The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes was written in 1894. That's about 120 years ago.
And yet: when I read it recently, it was as addictive, as gripping and as “can't put it downy” as any masterpiece I've read.
The stories are almost as good as the ones in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. A tad bit less...but that “tad” is hardly noticeable.
I'd love to tell you about my ratings for each story, the plot (without spoilers ;-) ) and some cool quotes on this page...If you haven't read it yet, you'll have a reason to read it.
And if you have, I welcome you dear Sherlock Holmes fan to relive the book with me.
But first, let's take a peek at some fascinating facts about The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes that I've managed to dig out.
Those are some covers of different versions of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Quite a few!
Arthur Conan Doyle kills off Holmes at the end of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. AND...
There were consequences for the real Doyle when he did that in the story: The Final Problem.
Doyle wrote The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes as a series in The Strand Magazine, and when he did kill off Holmes in the last story, here's what happened!
The reaction was quite understandable!
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle received 1000 pounds to write the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
And if you're wondering, that's not 1000 pounds today at all. In fact, that's the equivalent of around 93,000 dollars. Ahem.
Apparently, Doyle wasn't interested in writing about Holmes after writing The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the Strand Magazine. So he said he wanted 1000 pounds in a 'they'll not give them to me', sort of way.
They did however.
And one of the costliest magazine story writing deals was finalized!
By the way, just so you know, Doyle was paid around 504 pounds in total for writing The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. That's the equivalent of $ 46,400 today.
According to an extensive poll of Holmes experts...
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is the second best Sherlock Holmes stories compilation that's been written.
That's what Randall Stock from Best of Sherlock says. He's compiled a cool list of Holmes story rankings here. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is ranked the number 2 best book ever.
So well, those were some fascinating facts about The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
Time to move on and take a peek inside the book now...
Silver Blaze is this favourite horse that was definitely going to win The Wessex Cup. The problem is that the horse has disappeared!
There's a man who offered the stable boy some money on the night of the disappearance... Is he the thief? Then there's the caretaker of the horse, who has been found dead. Who killed him?
And, the biggest mystery of all is: Where is this horse if it was kept in an area surrounded by marshlands with nowhere to go? Why can't it be found? It's not a bug, it's a horse!
Monsieur Holmes has to find all this out.
That's the lost horse's trainers body drawn by W. H. Hyde in 1893. Who killed this guy?
Inspector Gregory: “Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night time...”
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident"
Miss Cushing of Croydon is a middle aged woman...who suddenly receives a parcel containing two human ears. That's gory. And gruesome.
What complicates things is that Miss Cushing can think of hardly any enemy who could have sent her such a parcel. In fact, she is as dumbfounded about the whole thing as you or I would be.
A good examination of the parcel is what gives Holmes a number of clues to work with: and these clues slowly lead to a terrible plot that made me flinch.
I've said this many times in many pages on this site, but well, let me say it once more: I love the Holmesian deductions in this story. :-)
That's Croydon - where Miss Cushing receives the parcel - today. (Thanks Pafcool2!)
"What object is served by this cycle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end...But what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which human reason is as far from an answer as ever."
How would it be if you and your spouse really love each other, and all is superbly blissful when suddenly, your spouse starts behaving very mysteriously, to the extent that he or she...leaves home at night?
There's this guy called Grant Munro in the story and he is in exactly such a situation in the story. To top it, his wife has also asked for a lot of money from him lately. And despite their awesome relationship, she's refusing to tell him what's up.
Then, of course, there are those secretive neighbours who have just occupied some premises near Munro's house...
I like the drama and the facts of the case in this story. But, I have to confess that Holmes' deductions are, for a change...not quite good.
It's one of those stories that's more of a story than a Holmesian case.
That's the wife in The Yellow Face stopping her husband from visiting the neighbours... (W. H. Hyde)
"If it should ever strike you that I am getting a little overconfident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper "Norbury" in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you."
Mr Hall Pycroft has a a very singular problem (as Watson would call it ;-)). The problem began when, on the day that he got a job with a famous London firm, he got another job offer that paid him 2.5 times the first one.
Now that's not that bad isn't it? I mean, he simply got a better job...
BUT: the problem is that everything is fishy about this new job.
He's never heard of the firm. The work is outright weird. The offices are simply two hardly furnished rooms. And there's no one but him working at the office.
And did I mention: the employer apparently seems to be writing letters to himself?
There's definitely a bigger plot here and that's what Mr Pycroft wants Holmes to unravel.
Is everything as simple as it seems, or is everything being done to execute a mind boggling crime?
Definitely worth a read.
" I am afraid that I rather give myself away when I explain. Results without causes are much more impressive. "
This one's cool: I mean, it's Holmes' first ever real case. Quite long ago, when Watson had still not experienced Holmes, Sherlock Holmes had this friend called Victor Trevor.
In this story, Victor Trevor's dad suddenly becomes very ill when he receives an unkempt looking visitor. He becomes even more ill, when he soon receives a note that talks about mundane stuff like livestock and sheep. And then...he dies out of this illness!
What on earth has happened? Why should a man die because of a note? Is there a past secret that no one knows?
I loved Holmes' quick deductions in this one. And yes, the drama in the end is satisfying, the kind that makes you say, “Ah! That was a fascinating ending...”
Hint: "The Gloria Scott" is the name of a ship...
"It is simplicity itself..."
Holmes' friend Reginald Musgrave has a problem. His butler has been found in the study at midnight taking a peek at an apparently useless family document. To make matters more interesting, this butler suddenly vanishes on the next day of being served a notice for his misbehaviour!
And then there's one of the maids who also vanishes soon enough. Is there a really deep secret here?
No one knows till Monsieur Holmes throws some light!
Another titbit about the story: Holmes narrates this one to Watson because it occurred before Watson had even met Holmes!
"You know my methods in such cases, Watson. I put myself in the man's place, and, having first gauged his intelligence, I try to imagine how I should myself have proceeded under the same circumstances."
Holmes and Watson are basically out on a holiday: Holmes is a bit ill and Watson has coaxed him into finally taking a break.
So, off they go to a friend: Colonel Hayter's place in Reigate, Surrey. But there is one robbery and one murder that rock Reigate just as Holmes arrives. Holmes of course, forgets all about taking rest and plunges himself into solving the murder case.
A coachman has been murdered probably because he was trying to stop a burglar from entering the house. Now that looks like a simple case, doesn't it? It does but...why did the coachman have a certain note clutched in his fist? Burglars don't send notes to coachmen, do they?
Using some mind blowing logic, Holmes figures out that things aren't as simple as they look. There's a sinister plot with an “ah” inducing twist out there.
That's the note found in the coachman's hand in The Reigate Squire. Mysterious, eh?
"I make a point of never having any prejudices, and of following docilely wherever fact may lead me..."
Colonel Barclay and his wife apparently had an argument inside a room when suddenly, a man's scream was heard followed by a piercing scream from the woman. When people broke into the room, the Colonel was lying dad and his wife unconscious.
To make matters more shaky, the room was locked from inside and yet the key wasn't there anywhere.
What exactly happened inside that room? Why did the Colonel and his wife argue so intensely when they generally almost never argued? And honestly: did the wife kill the Colonel or was it someone else?
Holmes and Watson are dying to find out the solution to this gruesome affair!
"It's every man's business to see justice done."
Dr Trevelyan from Brooklyn Street has a problem: his investor, the guy who lives upstairs and finances his business has been acting pretty weirdly since the last few days.
There was this burglary somewhere that made him terribly nervous and made him peek out of his windows all the time. And now, a visit from two patients has made him cry and even stop speaking clearly.
What is wrong? Is there some fact that this investor is hiding from everyone? Maybe he isn't who he says he is...and there's a secret from the past haunting him? 'Nuff said!
As usual: Holmes makes his visit and draws his deductions...
Holmes and Watson taking a walk before the client arrives in The Resident Patient. (Paget)
"His characteristic talk, with its keen observance of detail and subtle power of inference, held me amused and enthralled."
Holmes' brother Mycroft's neighbour has a very peculiar problem. This neighbour -Mr Milas – is a Greek interpreter and he was taken to an unknown place where he was asked to translate death threats to and from Greek.
Now that's not exactly what a Greek interpreter wants to do for a living, you know...translate threats like, “Sign on this document or else!”
Where had Mr Milas himself been taken? Who was that Greek man being threatened? And what's the story behind the Greek man's sister who suddenly entered the room?
I wouldn't say this is the Holmes story with the most mind boggling deductions to solve the mystery...But, it has its highs.
The mystery is quite enticing for instance, and then there's a fascinating scene with Mycroft and Sherlock – the two brothers deducing loads of stuff about strangers...
That's Pall Mall in London, the street where Mycroft and Milas once lived. (Thanks Steve Cadman!)
"It is a mercy that you are on the side of the force and not against it, Mr Holmes."
This one's definitely one of my favourites from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
There's this important treaty and Watson's friend Percy was supposed to make a copy of it. Now good old Percy took a small break as he was copying the treaty, and within a few minutes, he heard a bell from his room – the bell used to summon people.
When he went back, the treaty was gone!
Who stole the treaty if no one knew about it? And why on earth would a thief ring the bell before stealing the treaty?
The mystery is indeed mind blowing and the twist in the end took my breath away. I'll reiterate: one of the best!
Yes, it's true! The Naval Treaty is the longest Sherlock Holmes story of all the stories!
"...this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras and so I say...that we have much to hope from flowers."
This is not really a typical Holmes story.
For starters, there isn't any mystery to solve here.
There's Holmes and there's his rival on the other side of the law: Moriarty. Holmes has been after Moriarty for a long time and in a matter of days, Holmes will have all the proofs to get him arrested.
Now no criminal will be content with that sort of treatment.
So, Moriarty is after Holmes with the energy of a tsunami!
This story reads more like a spy novel. There's a chase, there's deception, there's disguise and adventure. And at the end, there's the climax. Will Holmes win or Moriarty? Or is there a third option?
Honestly, this was not one of those Sherlock Holmes stories I liked at first. I think that's because there isn't any mystery to solve here.
Over time, however, this story has grown upon me and become more and more special for me.
It's a unique story because Sherlock Holmes isn't just having fun deducing here - he almost dies for a very noble cause.
Having said that, there are some cool deductions in the middle as well...
Final say: It's definitely worth a read (or three!) for its historical significance.
"It is stupidity rather than courage to refuse to recognize danger when it is close upon you."
Whew! Well, we've taken a nice brief look at each of the stories from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
The question now is...which one's the best? Well - as they say - to each his own - but I've made my choices.
Let the curtains be raised for my awards in different categories for all the stories in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes! ;-)
Thank you for that picture Microsoft Office!
If you haven’t yet read The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, you can download the PDF and ePUB versions for free here...