Book reviews

Posts tagged ‘Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’

Sherlock Holmes Investigates by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I was very excited to find a copy of Sherlock Holmes Investigates by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which had been illustrated by Sidney Paget. The stories are wonderful and the reproductions of the original illustrations added another layer of happiness to my reading.

The collection began with an excerpt from A Study in Scarlet which tells the story of how Dr Watson met Sherlock Holmes. At the time Dr Watson had only recently returned to England after being wounded in the Afghan War and needed to find somewhere to live when a mutual friend introduced the pair to each other as potential flat mates.

The next story, The Man With the Twisted Lip was new to me. Dr Watson had a patient who was addicted to opium and at the request of the man’s wife, retrieved him from a notorious opium den only to be accosted by an old man, who turned out to be Sherlock Holmes in disguise. The detective was on trail of a rich man who had gone missing, presumably into the Thames River by way of the opium den. All the clues are in the story for the reader to figure out what happened, but I needed Sherlock Holmes to explain it all to me (as did Dr Watson).

The Speckled Band is the story of a murder caused by greed. I’m happy to say that while I didn’t figure out exactly how the murdered committed the crime, I cam close to guessing correctly!

I thoroughly enjoyed The Red-Headed League which featured criminals and a victim with flame-red hair. In this case, the victim actually enjoyed a financial gain as a result of a crime against him and a bank.

The Engineer’s Thumb told of a poor young engineer who took on a job to repair a mysterious piece of machinery. The engineer did not expect to have his thumb amputated in a gruesome incident during his employment.

The Reigate Squires started out with Sherlock Holmes recovering from illness and exhaustion that had been brought on during another case and ended with him almost being murdered. Luckily, Dr Watson was nearby to save Holmes and to tell the story.

The last story was The Blue Carbuncle, a horrible but apt name for a diamond so valuable that had been the cause of murders, robberies, a suicide and numerous other crimes. When the diamond was stolen Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson were in the right place at the right time to find and return the diamond to its rightful owner.

I enjoy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing style. Dr Watson is a descriptive and interesting narrator who describes what he sees and then later, what Sherlock Holmes saw in the same scenario. Dr Watson inserts some of his personality into the stories but Sherlock Holmes is always the star. I was amused by Dr Watson’s ability to leave his patients to their own devices while he did more interesting things with Sherlock Holmes and can’t imagine a doctor in this day and age having the same freedom.

I’m already looking forward to my next adventures with Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes.

The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle


The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is really two stories, loosely linked by several characters. The first story regards the murder which occurs in a moated manor house in a quiet country area in England.

Sherlock Holmes does his usual thing and investigates and solves the mystery surrounding this murder, with the assistance of Dr Watson. To be completely honest, there wasn’t much to this part of the story at all. I guessed at how it all happened and was fairly close to working it out without Sherlock having to tell me. My powers of deduction obviously work.

The second story is set in the American mining town where the owner of the English manor previously lived. The Valley of Fear is an apt name for the mining town and surrounding area which was ruled by a wicked set of men known as Scowrers, who become rich and powerful through blackmail, violence and murder. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson do not feature at all in this story, which precedes the English murder.

I found this part of the story fascinating. The Scowrers, who call themselves Freemasons, are merciless and the control they had over The Valley of Fear is almost total. Again, I guessed at how it would all unfold and my deductions were correct, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of the story at all.

If you are looking for a Sherlock Holmes story where you will be too terrified to sleep, read The Hound of the Baskervilles instead of The Valley of Fear. But if you enjoy Sherlock Holmes at work, read the story and as for the prequel, or whatever the American bit of this book is called, take it as an enjoyable bonus.

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