Reading the real deal

Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection
by Arthur Conan DoyleStephen Fry (Narrator)

A Study in Scarlet 
The very first Sherlock Holmes story. John Watson meets Sherlock Holmes. The mystery wasn‘t terribly exciting. Two Americans turn up dead. Obviously there is a back story. Utah, Mormons, romance… ★★★½☆

The Sign of the Four 
The sequel. Holmes & Watson meet Mary Morstan. And Toby, the dog with the supernose. The backstory takes us to the Andaman islands. I have read this one several times and so far it is my favourite.

I still astonishes me how (relatively) human and social Holmes comes across in the original. TV has a lot to be answered for.

This audiobook monster is narrated by the adorable Stephen Fry, who did his usual stellar job. Some interesting forewords are included.

More reviews to come, as I slowly progress through this audio.

The last time I read The Sign of the Four was in 2016. Here is what I had to say about it back then:

Re-reading a classic.

This is my favourite Holmes story. I was fascinated about the description of his drug use, when I read this first as a teenager.

With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks.

The plot is (mostly) fun. We meet Mary, Toby, Wiggins and get to read many immortal sentences from the Sherlock Holmes universe.

I know the plot so well that I find it hard to be critical about it. The only part I truly do not like, is Jonathan Small’s story. It drags and I find it a little boring. It’s too long and feels like an afterthought, that got stuck on to inflate the page count. 

And from today’s point of view Doyle’s description of Tonga comes across as pretty offensive. But this was published in 1890, so I can acknowledge that and live with it.

And even back then they wrote bad insta-love! It also struck me as strange during this re-read, how jovial Holmes is and how often he laughs. Should I blame the BBC for that?

8 thoughts on “Reading the real deal

  1. Yeah, the BBC’s Sherlock got Holmes wrong in a lot of ways. It’s a little frustrating. If you can, give the Granada Sherlock Holmes series a try. It stars Jeremy Brett as Holmes, and has always been what I think of first when it comes to Holmes adaptations.


    1. I‘ve watched the Jeremy Brett version many years ago, it was always one of my favourites. I don‘t think there are many adaptations that I haven‘t seen. I do like Cumberbatch as Sherlock. He’s just the most extreme outlier to the actual character, I guess.


      1. Brett was always my favorite Holmes. Cumberbatch’s Sherlock had his moments, but he was such an outlier, and was the one that everyone latched onto, so I wonder how much it has affected people’s view of the original stories.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I do want to go back and read/re-read all of the Holmes stories. I know I have read a lot of them, but not all, and I can never remember which ones I’m missing. (Though that tangent about Utah Mormons in A Study in Scarlet is just weird. I remember that much.)

    Agreed, though. Sherlock Holmes is such a part of cultural memory that I bet a lot of people haven’t ever read the originals (or even seen most of the shows) and yet they have a definite—and probably not quite accurate—picture of him in their heads.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This audio is an excellent reminder for me. I honestly don‘t know what I have actually read and what I just think I did, because I saw TV and movie adaptations so many times.

      TBH, besides wanting to re-read Holmes, I mostly picked this because it was free with my audible subscription and because it‘s narrated by Stephen Fry.


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