But anyway, these are twelve of the finest short mysteries ever penned. Magnificent. Terrific stuff, full of intrigue and menace and brilliant deductions. And excellent writing, nothing draggy or drab at all. Really, even if you don't care much for mysteries, try one or two of these stories just for the pure deliciousness of it all.
My favorites, in no particular order, are:
- "A Scandal in Bohemia." Yeah, the one with Irene Adler, aka The Woman. Great fun.
- "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle." I used to read this every Christmas, and have bits of it memorized.
- "The Adventure of the Speckled Band." Exceedingly creepy. Makes me shiver just thinking about it.
- "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches." Parts almost foreshadow The Hound of the Baskervilles. Also quite creepy. In a good way.
What I'd never noticed before is how many of these do not involve murder, or even the threat of murder. These days, if no one's been killed (or in danger of being killed), audiences get bored. Or at least, authors seem to worry about that. Think of all those police forensics shows on TV -- every episode of every show begins with some innocent person stumbling over a dead body. But six of these twelve stories don't have any death in them at all, not even a body that's presumed dead and later found alive! And still, they're engrossing.
(My dad has a gorgeous set of the complete Sherlock Holmes canon, and I took the liberty of doing a quick photo shoot with one volume while at my folks' a couple weeks ago, hence all the lovely pictures.)
EDIT: I forgot to include my favorite lines! Here they are. Silly me.
Particularly Good Bits:
"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence." ("The Red-headed League")
"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact," he answered, laughing. ("The Boscombe Valley Mystery")
"You have a grand gift of silence, Watson," said he. "It makes you quite invaluable as a companion." ("The Man with the Twisted Lip")
"I have seen too much not to know that the impression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner." ("The Man with the Twisted Lip")
"My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don't know." ("The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle")
If this was a movie, I would rate it: PG for dangerous situations and suspense.