BOOKS: Sherlock Holmes

Reading through the movies thread of the same name - it would seem we have some Sherlock Holmes freaks.

I don’t recall EVER reading anything Sherlock Holmes (though I did see & enjoy the movie).

So go ahead FREAKS, tell me where to start? :wink: Is there an order or a recommendation for the first?


I would recommend reading them in the order they were published, which is the way most collections present them. The first “story” is the novella A Study in Scarlet, which is a great place to start because it explains how Holmes and Watson met, and gives Watson’s first impressions of Holmes.

After A Study in Scarlet, you could read the next Holmes “story” that Conan Doyle published, which is the novella The Sign of the Four. That’s one of my favorites. It also tells how Watson met his wife.

Then come two collections of short stories, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. These contain most of the stories that are generally considered the best. And I guess it’s no surprise that Holmes “dies” at the end of the Memoirs, because Conan Doyle was sick of writing about him. But he went on to bring Holmes back to life and to write much much more.


I’d argue that of the early books, “A Study in Scarlet” is actually the least important of the Holmes canon, as the Holmes tale ends up being a framing device for a darn-near-unrelated tale of the Mormons in Utah. You can prety much skip 8 chapters in the middle of the book and not miss anything from “Study in Scarlet”

Really, the best stories to start with, the ones that are the best introductions to Holmes would be:

*]A Scandal in Bohemia
*]The Red-Headed League
*]The Blue Carbuncle
*]Silver Blaze
*]The Yellow Face
*]The Final Problem

These are some of the most iconic of the early stories… and of course The Hound of the Baskervilles has to be on any Holmsiana list. I’m also partial to “The Dying Detective” from the later, post-Baskervilles Holmes yarns (the twist ending is amazing… I won’t spoil it for you), though many of those were hit-or-miss, and you can tell in many of them that Doyle just was not putting his heart into them.

I agree with Langdell. I would do what Langdell recommends, with one exception–

The first story that I read that utterly hooked me was “The Red-Headed League” in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I read this when I was in 6th grade, and I was enthralled. For weeks I walked around trying to deduce stuff about people from their clothing, fingernails, etc.!

I would heartily recommend this story as a good way to get a great intro to Holmes. It has everything–a great plot with an exciting and dangerous conclusion, interesting characters including the villain, a hint of Holmes’ derision for Scotland Yard, his love for the violin, the presence (unseen of course) of Moriarity, and quite a bit of humor.

I believe that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s favorite story was “The Speckled Band,” also from Adventures. I really like this story, too.

I believe that his wife liked “Silver Blaze,” in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

The fan favorite is “A Scandal in Bohemia” from Adventures. I wouldn’t start out with this story, though. Without the background, it would be easy to assume from this story that Holmes is somewhat of a dolt.

There are four short novels–my very favorite is Valley Of Fear. Much of this story is set in the United States, which is perhaps why I like it so much. I truly wish that Jeremy Brett could have done this story before he passed away.

And there’s always the classic Hound of the Baskervilles. I’ve read some reviews arguing that this is one of the most perfect detective stories ever written. If I am restless and looking for a way to while away a foggy, dreary day, I will pick this short novel up.

That’s true, although I’d say it’s a little unfair to call the Holmes part of Study in Scarlet a framing device, since it takes up half the novel. But I also really enjoyed the Mormon half, too. Parts of it gave me chills when I was a young teen.


That’s also my favorite. :smiley:


The Hound of the Baskervilles. My father gave it to me as an impromptu gift, and the novel hooked me from the start.

As for the short stories, A Scandal in Bohemia is one of my personal favourites, along with The Adventure of the Empty House. And if you get a chance to read the parodies, please do so. They cracked me up. :slight_smile:

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