Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Top 100 #40)

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Four Things I Liked About Adventures:
1. Sherlock’s disguises.
2. His contemplative violin playing.
3. “This is a three pipe problem, and I ask you not to speak to me for fifty minutes.”* 
4. Catching many of the allusions to the original Sherlock in Sherlock and the recent Robert Downey Jr. remake.

This is Sherlock Holmes like I expected him to be: Sassy, quirky, quick-witted, insensitive, infuriatingly secretive about his thought process, and more concerned with the thrill of the case than the fate of his clients. I accidentally skipped a book in the overall series (The Sign of Four, one of the four novels), but there was clearly a lot of growth in Doyle’s storytelling and character development, and it made the stories that much more enjoyable. If A Study in Scarlet was Sherlock in conception, then The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is Sherlock fully realized, in all his snarky, brilliant glory.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a book of short stories, each detailing a single case, as told by Sherlock’s partner in (solving) crime, Dr. Watson**. The installments of the complete Sherlock Holmes series can all be read independently and still make sense, but they also build on one another, with a couple plot threads stretching across several books (and becoming more plentiful as the series go on, I gather) and occasional references to previous cases. While all the stories in Adventures are witty and entertaining, I did, of course, have a few favorites: The Red-Headed League (I covet the hair of gingers, ❤ Weasley family), The Man With the Twisted Lip (an intrigue of identity and disappearing acts), and The Adventure of the Copper Beeches (Bertha Mason isn’t the only woman in the attic***).

The more Sherlock Holmes I read, the more I want to read, because they start off good and get progressively even better. I’ve now decided to read the entire series, and I’m crossing my fingers that my friend gets the complete set for her birthday this week so I can steal borrow them when we get back to campus. 

To conclude with a non sequitur: was anyone else aware that Dr. House is supposed to be a re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes? My first thought when I was told was, “Ah… That makes perfect sense.”

* Side note: In the ingeniously adapted BBC series Sherlock (which I mentioned in my post on A Study In Scarlet, and have since finished, and ohmygosh-why-are-there-no-new-episodes-until-next-winter-the-cliffhanger-is-killing-me), Sherlock says instead, “This is a three patch problem,” and shows Watson his arm with three nicotine patches on it. Très clever, non? But that’s Sherlock.
** Another clever adaption by Sherlock (because I’m sure you’re as excited by these as I am) is playing off the form of the stories by having Watson publish a blog about Sherlock’s exploits.
*** Jane Eyre, anyone? Hoping to make a trek to a Landmark theatre here in DC on Tuesday, to see it before I head back to the Midwest, where it doesn’t come out for another week.

Books Read This Year: 23
Top 100 Progress: 40/100

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