Tag Archives: Classic

Sherlock Holmes and the Redheaded League by Arthur Conan Doyle


Sherlock Holmes and the Redheaded LeagueSherlock Holmes and the Redheaded League by Arthur Conan Doyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This type of story must be what the old series Columbo was based upon; the primary investigator already knows (more of less) all of the answers before any of the other participants in the case have even asked the first question! After pondering his “three-pipe-problem” Sherlock brings Watson and a couple of other spectators along for the ride, to where he has anticipated to locate and capture the assailant, and then almost immediately lapsing back into his between-case-state of lethargy and introspection.

Sherlock Holmes is the perfect dichotomy of extrovert and introvert, depending on whether he has a case that he deems suitable for his attention. It goes to show how a single person should not be labelled as one thing, or another. We all wear different hats on different days; a deerstalker perhaps one day, and a thinking-cap on another.

Personally, I was hoping for a more multifarious involvement of the “redheaded league” itself, rather than it just being the proverbial distraction or “red-herring”(!) but as this is one of the fairly short Sherlock stories, there wasn’t much room for anything too complex!

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A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle


A Scandal in Bohemia (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, #1)A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought that story was going to be longer, or was it that I simply consumed it quickly? It didn’t take much for a woman to outsmart Holmes in the end. Probably because the 19th century attitude gave women absolutely no credit for owning a brain. More fool them!

It shows how much potential this idea had even back then, that “The Woman” and her clever and wily ways can best even the greatest detective. Irene Adler was simply defending her own interests, and protecting herself (and the King of Bohemia) from any future scandal. She knew the value of the item she held, and will continue to keep her secret whilst starting a new life elsewhere.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


The Picture of Dorian GrayThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dorian Gray is a beautiful youth. After having posed for a portrait by his artist friend, he realises that the painting will always remain his perfect image, whilst his own body ages and dies. He declares that it should be the other way around. Slowly Dorian realises that inexplicably his portrait changes over time, whilst he appears to stay the same. Years pass as Dorian goes from one obsession to another, experiencing all that life has to offer. Friends and acquaintances come and go, and ultimately shun him once they have left his company. Dorian eventually resorts to extreme measures to keep his secret from others, but it’s not enough. Ultimately his attempt to destroy the painting, also destroys himself.

This is a curious period-piece of literature. Focusing almost entirely on Dorian’s relationships with his earliest friends, Basil and Lord Henry, the extreme life that Dorian leads is mostly inferred. With the exception of one or two scenes which are described in detail, you are expected to only imagine how badly he behaved when corrupting his other acquaintances! Presumably why they can neither look him in the eye, nor speak to him when they subsequently cross paths..

It’s no wonder the character and this story has been adapted and re-played over the years. Dorian Gray continues to intrigue as much today, as he did then.

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The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


The Sign of the Four
The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In terms of plot, this is not my favourite Sherlock Holmes novel. However in terms of “quotability”, some of the most memorable lines that are often repeated in various subsequent adaptations originate here.

Holmes begins this investigation after experiencing a period of boredom, and it is here where we are introduced to his recreational use of cocaine. This is explained simply as a way of providing a distraction for Holmes’ mind, which must be continually challenged at the highest level in order for him to even function on what we would consider a more “normal” level. In modern terms we may have diagnosed Sherlock Holmes as having a mild form of Autism or Asperger Syndrome; particularly with his intense focus on a single problem to the exclusion of all else, and his apparent inability to view a situation from another person’s perspective.

The case presented in this novel also introduces us to Miss Mary Morstan, and her relationship with Watson. The mystery is in fact fairly straight forwards, and Holmes has much of it figured out before long, but doesn’t reveal his insights until he has tracked down the supporting evidence.

It is the character development which is the highlight of this story; of all the main players, Holmes, Watson, and Mary Morstan.

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A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


A Study in Scarlet
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The original Sherlock Holmes story. The story that introduces both characters to the world. Dr Watson has returned from the war in Afghanistan in the late 1800s. Requiring a new place to live, he is introduced to the peculiar character of Mr Sherlock Holmes, and the rest is history! A legend is born.

The first case involves the death of a man in unusual circumstances, apparently a revenge killing, based on graffiti in blood found at the scene. Through his immense skill in observation and deduction, Sherlock unravels the mystery in no time. Much to the astonishment of Watson, who is our narrator and guide through the story.

Endlessly quotable. “There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it…”

A true masterpiece of detective writing.

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