The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Monday, September 26, 2011

Title: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: Classic, mystery
Publisher: (This version) Penguin, 2011
Source: NetGalley
Read for: Review, R.I.P Challenge

Sherlock Holmes is truly a name that needs no introduction, but I do briefly want to explain this version. It is meant to correlate with the film coming out in December (anyone out there as excited as I am?). The first film was based on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a similar volume containing short stories of Holmes' and Watson's adventures, and I am under the impression that this release contains the inspiration for the new film. It has a significant story about Professor Moriarty, so I'm guessing that is the case. Regardless, I loved the first movie and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (I'm still hoping to make use of my plan to be Irene Adler for Halloween one of these years) and I as excited to read Memoirs.

Dorky Holmes. 

One thing I immediately noticed is that the Sherlock Holmes of Memoirs is much saltier than the Holmes of Adventures. It may just be my memory, but in Adventures, he is milder - still
obsessive, still inhumanly intelligent, but a little more believable as the icon of Sherlock Holmes I always pictured as a child (you know, funny hat, mustache, spectacles, a little dopey). However, the Sherlock Holmes of Memoirs is much more akin to the character pictured in the first film  - a boxer, addicted to cocaine, living in filth when he can't find a case, and, overall, rather alluring. We also find out more details from Holmes' personal life in Memoirs - we have the opportunity to read his first case, before his friendship with Watson began, and are also introduced to a family member. We see Holmes a bit more vulnerable than perhaps we've seen him before (although I should concede that Adventures begins with Holmes being bested by Irene Adler, definitely a vulnerable spot for him). In any case, I enjoyed the characterization of Holmes much more in this book - I feel like he is more developed as a character. And I was happy to see that the filmmakers weren't just taking liberties and making Holmes more appealing - he really does have the traits he is given in the films.
Awesome Holmes. 

The stories themselves left me with mixed feelings. I'm not generally a mystery lover - it is one of the few genres I tend to avoid (although I'm planning on giving Jasper Fforde a try next year). The Sherlock Holmes books are among the few mysteries that I read, and it is because I enjoy Holmes and Watson's personalities more than anything. Stories that did stand out to me were "The Musgrave Ritual" because it was creepy and unique, "The Greek Interpreter" due to the family member we were introduced to and the awesome interplay between Holmes and his relative, and "The Final Problem," because it related to Moriarty. While not all the stories stood out to me, they were all well-written and interesting. It's always fascinating to see how Holmes finds his solutions - occasionally I can pick them out, but in general it isn't until his logic unveils the secret that I can understand how he solved the problem. It would be interesting to have known Arthur Conan Doyle - I wonder if he puzzled things out the same as Holmes.

So overall - an enjoyable addition to the Sherlock Holmes books. By no means my favorite book of all time, but certainly enjoyable, and I can't wait for the movie to come out.

3.5 stars

Warnings: Unlawful behavior. Obviously.


  1. I love Sherlock Holmes, but I haven't read all of them and it's actually been a long time since I read any. I didn't know about the way they did the movies based on the two books, though, I'll have to get on that before December. So much to read.

    Also, I saw this today.

  2. I read The adventures of Sherlock Holmes ages ago. I haven't seen the film, though. I might pick up this release, it sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.

  3. Allison - They loosely base them on the books, or at least that is what I noticed with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but it is fun to see the parallels they draw. And that is very interesting about the first novel! Thanks for pointing that out.

    Pepca - I think you would really like the film! I would definitely recommend it.

  4. My Mom lended me the movie quite some time ago, but I've refrained from watching because - shocker- I've never actually read any of the Holmes mysteries. I saw a trailer for the newest movie and it seemed entertaining enough. I was thinking of incorporating one of these for the RIP challenge. I might still do on based on your review- although I'm assuming I should start with the first you mentioned. Thanks!

  5. First of all, let me say this: I have never read anything at all about Sherlock Holmes. Sad, but true. But the cover of this book is AMAZING, and I would pick it up on the cover alone. (not sure if I would like it, as I am not much of a mystery girl, but I would give it a try)

    Let me get this straight: this book goes before the next movie? I mean, I've seen the first movie and I loved it. So should I read this book before I watch the next movie, never having read any Sherlock Holmes before? Or would I be confused. (I'll admit I was a little confused by the movie, because it assumed the viewer had some background in Holmes. Thank goodness hubby was right there with me to explain those parts.)


  6. I am actually reading this right now. I am hoping to enjoy it!

  7. @Beth - Oh my goodness, watch the movie even if you haven't read the mysteries. I actually read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes the night I saw the movie - I loved it so much that I picked up the book. Hope you enjoy it.

    @Asheley - I don't think you need to read the book before watching the movie. I'm not sure what exactly the movie will emphasize, because the last movie definitely had a huge conglomerate of aspects of different stories with some unique material as well. I had never read Sherlock Holmes before watching the first movie and I still thought it was tons of fun! But I know that you like to read the books first so it might be a good thing for you :)

    @Kailana - Enjoy! It is fun. :)


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