i. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
ii. Dracula – Bram Stoker
1. Lolita– Vladimir Nabokov
2. Holiday in Cambodia – Laura Jean McKay
3. Only Human – Gareth Roberts
4. Beautiful Chaos – Gary Russell
5. The Silent Stars – Dan Abnett
6. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
7. Every Breath – Ellie Marney
8. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
9. Delirium – Lauren Oliver
10. Pandemonium – Lauren Oliver
11. Requiem – Lauren Oliver
12. Venom – Fiona Paul
13. Belladonna – Fiona Paul
14. A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
My very first experience with the great Sherlock Holmes was in 2009 with Robert Downey Jr. I was sucked in by his logic, intelligence, mystery, and the sheer love that Holmes has for his work. I loved watching the final scenes, where Holmes explains to Watson how he solved Lord Blackwood. Ingenious. Or just plain genius.
I also loved the fact that the consulting detective was in love with a thief. Take that Romeo and Juliet.
I think I read one or two of the original short stories after the movie but I don’t remember them. In fact, I think it more likely that I flicked through the stories, read a passage here and there, and then gave the book back to the friend who had lent it to me. Shameful, I know.
Next came Game of Shadows in 2011 and then the BBC miracle of Sherlock with the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. I stumbled into Sherlock quite by accident. I am a Whovian from way back and I was trolling the Internet one day for anything and everything in the Whoniverse, when I found an article about the TV show and Steven Moffat. So the show essentially combined Sherlock Holmes with Doctor Who. How could I say no?
Holmes and Watson, in the BBC show, have the most perfect bromance. I know there are tonnes and tonnes of fanfiction out there, sailing the S.S. Johnlock, but I love those two just the way they are. Especially after the series two finale when John begs Sherlock not to be dead. I actually heard my heart break. I desperately need to know how John will react when he finds out that Sherlock didn’t die.
All of this led to me making probably one of the very least financially responsible decisions I have made in a long time. When I decided to read the original stories, I was faced with two choices:
a. Buy the complete collection of the Sherlock Holmes stories for $40 OR,
b. Buy the BBC reissue for each of the collections, with introductions written by Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Martin Freeman, and Benedict Cumberbatch (I will never get tired of that name), for $20 each.
It was a no-brainer really. I am a fangirl through and through.
The introduction was definitely worth the extra money. Mark Gatiss gives us a modern-day look into the stories before we read them. It eased me into the Victorian prose, for one thing. I can’t wait to read what Moffat, Freeman, and Cumberbatch have to say in the books to come.
These stories were first released in various periodicals in the last 1800’s. Basically, with each new magazine, readers got another “episode” of Sherlock Holmes. This was the feeling I got as I made my way through Sherlock’s adventures; that I was reading one of the very first police dramas. The stories are formulaic, but in a good way. They usually start at Baker Street, a client rings the bell and then Holmes and Watson embark upon solving whichever mystery is set before them. Imagine every cop show you have ever watched. There’s the discovery of the crime, the hunting for clues, and then the debriefing at the end. This is exactly what it was like reading Sherlock Holmes. I think I actually prefer it this way. Reading the “show” requires a great deal more brain power than simply watching.
Then there is the added bonus of recognising what you read. In “A Scandal in Bohemia”, for example, you get the entire plot of “A Scandal in Belgravia”, with the infamous Irene Adler.
To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.
I love that. Although it means something different in the stories. Sherlock was bested by Adler and refuses to use her name after he had been so thwarted. But in every reincarnation of Holmes that I have seen, including the Jonny Lee Miller representation in the absolutely American Elementary, Adler is his love interest. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but this was not how Sherlock operated.
It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise, but admirably balanced mind.
Plus, in the final story of this collection, I stumbled across this gem:
Remember the scene, in the 2009 movie, where Holmes leads the police on a wild goose chase for some kind of scented powder and convinces them that it’s important by uttering the completely egotistical phrase “Data, data, data; I cannot make bricks without clay.”? Yeah, Holmes actually said that. How extraordinary.
But what struck me most was this tiny little quote that was hiding in “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet”:
Sherlock Holmes pushed him down into the easy-chair and, sitting beside him, patted his hand and chatted with him in the easy, soothing tones which he knew so well how to employ.
Sherlock was not only brilliant, but able to sense when his clients needed soothing. This is a far cry from the aloof Sherlock of the modern interpretations. I don’t know why the modern Sherlock has to be so cold. Unless, of course, it’s because no one would relate if Sherlock was so singularly gifted and nice to people.
Although, Sherlock does rip into Watson’s literary ability in this collection, so maybe it’s not such a leap.
I am not going to rate this book. It is a classic, and therefore what could I possibly have to critique? But I will say this: if you love Sherlock Holmes as much as I do, then you should definitely read this book.
If not just for the fact that Sherlock can, in fact, identify over 100 different kinds of cigarette ash.