Mini classic review: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

In The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, the consulting detective’s notoriety as the arch-despoiler of the schemes concocted by the criminal underworld at last gets the better of him.

Though Holmes and his faithful sidekick Dr Watson solve what will become some of their most bizarre and extraordinary cases – the disappearance of the race horse Silver Blaze, the horrific circumstances of the Greek Interpreter and the curious mystery of the Musgrave Ritual among them – a criminal mastermind is plotting the downfall of the great detective.

Half-devil, half-genius, Professor Moriarty leads Holmes and Watson on a grisly cat-and-mouse chase through London and across Europe, culminating in a frightful struggle which will turn the legendary Reichenbach Falls into a water double-grave… 

“I never can resist a touch of the dramatic.”

I’m always surprised by how much I enjoy the Sherlock Holmes stories when I read them. This is the second collection I’ve read, the first being The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes many years ago. While I enjoyed the first collection more than this one, I still had a wonderful times reading these 12 short stories — especially The Final Problem.

The mysteries swing wildly between a little boring, to interesting, to downright unputdownable. There are some cases that Sherlock solves in the blink of an eye, and some that have baffled him for years that he finally comes to. However, a lot of these stories are simply Holmes narrating his exploits for Watson, rather than the pair actually going on escapades together like they did in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Although it’s lovely to read how their friendship developed over the years.

Mycroft, Sherlock’s brother, appears in the story The Greek Interpreter. Mycroft is an analytical recluse and prefers to spend most of his days at the Diogenes Club, with other rich men. I really enjoyed the way Mycroft seems to humanise Sherlock as a character as he’s shown as not just a cold genius who spends his days solving crimes — he also has a family.

And of course, I can’t not mention the terrifying yet fascinating criminal mastermind, James Moriarty, who we are finally introduced to in the last story of this collection: The Final Problem. I find it absolutely hilarious that Arthur Conan Doyle created Moriarty because he had grown so tired of the reading public’s demand for more Sherlock stories, and so he created a villain that Sherlock could not defeat. Sherlock spends months carefully gathering the evidence he needs to bring down Moriarty’s criminal enterprise, before the pair finally face off in Switzerland at the infamous Reichenbach Falls, where both men fall to their deaths. It’s heartbreaking when Watson realises that Sherlock has tricked him in order to protect him from Moriarty, and you can’t help but root for him to find Sherlock in time, even though you know it’s useless.

All in all, I throughly enjoyed this collection of stories and highly recommend them to any interested reader!

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