It has been quite some time since I read any of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. I do, though, try to stay connected. I read and disliked The Sherlockian earlier this year, and I try to watch the Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law version every couple months. I also stumbled across the BBC version of Sherlock and loved it. I love mysteries and always have, and Holmes’s acute observation skills are incredibly interesting to me.
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of short tales that Watson pulls from his old files in order to give a more complete recollection of Holmes’s abilities, up to and including his last case involving Professor Moriarty, called “The Final Problem.”
Though these are very short stories, several of them are fantastic, including “The Naval Treaty” and “The Adventure of the Yellow Face” -both really fantastic short mysteries, one involving a case of brain fever and a stolen treaty and the latter tackling race in a quiet but sweet way. It was a really endearing story with a fantastic ending.
I can see where long-time Sherlock fans would be disappointed in the brevity of these tales; however, I liked getting a glimpse of some lesser-known and easily-solved cases. Holmes needed the money and was bored and destructive without a case, so it makes sense he would take some simple ones.
My only complaint is “The Final Problem” because it felt unfinished. Watson is reluctant to tell the tale and tells the reader he only gives in because Moriarty’s relation has told an altogether untrue version of Holmes’s demise. However, Holmes’s battle with Moriarty occurs in the years after Watson is happily married and when, Watson tells us, he only assists Holmes with about three cases per year. Therefore, he isn’t clued in to what is going on, and unfortunately, Holmes doesn’t have the time within the telling to divulge just what has happened, other than that Moriarty is a match to his wits and skill and that he is a dangerous criminal mastermind. I kept thinking I’d get more because Holmes tells Watson he’s done some of the finest work ever and seems intensely proud of himself…but nada. In fact, I’m not enough of a Sherlockian or Holmesian to know if Doyle ever told this story in more detail. Inquiring minds want to know.
All in all, this was a very fun read and one that adds and doesn’t detract from Holmes’ lore. It has also made me even more eager for December 2011 and this…