Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Good news, everybody! My move is complete, and went smoothly. And, most importantly, I have the internet again! So thanks for your patience while I’ve been gone; now I just need to catch up on writing reviews for things I read over a month ago…
Read By: Ralph Cosham
Length: 9h 09m (104 pages)
Genre: Mysteries, Short stories
Started: 21 November 2012
Finished: 08 December 2012
Where did it come from? Free Audible download (a year ago).
Why do I have it? It was free? And it was a classic that I knew I should read at some point.
Did I like this book?
The answer, dear readers, is
Summary: Everyone’s favorite detective is back at work in this collection of short stories. Narrated by his companion John Watson, the twelve stories in this collection show Sherlock Holmes at his best; not always solving the crime, but always applying his unique blend of observation, deduction, and the application of an endless supply of seemingly trivial knowledge into catching criminals and solving the seemingly impossible problems that are brought to his door. The stories included are “A Scandal in Bohemia,” “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League,” “A Case of Identity,” “The Boscombe Valley Mystery,” “The Five Orange Pips,” “The Man with the Twisted Lip,” “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb,” “The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor”,” “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet,” and “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.”
Review: Reading this book was a very interesting experience. I was familiar with the characters, and even with some of the stories, from their various derivative books, movies and TV incarnations, but I’d never actually read any of the original works. It was inevitable that some of my preconceptions based on those other works leaked into my experience of this book, but there were also aspects of the original that definitely surprised me.
To start with, I was surprised at how short a lot of the stories were. Had I been thinking about it, I would have realized that packing 12 stories into 9 hours of audiobook necessarily means that they’re going to average out to 45 minutes apiece. But I’d watched the BBC Benedict Cumberbatch version fairly recently, and each (90 minute) episode of that has, if not multiple mysteries per se, then at least multiple times when Sherlock is using his deductive powers, and typically a fair number of twists and turns. For example, the very first story, “A Scandal in Bohemia”, I was enjoying drawing the connections to the episode “A Scandal in Belgravia,” and listening to the original and seeing what stayed and what got updated for the TV version. But then the story just… stopped, or so it seemed to me, and I was left wondering “where’s the rest?” Because of course the episode extrapolates and adds on to its source material, but I was still left feeling a little shortchanged. In several other of the stories as well, there’s sort of an abrupt feeling, without the same tension or excitement or mysteriousness that I was expecting. I realize that that’s not entirely fair to Doyle’s work, but it’s maybe an inevitable consequence of the order in which I experienced things.
At the same time, however, I did find these stories on the whole quite fun, in particular some of the ones with which I was less familiar. I thought “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League” was fun, and complex enough to keep me intrigued, and “The Man with the Twisted Lip” and “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” both had an excellent flavor of different aspects of Victorian London to them. I also liked hearing Watson speak for himself, and thought the language was more modern than I was expecting (although the phrase “knock you up” for “call upon you” – e.g. “Sorry to knock you up so early in the morning” – never failed to confuse/amuse me).
I did find that if I listened to more than one or two stories in a row, they quickly got to feel fairly formulaic. Holmes is presented with a crime (or a strange occurrence; not all of the cases involved crimes as such), he and Watson listen to the particulars of the case, Watson is perplexed, Holmes berates him for not observing properly, Holmes then points out the details that Watson missed and deduces the correct answer, the bad guy is caught (or occasionally not), the end. I had a much better time with this book listening to only a story at a time, then switching to something else for a few days. Even so, these aren’t the kind of mysteries where all the clues are available to the reader; Holmes typically only points out the details he’s noticed when he’s explaining what they mean. It’s left me very interested to read the novels, rather than the short stories, to see how Doyle develops the mystery over the longer scale. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Definitely worth reading for anyone who likes the Sherlock Holmes adaptations, or mysteries in general, but they’re better when not read straight through.
First Line: To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.
© 2013 Fyrefly’s Book Blog. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Fyrefly’s Book Blog or its RSS feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is being used without permission.