This post contains minor spoilers for Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is the Sherlock Holmes book I’ve been waiting for. If you read my post on The Sign of the Four, you probably gathered that I didn’t much care for it. But with Memoirs, the tables have completely turned. Along with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Memoirs is a collection of short stories, and I believe that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing style works better in shorter format as opposed to the short novels of A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four.
What really struck me about Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes was that, by chance, it directly addressed some of the topics I discussed about The Sign of the Four. In my earlier review, I discussed how interesting it was to see Holmes make a mistake. In The Sign of the Four, Holmes merely thought a dog was leading him along the right scent. But as Watson notes in the beginning of Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes’s “The Yellow Face,” it was the first time Holmes was entirely wrong about an outcome – and it was great to see someone like Holmes actually trip up.
In The Sign of the Four, I also noted the increased character development for Holmes, which only continues in Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Having him make a mistake certainly adds to this, but what was fantastic about Memoirs is first that its story “The Greek Interpreter” introduces Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft, whom Sherlock describes as even more astute than himself, creating an odd scenario for the younger Holmes, who is, for once, outmatched.
But that’s not all the outmatching for Sherlock Holmes in Memoirs – for it also introduces the enigmatic Professor Moriarty.
I first started reading Sherlock Holmes stories last summer, and I vaguely knew that there was some Moriarty involved. After reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I watched the first season BBC’s Sherlock (a modern day retelling of the Sherlock Holmes stories), and it emphasized the mystery of this Moriarty, which left me wondering when on earth this apparently legendary foil to Holmes would appear in the stories. Well, he shows up – right at the end of Memoires of Sherlock Holmes in the story “The Final Problem.” It’s a brief appearance, but it’s a powerful one. I see why Moriarty became the stuff of legend: he’s the only force that seems to put Holmes even slightly on edge. And the ending of “The Final Problem”? Let’s say I’m grateful I wasn’t spoiled on this one.
Now that I’m done with Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes,I will proceed immediately to The Hound of the Baskervilles and write about it for The Classics Club. But after that, I’m going to read Sherlock Holmes stories purely for fun.
If you’ve read some of the Sherlock Holmes books, where does Memoirs of Sherlock Homes rank for you? Do you prefer the Holmes novels or short story collections?
This was the Book #2 off my Classics Club list. To see the rest of it, click here.