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Saturday, February 27, 2010

audio review: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

cover art from Headline Book Publishing
Sherlock Holmes Anthologies #1:
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Doyle

This is a series of short stories about a detective Sherlock Holmes, and his assistant, Dr. Watson. The detective is at the height of his powers and the volume is full of famous cases, including:
"The Red-Headed League"
"The Blue Carbuncle"
and "The Speckled Band."

adult fiction ; historical ; mystery { genre
PG-13 for mild violence { rating
1892 (audio book released 2001) { first released
Alec Reid Recordings, read by John Telfer (10h15min) { review edition
free legal download { acquisition
Download Free Audio Book { purchase links

Why I Read This
Listening to the entire original Sherlock Holmes collection narrated by John Telfer. Even though I read (parts) of this before, I'm still up for a refresher on the details I may have forgotten.

First Lines
To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. 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. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position...
(from Scandal in Bohemia)

Overall Rating
☂☂☂☂

This is a reread for me, and as such with rereads of mystery novels, it's harder to be surprised. That said, I did deeply enjoy the majority of the stories as I recognized the little clues dropped here and there along the way. I am also continuously surprised at the range of voices Mr. Telfer is able to emulate, it is almost like listening to a full-cast show!

review posted to goodreads

Mini-Reviews


Since this is a short story anthology, I will give a brief summary of each case, along with a rating and my thoughts.

I. A Scandal in Bohemia ☂☂☂☂.5
A high-ranking foreign nobleman comes to seek Holmes' help in retrieving a damning photograph.
It's almost fun seeing Sherlock Holmes be thwarted by a woman, even though he gains his own little victories. This is less of a mystery than a psychological cat&mouse between Holmes and The Woman.
II. The Red-Headed League ☂☂☂☂
A poor working man is confused and anxious when his new but suspiciously altruistic office of employment disappears.
This reminds me of why I love Mr. Doyle's stories so much: the criminals are just as intelligent and resourceful as Holmes. They execute their plans in a most "singular" (I love how Watson uses that word for EVERY case lol) fashion, and it's up to the detective to make sense out of nonsense.
III. A Case of Identity ☂☂☂.5
A sheltered young lady asks Holmes to help her find her missing lover.
Passably interesting, though a slight suspension of belief might be required here regarding facial recognition. It's interesting to note that the true motive behind the crime is a recurring one in Holmes' many cases, but Mr. Doyle manages to package each one interesting enough in their own right.
IV. The Boscombe Valley Mystery ☂☂☂.5
A young man is put in jail for murdering his father after a verbal argument, but Holmes' client is adamant upon his innocence.
Features another often-used trope, but the clues were quite interesting to figure out. Word-play a la Study in Scarlet, and restrictive timeline in clearing the name of an innocent.
V. The Five Orange Pips ☂☂☂.5
A young man's uncle and father are both killed after receiving an omnious letter containing five orange pips, and he fears he may be next.
I found this one quite a bit suspenseful because the client comes to Holmes before the crime rather than after. It plays out more like a serial murder than the usual weird cases though.
VI. The Man with the Twisted Lip ☂☂☂☂
A wife saw her husband moments before they find his bloodied clothes, but a body has yet to turn up.
Watson finds Holmes "undercover" in an opium den LOL. I did like the little twist towards the end of where the husband actually ended up.
VII. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle ☂☂☂☂
An unexpected mystery links up with Holmes' casual examination of a misplaced hat.
It's quite exciting to listen to Holmes as he deduces a plethora of facts about its wearer out of a hat. The little "goose" chase that follows is also quite amusing and rather light compared to the other cases.
VIII. The Adventure of the Speckled Band ☂☂☂☂.5
A young woman's sister is killed in her locked room with neither murder weapon nor blood found at the scene.
Arguably one of my favourite short stories so far, even if it's less than scientific. The clues just add up so nicely, and there is a bit of suspense thrown in.
IX. The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb ☂☂☂☂
An engineer begs Holmes to help him make sense of the events that lead to his thumb being chopped off.
This one is less mysterious than creepy, but of course there are the little "how'd they do its" dispersed in between.
X. The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor ☂☂☂.5
A newly-married man suspects his wife has been murdered by his jealous ex-lover.
I laugh at how self-centered this dude is, and Holmes laughs at his missing the important facts as well. Happy to say I'm starting to be able to catch onto things before Holmes explains them (I don't really remember reading this one so I don't think it is by memory) =D
XI. The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet ☂☂☂.5
A banker seeks Holmes' help after a national treasure is compromised under his care, the chief suspect being his own son.
We're treated to Holmes' ability to see through people's intents and motives, both in the case of who's lying and who's innocent. Adequate mystery that's not as complicated as some others, but still intricate.
XII. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches ☂☂☂☂
A governess confesses to Holmes her suspicions about a family that has hired her under incredulous terms.
Holmes admits his fears of the "normal" things other people see, because he knows crimes lurk just hidden beneath. The mystery itself was quite fun to follow, and the family just this side of creepy.

Sherlock Holmes Novels
#1 A Study in Scarlet (1887)
#2 The Sign of the Four (1890)
#3 The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
#4 The Valley of Fear (1915)

Sherlock Holmes Anthologies
#1 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
#2 The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893)
#3 The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1904)
#4 His Last Bow (1917)
#5 The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927)

Reading Challenges
Audio Book Challenge 2010
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4 comments:

Dannie said...

Ahh, Sherlock. Have you ever steered us wrong?

Love your blog, by the way. I'm a follower :D

NatalieSap said...

You know, as famous as he is, I don't think I've read a Sherlock Holmes mystery. I wonder if listening to it would be a wise choice for a first-timer... I'm surprised at how many stories were packed into 10 hours!

dArLyN said...

last time i read this was like ages ago when i'm an undergraduate. i found the story awesome with all the crap and mysterious things he found and solved. great review!

p/s: 10 hours? i'd rather read. *LOL*

April (BooksandWine) said...

Sherlock Holmes is awesome and perfect for audio-ing. So glad you enjoyed these books so much :-D