I should have lumped all of the Sherlock Holmes stories into one section on my Classics Club list. I read them a year ago, and I should have wrote better (more general) notes. I loved the works collectively although the famous A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four did not top my favorite list. And The Hound of the Baskervilles hardly had Holmes in it! Of course neither did The Valley of Fear which I loved, but that had another absolutely brilliant detective instead of Watson as in The Hound of the Baskervilles. I am not a fan of Watson as he is so dull and so obviously nothing more than the biographer and foil of Holmes. I adore Holmes which may or may not be the result of Sherlock although that title character does not precisely match Holmes who is more of a full, well-rounded character and less um, harsh in the eccentricity and humaneness department, enough said. Anyway, I immediately embarked on a mystery reading craze and the quality of the mysteries deteriorated to Agatha Christie and then I left off reading mysteries. I have since started the Lord Peter Whimsy mysteries and thus improved my mystery reading quality after the Christie slump.
This was my least favorite of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries; I actually didn’t really like it. The story was dark and creepy, I hated the savage character for many reasons, and the ending was unsatisfactory. The only slight gleam of light was Watson’s darling little romance and Holmes’ slightly mischievous attitude about it…he just doesn’t miss a thing even when he doesn’t say much about it. That is a big difference between the original stories and Sherlock. Sherlock loves to point out everything he notices (such as the fact that he knew Donovan and Anderson were having an office affair) to show off or hit back, and yes, lots of these people…Donovan, I hate her…are cruel to him, but the real Holmes was above all that; he was MUCH more noble period than his flatter, less developed modern reincarnation. I digress.
Much of what was in the story was more gross and chilling than I could handle (and I just read something truly horrifying in the news–something that to me was the most horrific thing I have ever read–so I was extra sensitive at the time of reading). The tide of the mystery still carried me on, but I felt that the suspense was not fulfilled or justified by the ending.
I did not feel any empathy whatsoever for this criminal and his back story did not seem overly intricate. He was a cold-blooded murderer, so his disgust at his savage and the unnecessary death didn’t ring quite true. The only thing of pulling interest in the main part of the plot was the fact that the jewels were at the bottom of the Thames. How infuriating but above the commonplace.
After I read The Valley of Fear, I noticed that someone pointed out that most of the story was not focused on Holmes. In that particular story I was fine with that because the mystery of that back story was ah-mazing! I have to wonder though, if I would have liked The Sign of Four better if Holmes was shown to the best advantage.
- I read the Sherlock Holmes stories a while ago, so I cannot really elaborate more than this. I need to remember to take notes as I read and then thoughtfully write out a review right after I finish the books before I forget both my impressions and the details of the story. Mysteries are hard to review anyway, I think.I will admit to being a cheater and watching all the currently available episodes of BBC’s Sherlock long before I picked up the marvelous original stories. However, since I am now an ardent fan of the books (how can I not be?!), I think I am redeemed.There are significant differences besides the time period—and some of the stories are so much quicker to read than I expected from the television series. I love how the T.V. series takes parts from the books and mixes them up—it is brilliant.I love having the plot unfold and every detail explained; in the T.V. series it is hard to follow everything while in the stories the explanations of Holmes’ reasoning process is much more realistic.A Study in ScarletThe two part sequence surprised me, but I liked it, it lent so much more interest to the plot. I love backstories and long, complicated motivations (these seem to be lacking in the T.V. series). After reading the backstory, I wasn’t sorry for the victims—well I wasn’t sorry for the first, but the 2nd death was too horrific. I was sorry for the vigilante (I don’t wish to say murderer—I know he oughtn’t have turned vigilante—but I completely sympathized with him and believe that he wasn’t as evil as a cold blooded murderer [to put that more Biblically, I believe he had considerably more common grace than a cold-blooded murderer]).Oh, the scene when he finds out they are gone! The horror is well built up in the story. I love the understated emotion. It is always soo much more effective than blatant description and tons of blood and gore—it is chilling and realistic and mysterious. All the hints and whispers lend a greater edge than statements of description. I love that (maybe because I am not that way?).