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REALJimBob

Fortysomething, photographer slacker, working in IT, living in Greenwich; failed polymath; drinks and eats too much, reads too little...

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #4) -  Arthur Conan Doyle

Another collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories, this time packaged as the memoirs of rather than the adventures of, but the format is the same: eleven stories from the archives of Dr. Watson. Some are from Holmes's early days, some from when Holmes and Watson were besties and some from after Watson had married and moved out. There are some innovations too however.

 

Firstly, we find out in The Greek Interpreter, that Holmes has a brother – Mycroft – who turns out to be much more corpulent than the TV representations had ever suggested. And, secondly, we find out that Holmes has an arch-nemesis – Moriaty – a criminal mastermind who suddenly appears out of nowhere in the final story, suitably titled The Final Problem. As with Irene Adler in the previous collection, these appearances seem a little sudden and a little short-lived compared with the frequent TV adaptations. One story in a collection of short stories certainly seems like much less than is deserved for the man who is not only the evil equal of Holmes, but as we probably already know manages to kill him at the end of only his first appearance. Feeling more like an unsatisfying postscript to the career of Holmes, The Final Problem, is disappointing and frustrating. Leading, as it did to the 8 year 'Great Hiatus'.

 

All the stories (unsatisfying endings aside) are good solid Holmes fare. Although Doyle does seem to be over-relying on the idea of the changed identity: the character who we think is one thing turns out to be somebody else. I generally found myself on the right track with solving the cases as Holmes does, but that certainly didn't spoil them for me. The charm of the stories is as much, if not more, in the characters of Holmes and Watson as it is in the complexity of the crimes and puzzles.

 

The two other stories that stuck with me ‒ although not necessarily for the right reasons – were The Yellow Face where we witness some very unsettling racism against the child of a mixed-race marriage where the child is made to wear a mask; and Silver Blaze which is effectively subtitled by Holmes as "the curious incident of the dog in the night-time" – an interesting nod, presumably made back to the story from Mark Haddon's own novel of that title.