Sherlock Holmes The complete novels and stories

Arthur Conan Doyle, 1859-1930

Book - 1986

Since his first appearance in "Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes has been one of the most beloved fictional characters ever created. Now, in two paperback volumes, Bantam presents all fifty-six short stories and four novels featuring Conan Doyle's classic hero--a truly complete collection of Sherlock.

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Short stories
Detective and mystery fiction
New York : Bantam 1986.
Main Author
Arthur Conan Doyle, 1859-1930 (-)
Bantam classic edition
Physical Description
2 volumes ; 18 cm
  • Volume 1. Introduction / by Loren D. Estleman
  • A study in scarlet
  • The sign of four
  • Adventures of Sherlock Holmes : A scandal in Bohemia ; The red-headed league ; A case of identity ; The Boscombe Valley mystery ; The five orange pips ; The man with the twisted lip ; The adventure of the blue carbuncle ; The adventure of the speckled band ; The adventure of the engineer's thumb ; The adventure of the noble bachelor ; The adventure of the beryl coronet ; The adventure of the copper beeches
  • Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes : Silver blaze ; The yellow face ; The stock-broker's clerk ; The "Gloria Scott" ; The Musgrave ritual ; The Reigate puzzle ; The crooked man ; The resident patient ; The Greek interpreter ; The naval treaty ; The final problem
  • The return of Sherlock Holmes : The adventure of the empty house ; The adventure of the Norwood builder ; The adventure of the dancing men ; The adventure of the solitary cyclist ; The adventure of the priory school ; The adventure of Black Peter ; The adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton ; The adventure of the six Napoleons ; The adventure of the three students ; The adventure of the golden pince-nez ; The adventure of the missing three-quarter ; The adventure of the abbey grange ; The adventure of the second stain.
  • Volume 2. Introduction / by Loren D. Estleman
  • The hound of the Baskervilles
  • The valley of fear
  • His last bow : The adventure of Wisteria Lodge : The singular experience of Mr. John Scott Eccles ; The tiger of San Pedro ; The adventure of the cardboard box ; The adventure of the red circle ; The adventure of the Bruce-Partington plans ; The adventure of the dying detective ; The disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax ; The adventure of the devil's foot ; His last bow
  • The case-book of Sherlock Holmes : The adventure of the illustrious client ; The adventure of the blanched soldier ; The adventure of the Mazarin stone ; The adventure of the three gables ; The adventure of the Sussex vampire ; The adventure of the three Garridebs ; The problem of Thor Bridge ; The adventure of the creeping man ; The adventure of the lion's mane ; The adventure of the veiled lodger ; The adventure of Shoscombe old place ; The adventure of the retired colourman.
Review by New York Times Review

If any fictional character can be said to be immortal, it is Sherlock Holmes. Surviving his own author's attempts to kill him, he has caught the imagination of each new generation, which has either faithfully continued to read his exploits in the original (sales have never flagged since the first novel, "A Study in Scarlet," appeared in 1887) or updated him (the BBC's "Sherlock" a notably successful version of this, but Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce did the same thing in 1942) or reinvented him, most entertainingly, perhaps, as Dr. Gregory House, in the eponymous series in which, for many seasons, Hugh Laurie played an irascible, drug-addicted surgeon of preternatural analytical penetration, solving apparently hopeless medical dilemmas. Almost from the beginning, too, other writers, eager to feed our insatiable appetite for his adventures, have written Sherlock Holmes stories set in the Victorian period, but engaging in unexpected encounters: In Nicholas Meyer's spirited "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution," Holmes, wrestling with the effects of his cocaine habit, seeks out Sigmund Freud; in Billy Wilder's underrated "Private Life of Sherlock Holmes," he runs up against Queen Victoria. He also sometimes pops up in other people's plays: I fondly recall a version of "The Cherry Orchard" in which Holmes was called in to investigate the drowning of Mme. Ranevskaya's son (it turned out that the governess, Carlotta Ivanovna, was in fact the son, who never did drown). The reasons for Holmes's enduring fascination are easy to understand. He restores logic to an unruly, disturbingly incomprehensible world. Initial chaos - the crime - appears to be without meaning. The great detective, inhumanly brilliant, makes sense of things again. As W. H. Auden remarked in his famous essay "The Guilty Vicarage," "Holmes is the exceptional individual who is in a state of grace because he is a genius in whom scientific curiosity is raised to the status of a heroic passion." We come to him like frightened children, in search of explanations. He will never fail us. At least in the realm of crime - though not in the territory of the human heart - he sheds light where there has previously only been darkness. He is clever Daddy, who leaves us reassured, able to sleep at night. But he is by no means perfect. Conan Doyle's coup de maÎtre, as Watson might say, is to make his hero a flawed man, prone to deep melancholia, liable to escape into cocaine- or opium-induced oblivion. He has the soul of an artist, as demonstrated in his violin playing: He is prepared to please Watson by knocking offsome Mendelssohn or Wagner, but when leftto himself, he "scrapes carelessly" at the fiddle thrown across his knee. Sometimes, Watson tells us, the chords were sonorous and melancholy, sometimes fantastic and cheery: obviously an avant-gardist at work. Holmes's behavior, tut-tuts Watson, is bohemian: His papers are piled up higgledy-piggledy all over his rooms, he is entirely disorganized domestically, he is given to long bouts of brooding silence. Nothing that is not germane to his work as a consulting detective is allowed to clutter up his mind. He is indifferent to literature, knows little of history, and cosmology has no part in his intellectual framework. This, too, has endeared Holmes to his readers: The genius is vulnerable, his mental prowess bought at a cost. No doubt some doughty psychobiographer has decreed that the great detective was bipolar, or autistic, or had Asperger's syndrome. But does his vivid outline of a character really qualify Holmes, as Stephen Fry suggests in one of his forewords to this huge spoken omnium-gatherum of the stories and novels, as "one of the most rounded characters ever to have been realized"? He should, Fry proposes, be admitted into the pantheon of supreme literary figures, rubbing shoulders with Falstaffor Hamlet or Don Quixote. But these great personages seem to have an anarchic life of their own, constantly taking us by surprise and bursting out of the parameters of the works in which they find themselves. Whereas the pleasure of reading the Holmes stories is that they are entirely predictable: Holmes is presented with a problem, which, by one means or another, he solves. We, the readers, pit ourselves against his cleverness: Will we be able to get the solution before he does? No, of course we won't, because Conan Doyle is pulling the strings to make sure that we don't. He is a master storyteller, no question about that. We hang on his every word. And he very shrewdly pairs his master detective with a genial duffer as a sidekick and gives him a dastardly opponent in the fiendish master criminal, "the Napoleon of crime," Prof. James Moriarty. All hugely entertaining, but nothing in the books can penetrate our subconscious, because they are the product of a controlling mind. This is by no means to question the pleasure they give, simply to doubt their greatness, a claim Fry frequently makes for them. He verges on the hyperbolic, telling us, for example, that Holmes's death upset the reading public more than any other death in literature; scarcely more than Little Nell's, I think, which almost literally brought the nation to a standstill. But despite the odd extravagance, these spoken forewords of Fry's constitute one of the set's major pleasures, illuminated by informed enthusiasm and personal revelation: In one he rather touchingly recounts how his first encounter with Holmes, at a very early age, changed his life, leading him on to truancy, expulsion from school and, finally, briefly, prison. The pairing of Fry and Holmes is a bit of a marriage made in heaven, in fact. In Britain, he is himself almost as much of a national treasure as Holmes: a public figure whose every utterance is avidly reported and disseminated throughout the Twittersphere, his bipolarity, his obsessions with technology, his amatory affairs, all reported on constantly, the contents of his richly stocked mind on permanent display in TV documentaries, his books lining the shelves. One of his outstanding ancillary skills is reading out loud. He is the marathon man of audiobooks: When he recorded the first of the Harry Potter novels for BBC radio, all other programs on the biggest channel, Radio 4, were suspended, the day being given over entirely to Fry's Rowling. The nation could hope for no one better to sit at its bedside, soothingly and wittily lulling it into purring contentment. In the Holmes books, he reads just under a thousand pages in his wonderfully even and infallibly intelligent voice, touching the characters in deftly - the books field a very large number of well-educated middleaged men, and it must have been difficult to differentiate one from another. Otherwise, he finds a variety of accents and tones for the many foreigners Holmes encounters; his American accents are lightly done, without attempting, for example, a Utah accent in "A Study in Scarlet." Inevitably the poverty of some of the dialogue is exposed in reading it out loud, as are the merely serviceable descriptive passages. Fry's triumph is in striking and maintaining exactly the right tone for the narrations, all, with a handful of exceptions, in the comfortable, slightly pompous voice of Dr. James Watson, Boswell to the great man's Johnson. Fry's Holmes is sharp-witted and mercurial, though not especially idiosyncratic: quite right, as he is merely being reported by dear old Watson. But Fry's skill in phrasing and articulation over the whole 60-plus hours is beyond praise. How he relishes a sentence like "The conversation, which had roamed in a desultory, spasmodic fashion from golf clubs to the causes of the change in the obliquity of the ecliptic, came round at last to the question of atavism and hereditary aptitudes." Every consonant in place, every phrase perfectly shaped and filled with sense. There are other complete recorded Holmeses (as it happens, the current collection omits the last book of all, presumably on copyright grounds), but none that sustains the course so buoyantly, and none with the added pleasure of the reader's pithy commentary on each book. SIMON CALLOW is a British actor, director and writer. He has played Sherlock Holmes twice (on radio) and Inspector Lestrade once (on television, opposite Charlton Heston).

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [December 10, 2017]
Review by Booklist Review

This handy paperback duo honors the memory of Arthur Conan Doyle's enduring fictional creation by encompassing the entire canon of Sherlock Holmes short tales (56) and novels (4). The larger of the two, volume 1, serves up Doyle's classic short story ``The Red-headed League'' in addition to the novels A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four and 35 more stories. The more-abbreviated, but no less important, volume 2 features 20 short pieces and the novels The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear. Good mystery collections will benefit by the addition of this comprehensive and inexpensive set. MAB.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.

chapter 1 Mr. Sherlock Holmes IN THE year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the Army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as assistant surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in the enemy's country. I followed, however, with many other officers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment, and at once entered upon my new duties. The campaign brought honours and promotion to many, but for me it had nothing but misfortune and disaster. I was removed from my brigade and attached to the Berkshires, with whom I served at the fatal battle of Maiwand. There I was struck on the shoulder by a Jezail bullet, which shattered the bone and grazed the subclavian artery. I should have fallen into the hands of the murderous Ghazis had it not been for the devotion and courage shown by Murray, my orderly, who threw me across a packhorse, and succeeded in bringing me safely to the British lines. Worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged hardships which I had undergone, I was removed, with a great train of wounded sufferers, to the base hospital at Peshawar. Here I rallied, and had already improved so far as to be able to walk about the wards, and even to bask a little upon the veranda, when I was struck down by enteric fever, that curse of our Indian possessions. For months my life was despaired of, and when at last I came to myself and became convalescent, I was so weak and emaciated that a medical board determined that not a day should be lost in sending me back to England. I was despatched, accordingly, in the troopship Orontes, and landed a month later on Portsmouth jetty, with my health irretrievably ruined, but with permission from a paternal government to spend the next nine months in attempting to improve it. I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air--or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained. There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had, considerably more freely than I ought. So alarming did the state of my finances become, that I soon realized that I must either leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in the country, or that I must make a complete alteration in my style of living. Choosing the latter alternative, I began by making up my mind to leave the hotel, and take up my quarters in some less pretentious and less expensive domicile. On the very day that I had come to this conclusion, I was standing at the Criterion Bar, when someone tapped me on the shoulder, and turning round I recognized young Stamford, who had been a dresser under me at Bart's. The sight of a friendly face in the great wilderness of London is a pleasant thing indeed to a lonely man. In old days Stamford had never been a particular crony of mine, but now I hailed him with enthusiasm, and he, in his turn, appeared to be delighted to see me. In the exuberance of my joy, I asked him to lunch with me at the Holborn, and we started off together in a hansom. "Whatever have you been doing with yourself, Watson?" he asked in undisguised wonder, as we rattled through the crowded London streets. "You are as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut." I gave him a short sketch of my adventures, and had hardly concluded it by the time that we reached our destination. "Poor devil!" he said, commiseratingly, after he had listened to my misfortunes. "What are you up to now?" "Looking for lodgings," I answered. "Trying to solve the problem as to whether it is possible to get comfortable rooms at a reasonable price." "That's a strange thing," remarked my companion; "you are the second man today that has used that expression to me." "And who was the first?" I asked. "A fellow who is working at the chemical laboratory up at the hospital. He was bemoaning himself this morning because he could not get someone to go halves with him in some nice rooms which he had found, and which were too much for his purse." "By Jove!" I cried; "if he really wants someone to share the rooms and the expense, I am the very man for him. I should prefer having a partner to being alone." Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me over his wineglass. "You don't know Sherlock Holmes yet," he said; "perhaps you would not care for him as a constant companion." "Why, what is there against him?" "Oh, I didn't say there was anything against him. He is a little queer in his ideas--an enthusiast in some branches of science. As far as I know he is a decent fellow enough." "A medical student, I suppose?" said I. "No--I have no idea what he intends to go in for. I believe he is well up in anatomy, and he is a first-class chemist; but, as far as I know, he has never taken out any systematic medical classes. His studies are very desultory and eccentric, but he has amassed a lot of out-of-the-way knowledge which would astonish his professors." "Did you never ask him what he was going in for?" I asked. "No; he is not a man that it is easy to draw out, though he can be communicative enough when the fancy seizes him." "I should like to meet him," I said. "If I am to lodge with anyone, I should prefer a man of studious and quiet habits. I am not strong enough yet to stand much noise or excitement. I had enough of both in Afghanistan to last me for the remainder of my natural existence. How could I meet this friend of yours?" "He is sure to be at the laboratory," returned my companion. "He either avoids the place for weeks, or else he works there from morning till night. If you like, we will drive round together after luncheon." "Certainly," I answered, and the conversation drifted away into other channels. As we made our way to the hospital after leaving the Holborn, Stamford gave me a few more particulars about the gentleman whom I proposed to take as a fellow-lodger. "You mustn't blame me if you don't get on with him," he said; "I know nothing more of him than I have learned from meeting him occasionally in the laboratory. You proposed this arrangement, so you must not hold me responsible." "If we don't get on it will be easy to part company," I answered. "It seems to me, Stamford," I added, looking hard at my companion, "that you have some reason for washing your hands of the matter. Is this fellow's temper so formidable, or what is it? Don't be mealymouthed about it." "It is not easy to express the inexpressible," he answered with a laugh. "Holmes is a little too scientific for my tastes--it approaches to cold-bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects. To do him justice, I think that he would take it himself with the same readiness. He appears to have a passion for definite and exact knowledge." "Very right too." "Yes, but it may be pushed to excess. When it comes to beating the subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick, it is certainly taking rather a bizarre shape." "Beating the subjects!" "Yes, to verify how far bruises may be produced after death. I saw him at it with my own eyes." "And yet you say he is not a medical student?" "No. Heaven knows what the objects of his studies are. But here we are, and you must form your own impressions about him." As he spoke, we turned down a narrow lane and passed through a small side door, which opened into a wing of the great hospital. It was familiar ground to me, and I needed no guiding as we ascended the bleak stone staircase and made our way down the long corridor with its vista of whitewashed wall and dun-coloured doors. Near the farther end a low arched passage branched away from it and led to the chemical laboratory. This was a lofty chamber, lined and littered with countless bottles. Broad, low tables were scattered about, which bristled with retorts, test-tubes, and little Bunsen lamps, with their blue flickering flames. There was only one student in the room, who was bending over a distant table absorbed in his work. At the sound of our steps he glanced round and sprang to his feet with a cry of pleasure. "I've found it! I've found it," he shouted to my companion, running towards us with a test-tube in his hand. "I have found a re-agent which is precipitated by h?moglobin, and by nothing else." Had he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could not have shone upon his features. "Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said Stamford, introducing us. "How are you?" he said cordially, gripping my hand with a strength for which I should hardly have given him credit. "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive." "How on earth did you know that?" I asked in astonishment. "Never mind," said he, chuckling to himself. "The question now is about h?moglobin. No doubt you see the significance of this discovery of mine?" "It is interesting, chemically, no doubt," I answered, "but practically----" "Why, man, it is the most practical medico-legal discovery for years. Don't you see that it gives us an infallible test for blood stains? Come over here now!" He seized me by the coat-sleeve in his eagerness, and drew me over to the table at which he had been working. "Let us have some fresh blood," he said, digging a long bodkin into his finger, and drawing off the resulting drop of blood in a chemical pipette. "Now, I add this small quantity of blood to a litre of water. You perceive that the resulting mixture has the appearance of pure water. The proportion of blood cannot be more than one in a million. I have no doubt, however, that we shall be able to obtain the characteristic reaction." As he spoke, he threw into the vessel a few white crystals, and then added some drops of a transparent fluid. In an instant the contents assumed a dull mahogany colour, and a brownish dust was precipitated to the bottom of the glass jar. "Ha! ha!" he cried, clapping his hands, and looking as delighted as a child with a new toy. "What do you think of that?" "It seems to be a very delicate test," I remarked. "Beautiful! beautiful! The old guaiacum test was very clumsy and uncertain. So is the microscopic examination for blood corpuscles. The latter is valueless if the stains are a few hours old. Now, this appears to act as well whether the blood is old or new. Had this test been invented, there are hundreds of men now walking the earth who would long ago have paid the penalty of their crimes." "Indeed!" I murmured. "Criminal cases are continually hinging upon that one point. A man is suspected of a crime months perhaps after it has been committed. His linen or clothes are examined and brownish stains discovered upon them. Are they blood stains, or mud stains, or rust stains, or fruit stains, or what are they? That is a question which has puzzled many an expert, and why? Because there was no reliable test. Now we have the Sherlock Holmes's test, and there will no longer be any difficulty." His eyes fairly glittered as he spoke, and he put his hand over his heart and bowed as if to some applauding crowd conjured up by his imagination. "You are to be congratulated," I remarked, considerably surprised at his enthusiasm. "There was the case of Von Bischoff at Frankfort last year. He would certainly have been hung had this test been in existence. Then there was Mason of Bradford, and the notorious Muller, and Lefevre of Montpellier, and Samson of New Orleans. I could name a score of cases in which it would have been decisive." "You seem to be a walking calendar of crime," said Stamford with a laugh. "You might start a paper on those lines. Call it the 'Police News of the Past.' " "Very interesting reading it might be made, too," remarked Sherlock Holmes, sticking a small piece of plaster over the prick on his finger. "I have to be careful," he continued, turning to me with a smile, "for I dabble with poisons a good deal." He held out his hand as he spoke, and I noticed that it was all mottled over with similar pieces of plaster, and discoloured with strong acids. "We came here on business," said Stamford, sitting down on a high three-legged stool, and pushing another one in my direction with his foot. "My friend here wants to take diggings; and as you were complaining that you could get no one to go halves with you, I thought that I had better bring you together." Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea of sharing his rooms with me. "I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street," he said, "which would suit us down to the ground. You don't mind the smell of strong tobacco, I hope?" "I always smoke 'ship's' myself," I answered. "That's good enough. I generally have chemicals about, and occasionally do experiments. Would that annoy you?" "By no means." "Let me see--what are my other shortcomings? I get in the dumps at times, and don't open my mouth for days on end. You must not think I am sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and I'll soon be right. What have you to confess now? It's just as well for two fellows to know the worst of one another before they begin to live together." I laughed at this cross-examination. "I keep a bull pup," I said, "and I object to rows because my nerves are shaken, and I get up at all sorts of ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy. I have another set of vices when I'm well, but those are the principal ones at present." Excerpted from Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.