Sunday, 12 April 2015

'The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes' by Arthur Conan Doyle (1894)

Synopsis: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is the fourth book in the Sherlock Holmes series and is a collection of 12 short stories that were originally published in The Strand magazine between December 1892 and December 1893. The stories were then put together into a book in February 1894. The 12 stories in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes are Silver Blaze, The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, The Adventure of the Yellow Face, The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk, The Adventure of the Gloria Scott, The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual, The Adventure of the Reigate Squire, The Adventure of the Crooked Man, The Adventure of the Resident Patient, The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter, The Adventure of the Naval Treaty and The Final Problem.

This is yet another hugely enjoyable book in the Sherlock Holmes series! :) Most of the stories in this book are wonderful! But that being said... as much as I loved this book I did detect a few signs that Arthur Conan Doyle had lost some interest in Sherlock Holmes. The opening paragraphs of The Cardboard Box and The Resident Patient are almost word for word the same - which really confused me! - and The Stockbroker's Clerk is basically a paler imitation of The Red-Headed League. And during this re-read I noticed that Arthur Conan Doyle doesn't always bother to tell us whether or not Watson is married in the stories any more. As I said, I still loved this book but I can't help but wonder how obvious ACD's lack of interest in Sherlock Holmes is going to be in the final stories of the canon if I can even spot it here! Anyway, now I'm going to talk about my top three favourites from the book:

The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual - There are two "Young Sherlock" stories in this book which are this story and The Gloria Scott. The mystery behind The Gloria Scott isn't terribly interesting and Holmes doesn't really do all that much in the story. That being said it does give us a fascinating glimpse into Holmes' university days and we do get to find out about the one friend he made during his time there, who was called Victor Trevor. I'd love it if Victor showed up in the BBC's Sherlock! Heck, even just a mention of him would be really cool! The Musgrave Ritual is an even better story than The Gloria Scott though. In this one Holmes is approached by an old university acquaintance called Reginald Musgrave and he then ends up going on a treasure hunt! How awesome! And the mystery in this book revolves around a bizarre family tradition that dates back to the English Civil War. As a Cavalier fangirl this made me very happy! ;) I love the humour in this story too. I love that the only reason why Holmes even tells Watson the story is so he can manipulate his way out of doing some tidying!

The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter - Yay! Mycroft Holmes! This story is the first in the canon to feature him and as I'm quite the Mycroft fan I really love this story. Re-reading this story was quite an interesting experience. Considering that Sherlock hasn't even mentioned his brother to Watson up until now, his relationship with Mycroft seems very warm and relaxed here which surprised me. That's not to say that there isn't any sibling rivalry between the two of them. I do love the scene where they try to out-deduct each other! Another scene that I really love is the one where Sherlock and Watson leave Mycroft at the Diogenes Club and walk home only to be flabbergasted when they come home to find Mycroft casually smoking in their flat. Hahaha! I really love the ending of this story as well: that Holmes believed it was Sophy who dealt with the men who killed her brother. Wow, Sherlock's opinion of women really has improved!

The Adventure of the Reigate Squire - I wanted to pick my top three favourites from this book just like I did with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It was harder to do that with this book but I eventually managed it. But before I'll explain why I loved The Reigate Squire so much I'll have to mention The Final Problem. I couldn't do a review of this book without mentioning it! As ACD had gotten tired of writing about Sherlock Holmes he decided to kill his detective off and concentrate on writing more serious, literary fiction. But at the same time ACD wanted the series to go out with a bang so he gave Holmes an evil genius arch-enemy called Professor Moriarty for his final story. The Final Problem has a very different tone from the rest of the Sherlock Holmes stories. It's less of a mystery and has more of a James Bond-esque spy-thriller feel about it, which is pretty refreshing. Moriarty's visit to Baker Street is pure awesome-ness and the final sentence in the story is very touching. And yet... on my re-read of the story I couldn't help but compare this story to Sherlock's The Reichenbach Fall and I honestly love that version of that story even more. We get to see far more of Moriarty in that episode - brilliantly played by Andrew Scott! - and it's even more thrilling and emotional than The Final Problem I find.

So why did I pick The Reigate Squire then? Er, because it's awesome! I love this one! There are so many fantastic moments in it. In this story Holmes is overworked after doing a particularly gruelling case in France so Watson insists that he and Holmes take a holiday in the countryside near Reigate. Of course the two of them then get involved in a mystery which is much to Watson's annoyance and Holmes' delight. Both Holmes and Watson get seriously badass moments in this story. When the daft local police inspector is about to reveal to the criminals what the vital evidence for the case is, Holmes then fakes a panic attack. He does such a great job at it that even Watson, who let us not forget is a doctor, is completely taken in by it. And then it gets even better. Holmes then casually knocks over a bowl of oranges and a jug of water and coolly blames Watson for it. Watson is kind of annoyed but he's such a great friend and sidekick that he goes along with it. And then Holmes takes advantage of the confusion by sneaking off into the next room to find the vital clue. At this point the criminals, in a moment of complete insanity, dash off to the next room and try to kill him! When Watson and the inspector are right next door! I can't get over how stupid this is. I guess they just panicked. Anyway, Watson then gets to save Holmes which is really cool. Holmes is then like "Yay! Best holiday ever!" and then they go home. Aw.

Rating: 5/5


Hamlette said...

Yes, the lack of interest becomes more apparent as the stories progress. But never to a degree that annoys me, at least.

I never noticed that the beginnings of Cardboard and Resident were similar! I'll have to grab my copy and check that out.

Hannah said...

Oops, I thought I'd already replied to this comment!

Oh yeah, the paragraphs are pretty much word-for-word. I've looked it up online and apparently there was a sexual element to The Cardboard Box story which ACD later felt uncomfortable about so he decided not to include it in the Memoirs collection. But he really liked some paragraphs in that story which showed Holmes' deductive reasoning so he inserted them into The Resident Patient. But then ACD did decide to have The Cardboard Box published after all and took out the sexual element. Hence my confusion! :D

Hamlette said...

Clearly, I was not paying enough attention! Oops!