The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Complete Sherlock Holmes: The Heirloom Collection is indeed the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. All four of his novels are included as are all of his short stories. From reading the novels and many of the short stories, one can discover exactly how Sherlock and Watson have become the beloved detective and sidekick that we know them as today. You can also see how some images or characteristics of the detective may be more accurate than others.

Admittedly, since the collection is almost sixty hours of listening I read not all of it but A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Hounds of Baskerville, all of the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a few from the Memoirs of Sherlock of Holmes, including the one where he supposedly dies along with Moriarty, and the short story entitled The Empty House, which is the one in which he makes his triumphant return. It is my opinion that no adaptation or at least no adaptation of the 21st Century has gotten the character of Sherlock Holmes wholly correct. Some adaptations, especially the older ones, have painted him as simply serious crime solver. Some make him out to be an anti-social, strange inventor and boxer/badass (Sherlock Holmes movies of 2009 and 2011). Others turn him into a genius that is so weird that he could possible suffer from Asperger’s and couldn’t function without the help from Watson (BBC’s Sherlock). It is my impression that while many of these characteristics are based on Conan Doyle’s original Holmes that they are exaggerated depending on the focus or feel of the movie.

Regardless, there is no doubt that Sherlock Homes and his friend and co-worker, Watson, are beloved characters. According to IMDB, there are well over 200 movies or television shows or mini-series with Sherlock Holmes as a main character. This causes me to wonder why exactly this character is so treasured. Just from reflecting on the television shows and the movies that we have in abundance, it is obvious that everyone love a good detective. And, Sherlock Holmes seems to be the best detective there is because he solves crimes in a smart and humorous way. His skills of deduction are fascinating and always intriguing to see portrayed. The fact that Holmes works along side the police while at the same time snubbing them is pretty hilarious. Perhaps another reason we like Sherlock Holmes is because he has some idiosyncrasies just like all of us.

It is difficult for me to review Conan Doyle’s works because there are four novels and many, many short stories. I liked the novels over the short stories because there was a lot more plot development in the longer stories. Also, I found that many of the short stories simply had a plot that I found more interesting over others. From watching the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies and the Benedict Cumberbatch I expected there to be more of an overarching storyline with characters, such as Irene Adler and Professor Moriarty, that make multiple appearances or have big impacts on Holmes’ life, but I found that this is not the case in Conan Doyle’s works.

Irene Adler, referred to as “the woman”, appears in only one short story, A Scandal in Bohemia, (referred to in a couple others) and Professor Moriarty, who is said to be Holmes’ intellectual equal, appears in one short story, The Adventure of the Final Problem, and one of the novels, The Valley of Fear (also referred to in others). In both the aforementioned movies and television show, Irene Adler and Sherlock Holmes share a very intimate connection even though Conan Doyle via Watson notes at the beginning of her story that Holmes did not feel love towards her, merely a respect and awe. Likewise in the movies and in the television show, Professor Moriarty is ever present, even if only lurking behind the scenes, and is presented as a brilliant foil to Holmes’ genius and eccentricities. Part of me wants to criticize these adaptations for departing from the source material, but I know that having Rachel McAdams playing Irene Adler in both of the movies made the movies wonderfully more exciting then the short story. And, the Moriarty character in the BBC show is so amazingly creepy with his high-pitched taunting voice that I wouldn’t want it any other way.

While it was great to have all of the novels and short stories in one collection, I don’t feel like it is meant to be listened to all in a row. If you enjoy detective stories or Sherlock Holmes in particular, then I recommend reading or listening to one novel or a small group of short stories and then putting the collection away and picking up again later. Read it or listen to it in bits so that you don’t get burned out. The narrator for this collection, Simon Vance, is one of the best narrators out there and, of course, does a great job with the characters, especially the smart aleck way that Holmes talks. I also highly recommend the more Robert Downey Jr. movies and the BBC Sherlock series, which can currently be found on Netflix.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes: The Heirloom Collection – Audiobook

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