Et Cetera

The Words & Writings of Sean Richmond

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes, the world's first and foremost consulting detective, is a legend. His adventures with his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson have enchanted readers for generations, and have inspired countless authors to take part in the craft and pen their own mystery novels. Holmes is in a league of his own, but in that case why are his Memoirs a little disappointing?

I love Sherlock Holmes stories, though for some reason up until very recently I have never actually read the source material. I've seen many adaptations, and for years now I've loved getting in my car at 1 pm (sharp!) to listen to the Jim French Production's "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," a series of radio plays that adapted the multitude of Holmes short stories into half-hour dramas. If you ever have a chance to listen to them, please do, they're extremely well done.

Lately, I've enjoyed the Robert Downey, Jr. depictions on the big screen, and far more I have enjoyed the BBC's "Sherlock" series starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the modern day consulting detective. This series is one of my favorite things on any television right now, and I highly, highly recommend tracking that down at your first opportunity.

Excuse me, I am veering from the point. As I was saying, it is not until recently that I decided to go and read the source material for myself. Last year I read a Study in Scarlet, which I hugely enjoyed, and the Sign of the Four, which I enjoyed despite the fact that it took me several months to actually finish. Now, after I finished reading Thirteen, I found The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes on Audible, and grabbed up the first two volumes.

So far, the narration is well done (even if I do wish they had gotten the exceptional actor who plays him in the Jim French versions), and the stories are entertaining. Comparing the audio and book versions that I've read, so far the stories are actually more enjoyable in the audio format. You can almost see the mysteries play out in front of you.

My biggest complaint with Memoirs is that for the most part, Sherlock does very little in them. In several stories he is either a narrator recalling an early case, or an observer as someone else spins a tale for him to then comment on. A desperate client will come to the fabled detective, spin his own tale, and things will have already been settled.

Needless to say, for the most part Sherlock is not at his most exciting. The exception here is in "The Final Problem," one of the most famous of the Sherlock canon, wherein we are introduced to one of the most famous villains in literature, Professor Moriarty. This story somewhat makes up for the rest; it is well written, exciting, and seeing the duo of Holmes & Watson on the run from Moriarty and his vicious gang of miscreants is a nice change of pace.

Unfortunately, these seem to be the least interesting of the Holmes canon that I've read so far, the stories just acting as backdrops for completely different stories that don't involve Holmes or Watson at all. Doyle's desire to write something other than Holmes seems to become rather obvious over the course of these stories, culminating in his attempt to end the series once and for all.

Instead of rating the book with a single score, here is a rating for each of the stories contained within:

  • "Silver Blaze" Rating: 6/10
  • "The Adventure of the Yellow Face" Rating: 6/10
  • "The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk" Rating: 5/10
  • "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" Rating: 6/10
  • "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual" Rating: 6/10
  • "The Adventure of the Reigate Squire" Rating: 7/10
  • "The Adventure of the Crooked Man" Rating: 6/10
  • "The Adventure of the Resident Patient" Rating: 6/10
  • "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter" Rating: 7/10
  • "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty" Rating: 7/10
  • "The Final Problem" Rating: 8/10

Audible Edition Rating: 8/10