The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the best collection of Sherlock Holmes stories out there.
Well, that's definitely what I think.
I'd definitely insist that it be the first Sherlock Holmes story-collection you read (if you haven't read any Sherlock Holmes stories yet).
All the stories in this book are narrated by John Watson, Sherlock Holmes' loyal room mate, friend and confidant.
And without a doubt, all of the stories are mind-bogglingly amazing.
That's the cover of the first ever edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in 1892!
of these stories have excellent deductions by Sherlock Holmes.
Some others have such dramatic twists as to make your head spin.
others have such a weird and improbable mystery right at the beginning,
that you have to say to yourself, “This is impossible to solve!”.
A few of the stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes even have all three of these
OK, you've got it, I guess. :-) Yes, this book's superb.
Time to take a peek at some fun-facts about The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - before we delve into the stories themselves...
The book wasn't initially intended to be a book!
Each story was published one by one in each issue of Strand magazine from July 1891 to June 1892 (that's 12 stories). People loved these stories – and many people subscribed to Strand magazine so that they could read that month's Sherlock Holmes story (That's quite understandable, I could have done that had I lived in those times!).
Would you like to take a look at the original Strand Magazine and how Sherlock Holmes stories appeared in it? Take a look at the Strand Magazine here and turn to page 61 for the first story from the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
(Yes, this is how the stories looked to the first time readers. Who would have thought, people would read these stories on their cell phones and Kindle devices one day?)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was originally published in England on October 14, 1892 by George Newnes Limited and in the USA on October 15, 1892 by Harper. The book had illustrations by a man called Sidney Page.
Here is a picture of Sidney Paget, the cool dude who first drew Holmes and Watson – and
who first helped us visualize how Holmes might look like:
(Also, did you know that it was Sidney who gave Holmes his famous deerstalker cap? Well it was him. If you read any Holmes story carefully, you will note that no cap is mentioned in any of the stories. Interesting. )
Can you guess how many copies were published in the first print run?
I am sure that more than thousand times that number has been printed since then (and hundreds of thousands of e-books have been downloaded). Goes on to show that even the most famous detective of all time had a humble start!
In November 1891, Arthur Conan Doyle, the author we're all thankful to, told his mother that he was tired of writing Holmes stories and wanted to kill Holmes off soon. This was when hardly 5 Holmes stories from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes had been published!
Apparently, Doyle wanted to give some other historical treatises his attention.
Well, I'm glad he listened to his mother, who very aptly said:
“You won't! You can't! You mustn't!”
Thank you Mrs Doyle. :-)
(And thanks to An Introduction to the Detective Story by LeRoy Panek for this intriguing fact.)
The king in the story - originally illustrated by Sydney Paget and coloured by the guys at 'Art in the Blood'
A king is about to get married. No problems there.
The problem is that his intelligent ex-girlfriend (Irene Adler) is threatening to expose his letters and a photograph on the day of the marriage. Ahem.
This ex-girlfriend is very clever and all the king's attempts to get the photographs from her have failed.
Can Holmes help get the photograph back from her, please?
I must confess that the mystery here isn't that intense. Holmes simply has to get a picture from a woman who has hidden it.
However, the case becomes interesting because Irene is no ordinary woman. As Holmes himself later confesses, she is The Woman.
And that's what makes this story so interesting – the fact that Holmes actually finds a match – when it comes to making intelligent deductions!
Finally, there's a woman who can compete with Holmes - neck-to-neck.
There were many fascinating quotes, but this is the one I've selected.
"When a woman thinks that her house is on fire, her instinct is at once to rush to the thing which she values the most...A married woman grabs at her baby; an unmarried one reaches for her jewel box."
A certain pawnbroker (someone who lends money and charges interest) reads an advertisement.
Now this advertisement is interesting: it invites all people with red hair to apply for a weird but very well paying job.
Why only people with red hair? Our pawnbroker has no idea.
Our pawnbroker is selected for the job, out of thousands of other red-heads. What's his job? It is to copy an encyclopedia word for word (why would anyone want that?).
Then, suddenly – this pawnbroker's workplace shuts down and no one seems to know what happened to his office. The advertisement, the encyclopedia copying - was it a dream?
What on earth is happening here? ;-)
I must confess that I was dumb-founded when I read the problem. I just could not come up with any explanation for what happened. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how Holmes solves this mystery with his stellar powers of reasoning.
This one occurs just after the puzzled pawnbroker has left Holmes and Watson after narrating his inexplicable case.
"As a rule, the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify."
The client meets Holmes for the first time - Sydney Paget's illustration
A woman who is similar to a stenographer or secretary of today (someone who types letters basically), falls in love with a man she meets at a party.
Sounds good so far, right? I mean - there's no mystery there. This woman and the guy she likes - they both agree to get married.
Then, when these guys are on their way to church - that's when something crazy happens. The man does not arrive at the church!
What happened to the man and why and how did he disappear, never to be found again?
Maybe - the man was just afraid of marriage? Or maybe, he just lost interest in the woman? Or maybe - just maybe - there is something terribly sinister going on here. Something 'evil'...
Only Holmes can tell.
Again, there are way too many amazing quotes in this story. But – I'll mention one – and here it is:
" Never trust to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details."
I think that quote holds true even in our daily lives when starting a business, when wanting a fulfilling relationship, or even when studying for an exam. All these actions require attention to details.
That's me getting philosophical ;-) Coming back to Holmes...
Yes, that's Holmes on the trail! (Sidney Paget's illustration touched up by artintheblood.com and me)
A murder has taken place in Boscombe Valley. The accused guy is the victim's son.
Now this son has tons of evidence against him that clearly shows that he is the murderer. But - the son says he is innocent. He also gives an explanation that is very weird and almost impossible.
Now, if the son were guilty, why would he give a weird, hardly believable explanation? Would he not just cook up a believable story? And then there's the other problem: just in case this son is innocent - then who is the other culprit?
Only God (and Holmes) can tell. ;-)
The case here is actually very simple – so simple that there appears to be no need for Holmes to even take it up. But that's the whole point, as Sherlock Holmes says:
"Circumstantial evidence is a tricky thing.
It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different."
This quote is a simple one, but I am sure it is still useful for detectives worldwide, even today:
"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact."
A young man receives a letter and 5 orange pips and he rushes to Holmes.
That is because his father and grandfather had received the same letter and pips years ago and both had...died within a few days under mysterious circumstances!
What do these 5 pips mean? Are they a joke – or do they mean death for this young man?
Is everything as it appears or is there a dark secret that this man's father and grandfather were hiding...?
When I first read the problem, I was truly stunned. I mean, receiving 5 pips by post is so weird and yet - sinister - considering what had happened earlier.
It is a pleasure to see how Holmes finally clears the air...
"The ideal reasoner would, when he had once been shown a single fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all the chain of events which led up to it but also all the results which would follow from it."
This story from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a shocker. (Sidney Paget)
A woman casually looking around in a place she has come for some work, suddenly spots her husband
waving at her from a first floor window.
When she goes up, the husband is nowhere to be found, and a disfigured beggar is the only person in the room. Did the beggar kill the husband? Looks like it - because the husband's clothes have been found...
What was the husband doing in that street? Why was he waving? Why did the beggar kill him? What on earth is happening?
Without doubt, this is one of my personal favorites from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
after the story was over, the startling twist in the end just kept revolving in my head!
Sherlock Holmes immensely respects a woman's intuition and her gut feeling. Here, he says:
"The impression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner."
Inspector Peterson has given Holmes a hat – a hat that fell off during a street fight.
There was also a goose that was left during that fight, a goose owned by the same man who owned the hat.
The problem is - when Peterson cuts open this goose - he finds one of the most precious jewels in the country inside it!
How did the
gem come there and who stole it in the first place? And what is it its connection with the hat?
This is the only case from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in which Holmes does not have any client. In fact, Holmes gets indirectly involved while he examines an old, worn out hat...
Some questions that Holmes needs to answer are:
"My name is Sherlock Holmes and it is my business to know what other people don't know."
That's Holmes in full form. :-)
A scene from The Speckled Band by Joseph Friedrich
A young woman, who is about to get married wants Holmes to help her.
She has been hearing a low whistle in the night these days. Her sister had heard the same whistle two years ago, a few days before she was to get married.
This sister had died in absolutely inexplicable circumstances, a few days after hearing the whistle consistently.
Is this woman also in danger? After all here sister had heard the whistle and died...
What is this whistle?
What danger stalks this young client of Holmes'?
Without doubt, this story ranks amongst the weirdest and most thrilling Sherlock Holmes stories - not just from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - but across all Holmes stories.
No wonder then, that it has got such a high rating (below)!
Holmes repeats this quote in different forms, in many stories – but it can't get any clearer than this:
"How dangerous it always is to reason without sufficient data..."
A hydraulic engineer had been paid a large sum of money to find out what is wrong with a mysterious machine.
All this had happened in the middle of the night.
When he was almost done studying the machine, the engineer realized that it was not a simple earth digging machine. It was an illegal machine with dark secrets of its own.
When the engineer mentioned this to the person who has brought him to study the machine - things started spiralling out of control.
This engineer almost passed through the jaws of death...
What is this sinister place where the engineer was taken at night? How did he eventually survive to come back and tell Holmes his story?
My comments? While this story is definitely NOT the best story from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, it is still bizarre enough to keep you awake at night!
This is what Holmes tells the engineer in the story when the engineer asks how his life had benefitted from the night's expedition:
"Experience. Indirectly it may be of value , you know; you have only to put into words to gain the reputation of being excellent company for the remainder of your existence."
One of the most intriguing stories from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Joseph Friedrich)
A nobleman has a very unique problem: his new wife has suddenly disappeared during the wedding breakfast!
She was fine during the wedding and even talked about her future with him. She left during the wedding breakfast and just...vanished!
Has someone kidnapped her?
Has the nobleman's ex-girlfriend persuaded his fiancee to leave him? And why did she disappear right before the wedding day?
No one knows.
The mystery is inexplicable. But then Holmes' analysis is perfect.
And the final twist is something that made me say in my head, "How on earth did Holmes think of that?"
"I assure you, Watson, without affectation, that the status of my client is a matter of less moment to me than the interest of his case."
The quote clearly shows one of Holmes' noble qualities: he pursues art for art's sake.
A banker has lost 3 gems from the precious crown called the Beryl Coronet. This crown is one of England's most prized possessions.
To complicate matters, the person arrested for theft is the banker's own son - who has been caught red handed with the crown in his hand!
The question is: where are the 3 gems? Why does the son refuse to talk about the issue? And is
he the one who really tried to steal the crown? Or is there another sinister angle that no one has noticed...
This is definitely one of the most mysterious cases in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
I loved Holmes'
reasoning skills and the stunning twist in the end.
This happens to be my favorite of all Sherlock Holmes quotes. It clearly defines Sherlock Holmes' core strategy as he tries to arrive at the truth in each case.
"When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
I love the train scenes in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes! (Joseph Friedrich)
An English governess is in a strange situation: she is paid double what she deserves, but - she is made to do strange things like cut her hair and wear someone else's dresses!
Why would someone want to make a governess dress in a certain way and pose at a certain place - and get a certain kind of haircut?
There is definitely something dark and mysterious going on in the household where she lives.
Otherwise, apart from all the other weirdness, why should she be threatened to not enter a certain part of the building ever?
The question of course is: what is this dark and mysterious secret - hidden in this house?
Try guessing the solution to this mystery before you finish the story - I absolutely couldn't!
"Data! Data! Data!...I can't make bricks without clay."
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Awards! (Pic: MS Office)
So well, that's about The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. What! You haven't read the book yet?
Well, you must! Read the electronic versions for free here:
By the way, here are some of my favourite 'typical' and some not so typical quotes from the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Take a peek!