Wednesday, April 30, 2014

291. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous book The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (FP: 1892; 302) is one of those books that manage to surprise you regardless of how familiar you have become with their titles. The surprise with this book was not in the character or the story-line(s) but the genre. I had always perceived this book as a complete novel. This perception might have been strengthened by the various movie adaptations I have watched. Even when I purchased it, this did not change. So you can imagine my surprise when I finally picked it up to read and suddenly discovered that it is a collection of short stories.

The story features the eponymous character Sherlock Holmes as he solved one mystery after the other, sometimes aided by his friend Dr Watson, and it was he who narrated the stories. The eccentric Sherlock Holmes did not care much about the mysteries he solved but to any observing eyes what he did is nothing different from the art of Houdini. Sherlock has more than five well developed senses. His sixth sense - the sense of intuition, and the seventh - the sense of extreme logical reasoning, helped him unravel cases that on the surface seemed insurmountable but which proved obvious to the reader after the little available facts had passed through his acute mind. As a polymath, no mystery was too strange, too difficult, or beyond the powers of Sherlock's mind.

In this collection of 12 short stories, the young reader is likely to develop some affection for this eccentric man of whom his friend, Dr Watson, said 
The stage lost a fine actor, even as science lost an acute reasoner, when he became a specialist in crime. [20]
Sherlock Holmes is an embodiment of passion and knowledge. It is no wonder that he has come to represent more than just a character in history. This story reminded me of Alexander McCall Smith's The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency, a collection of short stories about how one woman set out to resolve problems. Even though one always knew Holmes would solve the mysteries, even when the evidence seems to be not available, one still wondered how it was going to be done. This is what makes Doyle's work interesting over a century after its publication. A book such as this is always recommended. It makes for light and fun-filled reading and could be squeezed between difficult books to cure the wooziness that accompanies reading such demanding books.

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