Thursday, November 19, 2009

More Sherlock Holmes Short Stories!

This week, the Wednesday supplement is being posted on Thursday. It's fun keeping you on your toes that way. That and I hadn't finished this week's eight stories until last night. As I'm sure you remember from last week, each review includes a brief summary of the story, followed by a few choice comments, and a rating from 1-5, with 1 being God awful, and 5 being His gift to Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts.

From Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb"

Synopsis—Watson is visited by a young engineer who has just lost his thumb in a terrible accident—or was it foul play? The two men take a trip to see Sherlock Holmes in the hopes of discovering exactly what this engineer has gotten himself into.
Comments—Eh. It wasn't terrible. I admit I had no idea what the final outcome was going to be, but it didn't blow me away.

"The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor"

Synopsis—A young Lord calls upon Sherlock Holmes and his faithful friend Watson when the Lord's new bride goes missing the day after their wedding. Could it have been a jealous ex-lover?
Comments—Skip this one. I saw it coming a mile away.

"The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet"

Synopsis—When a banker in possession of a priceless national heirloom is robbed in his own home, he enlists the aid of Sherlock Holmes to get back the missing jewels. The plot thickens, however, when all of the evidence points towards the man's own son!
Comments—There are enough twists and red herrings in "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet" to make it one of the better stories so far. I was never quite sure where it was going to end up, but didn't feel like it came out of nowhere, either.

"The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"

Synopsis—A young red-head (Doyle really likes red-heads, apparently) is hired as a country governess for a wealthy, if eccentric, family. As the family's quirky requests grow more and more outlandish, however, the woman decides to ask Sherlock Holmes for help in discovering what's really going on with them.
Comments—This one is just weird. You'd think Doyle would want to end the book with a bang, but this bizarre tale is lackluster at best. Also, I'd like to point out that for the entire first half of this story, I thought it was titled "The Adventure of the Copper Breeches" and had something to do with a special pair of pants...

From Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"Silver Blaze"

Synopsis—A famous racehorse goes missing, and the trainer is found dead in the moors outside the training grounds. Can Sherlock Holmes and his faithful friend Watson discover the whereabouts of the horse and reveal the identity of the killer before the Wessex Cup race?
Comments—Not a bad way to kick off the next book, I must say. "Silver Blaze" is the most original story of this bunch, and includes more forensic investigation than some of the others.

"The Yellow Face"

Synopsis—Sherlock Holmes is visited one day by a distraught young man whose wife seems to be hiding something. Could it possibly involve the couple's new neighbors, and the freakish yellow face that sometimes appears in an upstairs window?
Comments—This book is a little different, and breaks form more often than Adventures does. "The Yellow Face," for example, includes an introduction by Watson that states how, for once, Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his deductions. That little novelty doesn't make this story any better, though. The ending is slightly unexpected, but only in one minor detail. Boring.

"The Stock-Broker's Clerk"

Synopsis—A young stock-broker's clerk comes to Holmes' office hoping the detective will be able to shed some light on a strange work situation. The new position that the clerk has just been hired for seems too good to be true—and just may be!
Comments—Really now, Doyle, this again? "The Stock-Broker's Clerk" is basically the exact same story as "The Red-headed League." Strange new job, a little too good to be true, someone lying about their identity. Nice try. The only truly interesting thing about this story is that it begins with a little background into Watson's medical practice.

"The 'Gloria Scott'"

Synopsis—Sherlock Holmes' very first case! A friend of Holmes' from college enlists the young detective's aid when the man's father dies of horror after reading a simple note. Does the note have some hidden meaning? What could be so terrible as to scare a man full to death?
Comments—Another disappointment. Similar to the self-plagiarism of "The Stock-Broker's Clerk" of "The Red-headed League," "The 'Gloria Scott'" is pretty much the same story as "The Boscombe Valley Mystery." This story is even worse, though, because it's completely expository. All of the stories are told by Watson after the fact, but this one is told by Watson as told to him by Holmes, so at some point the dialogue goes three or four quotation marks deep. I had no idea who was speaking half the time.

So far Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is not nearly as good as Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but perhaps that will change. We shall see. Until next time, keep reading, Genoshans!

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