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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

October 1, 2010 4 comments

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve short stories published in 1892. I have read the five first ones and was so disappointed that I decided to stop reading it. I’m not abandoning it since I have it on my kindle and intend to read the other short stories at lost moments. It is a perfect distraction for a doctor or dentist waiting room, as it doesn’t require a lot of attention – I know, this isn’t the least positive. I’m not going to describe the plot of the different stories, it would be tedious and pointless.

Why such a disappointment? The first problem is in the pattern of the texts. Arthur Conan Doyle loses a lot of time in describing Watson’s fascination for Sherlock Holmes’ deducting skills and gives us useless contextual details about the cases. In other words, the introduction is too long compared to the length of the stories. That bothered me. I read this and I’m thinking “get to the point, please!”. Crime short stories should have a brief introduction, start the plot as soon as possible, develop it with striking synthetic sentences and bring smoothly the solution of the mystery.

 I was dissatisfied with the abrupt end of the first story A Scandal in Bohemia. The introduction led me to imagining a longer story and all of a sudden, it ends. Sherlock Holmes loses against Irene Adler and doesn’t fight back. But at least, this one gives hints on Holmes’ temper and mad observation skills. 

The worse occurred when I guessed what had happened in the third story, A Case of Identity. That really irritated me. When I read whodunit crime fiction, I want to be carried away, led in wrong directions and be astonished by the denouement. It ruins my pleasure if I figure it out before the last pages. I want Sherlock Holmes to be cleverer than me, or it’s no fun at all.

These are the reasons why I stopped reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, not so adventurous, by the way. The free kindle edition I downloaded doesn’t recognise the “£” sign and the accents in French words used by the author.  So you get a curious “�4’”instead of the “£” or “é”. I didn’t have difficulties to guess the correct words but it hurt the eyes a little.

I had read The Hound of the Baskervilles a long time ago and I remember I liked it. Maybe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was more gifted for novels than for short stories, which are a tricky genre. Though I found the stories a little thin and dull, I intend to find a French version because I know at least two children who may like reading this.

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