On the whole, this is a really good collection. I like the stories more than the novels because they are much more satisfying puzzleboxes than the novels seem to be. In part, because the novels have to be grandiose to justify their length, but often the mysteries themselves are no more strong than in the shorter stories. Maybe that’s why there’s 56 stories and only four novels.
In this collection, we have the following stories, for which I will do a few capsule reviews.
“A Scandal in Bohemia” – Apparently, this is the only appearance of Irene Adler, but when you make a movie version you gotta have someone for Holmes to want to hook up with, and since he tells us that she wins his greatest admiration, it’s got to be her. In this story, there’s not even a crime, but the puzzles themselves are quite satisfying.
“The Red-Headed League” – Easily my favorite of the collection, it’s central scheme is so funny and goofy and weird, it’s great.
“A Case of Identity” – A little forgettable.
“The Boscombe Valley Mystery” – A little forgettable.
“The Five Orange Pips” – This one is funny to me as an American because the mystery just isn’t a mystery. So thinking about it as a piece of history is important to see how interesting the reputation of the central figures are is fascinating. But Doyle definitely exposes himself as not understanding how endemic racism affects American institutions.
“The Man with a Twisted Lip” – Also not a crime, but a satisfying puzzle.
“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” – A fun, small puzzlebox.
“The Adventure of the Speckled Band” – Probably the second most famous story. It’s a great little puzzle, but another teacher immediately spoiled it when I mentioned I was reading Sherlock Holmes.
“The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb” – This one sent me to Wikipedia.
“The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor” – This one shows Sherlock being his most sympathetic self.
“The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet” – A family drama.
“The Adventure of the Copper Breeches” – Great title, weird story.
Overall, this is a strong collection and a great addition to the canon. I am excited for a break from Holmes and to return later for more.