I can finally say that I've read all of the four novels and fifty-six short stories of the Sherlock Holmes canon in less than 12 months! :) I'd already read most of the various Sherlock Holmes stories before but never in their published order. I'm quite proud of myself for finishing all of the stories especially since the canon was on both my bucket list and my Classics Club list.
Sadly though, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes just isn't a very good book. It's probably the weakest in the entire canon. Most of its stories are extremely far-fetched and uninspiring with the absolute nadir for me being The Creeping Man. This story starts off promisingly enough but then has a shockingly terrible ending that's like something out of a crappy sci-fi movie! There are also a couple of stories where Holmes and Watson's dialogue felt very off :S With this book I could just feel Arthur Conan Doyle's boredom and lack of interest in what he was writing and I had a hard time concentrating on the stories, which is something that I've never experienced with the earlier short stories.
The only things that partly redeemed The Casebook for me were some of the exchanges between Holmes and Watson and the few good stories that were in it. I enjoyed The Problem of Thor Bridge and, unlike some readers out there, I actually quite liked the two stories in this book that were narrated by Holmes himself because I found them refreshing. In The Lion's Mane we get to learn more about the place where Holmes has moved to on the Sussex Downs and The Blanched Soldier has a lovely, happy ending. I also love Holmes' complaint about Watson's selfishness in choosing to marry Mary Morstan in that story :D
Despite my disappointment with this last book, it was a delightful experience to revisit the Sherlock Holmes canon again. If anyone reading this post hasn't already read Arthur Conan Doyle's stories then I would strongly recommend that you do. The vast majority of the stories feature brilliant mysteries, are highly atmospheric, and have wonderfully memorable characters. They're also full of suspense and adventure and are often very funny. I know that there are some fantastic adaptations out there but Arthur Conan Doyle's stories have so much to offer! If I had to pick a favourite Sherlock Holmes story then I think it would be The Hound of the Baskervilles. It was the first Sherlock Holmes story that I read and is still by far my favourite out of the novels. It has a fantastic gothic atmosphere and, unlike the other Sherlock Holmes novels, doesn't feature any lengthy, tedious flashbacks. My favourite of the short stories - and this is harder because there are more of them and overall I like them better than the novels - would probably be The Copper Beeches. It has a fantastic gothic atmosphere as well and features the wonderful character Violet Hunter. I long for the day when the BBC's Sherlock finally adapts this story! Other short stories that I especially loved were The Red-Headed League, The Musgrave Ritual, The Reigate Squire, Charles Augustus Milverton, The Bruce Partington Plans and The Devil's Foot.
Even though I've finally finished reading Arthur Conan Doyle's stories I wouldn't exactly say that my time with Sherlock Holmes is over. I'll always have the option of re-reading the stories some day, I'm hoping to finally start watching the ITV Granada adaptation later in the year, there's an upcoming Christmas special of the BBC's Sherlock, and there are a few pastiche stories that I want to look into: The House of Silk and Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman, and The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King. In fact I've already reserved copies of The House of Silk and The Beekeeper's Apprentice from the library. And I also want to start reading more stories about other famous literary detectives now too: Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, Father Brown and C. Auguste Dupin.
Rating: 2.5/5 for this book, 5/5 for the whole canon.