The Sherlock Holmes stories are remarkable. While there have been some innovators in the detective genre in past 90 years or so that have added new wrinkles and and twists to the genre, Doyle’s work stands up as must-read for serious mystery fans.
There were countless genius detectives solving crimes, but none are loved or revered like Sherlock Holmes. While there were a few stories that didn’t work and some people read struggle with the Victorian setting, the Sherlock Holmes canon of fifty-six short stories and four novels has stood the test of time remarkably well. Which of them are the best?
Over the next three weeks, I’ll post my list of the top twelve Sherlock Holmes’ stories:
12) The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (1892):
This is one of the definitive holiday detective stories. This murderless mystery is a great puzzle that begins simply enough after a man lost his hat and a Christmas goose. It really starts with what seems like an incident that seems like it should be beneath the notice of the great Sherlock Holmes but is really a fascinating puzzle. Doyle shows that while some mysteries involve sensational or salacious details, it’s not always necessary. I also love how the ending is both consistent with Holmes’ character and appropriate for the spirit of the Season.
11) The Devil’s Foot (1910):
The story tells of Holmes and Watson visiting Cornwall for a rest. However, Holmes is pulled into investigating a mysterious death and insanity that afflicted a family. It is a haunting and chilling story that manages to merge the right elements of horror and the detective story. Great atmosphere throughout and a satisfying resolution makes this a winning story.
10) The Empty House (1903)
Sherlock Holmes was a character not even his creator could kill off. The “Empty House” is a wonderful story that tells us what really happened when Holmes faced Moriarty in, “The Final Problem” and then sets Holmes against the deadly Colonel Sebastian Moran. This was a great story to welcome Sherlock Holmes back to literary life.
9) The Adventure of the Naval Treaty (1893):
A truly engaging mystery. It manages to have major stakes with British national security, while also present a more personal problem for a young diplomat for whom the disappearance of this treaty has cast a shadow over his career. The story is engaging with some great clues, a great conclusion, and Holmes wrapping it all up with a theatrical flourish.
8) The Problem of Thor Bridge (1922)
This story of a seemingly sweet and benevolent governess facing a charge for murder is one of the best of the later Sherlock Holmes stories. The “Problem of Thor Bridge” is engaging and the solution is classic. While many 1920s Holmes stories are disliked by fans and critics alike, this one is a true gem.
Continued Next week…
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