  Each story follows a new case, more weird and wacky than the last, from a man with a missing thumb, to the elusive Irene Adler.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a short novel in itself, which follows the case of the Baskervilles; a family that is apparently cursed by a legendary hellhound.  When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead, Sir Henry, his only direct living relative, arrives from America to take over the manor and Holmes and Dr Watson are assigned to stay with him night and day until they find out who was behind Charles’ murder.

As with all the short stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles is also essentially a showcase of the incredibly logic and deduction skills that Holmes employs to solve his cases.

So what exactly is so great about Sherlock Holmes?

First, the writing is fantastic.  Written over 100 years ago, I still felt as though I was standing in the room next to Holmes and Watson, getting toasty next to an English fire and hearing about their latest case.  Conan Doyle has managed to create a tone of voice that is so clearly Holmes that it has stood the test of time, and I can honestly say that few novels, past or present, have resonated so well.

Second, the way that Holmes solves his cases.  Though at times they seem far-fetched, Holmes’ ability to work out how tall a man is solely from his footprint is pretty cool.  Considering all the technology and science that a basic detective seems to need in the 21st century, it’s fantastic to read about the simple ways that someone could catch a man so long ago.  Sure, I doubt they were as effective or as accurate as Sherlock Holmes, but it’s fun to pretend isn’t it?

Third, it just makes me want to go back to London.  The whole time I was reading this, it was hot weather and most of the time I was on a beach.  Yet I kept longing to sit by a fireplace with a cup of hot tea.  Why?  Because I’m crazy, obviously.  But also because Conan Doyle painted such a warm, inviting picture of London that I immediately wanted to teleport myself there and throw on a scarf (or ten).  Oh the powers of literature.

Finally, Sherlock himself.  He’s smug, he’s anti-social and he’s very arrogant.  He smokes like a chimney, treats Dr Watson quite unkindly at least half the time, and he has a retort for everything.  Yet isn’t he wonderful?  Don’t you want to have a cup of tea with him?  Or have him praise you?  Or, at the very least, be told all about yourself by him before you’ve even introduced yourself?  Or is that just me?

Whatever it is, Sherlock Holmes, any version of him, is a great read.  I would recommend this to anyone, and in fact, I plan on going ahead and reading his other adventures.  Speaking of, there’s a lovely leather edition at the bookstore and it’s my birthday coming up…Excellent.

Have you read Sherlock Holmes?  Have you seen the movies?  What do you think?  Does it make you want to smoke a pipe and say ‘Elementary, Watson’?  Or, for that matter, just make friends with someone called Watson so you can impress them?  Let me know!

the adventures of sherlock holmes by sir arthur conan doyle

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – (image taken from http://www.agathachristiereader.files.wordpress)