Apr. 15th, 2017

redfiona99: (books)
Which is a collection of short stories written around the time of the Sherlock Holmes stories. (This edition has the picture of Holmes and Watson that I desperately hope they've given Peter Wingfield some money for because he's obviously the model for Holmes.)

The introduction by David Stuart Davies is particularly worth reading because it sets Holmes in context of other detective stories, in context of Conan Doyle's life and trying to explain the effect of the Holmes stories on modern detective stories.

There is a reason why most of these characters are less well remembered than Holmes but most of the stories are worth a read if you like your crime stories.

As to the short stories themselves, I've divided them somewhat roughly into three categories: the good, the bad and the ish.

The good:

The Purloined Letter - Which along with the other Dupin mysteries codified a lot of the detective tropes that were later used in the Holmes stories.

The Biter Bit - Which is Wilkie Collins doing fun character stuff, so I am always going to be in favour.

A Princess's Vengeance - A little slight but fun, with some neat touches.

The Absent-Minded Coterie - Pleasingly self-mocking with some very neat touches.

A Clever Capture - Which could actually be a minor Holmes, so closely does it stick to the formula.

The Stir Outside the Cafe Royal - Decidedly slight but I <3 the main character so.

The Duchess of Wiltshire's Diamonds - sneaky and fun and mostly makes me want to read more Simon Carne stories.

The Problem of Dressing Room A - is the detective a bit too good? Yes. Is it a bit too pat? Yes. Is it scientifically improbable? Yes. Is it still worth reading? Yes.

The Hundred-Thousand-Dollar Robbery - A bit of a different take on the detective, this one being more of a tracker, and I like it because I've not read anything like it before. If you have, you may not like it as much.

The Surrey Cattle Maiming Mystery - Another one where the reveal is a little too pat, but the writing of the sidekick is so much fun.

The Ghost At Massingham Mansions - Which is my favourite short story in the collection. It's detailed and fun and has a nice twist.

The bad:

The Stolen Cigar Case - Which is a Holmes spoof. And I like good Holmes spoofs. This is not one. Because most of the ticks it spoofs are Dupin's, not Holmes's.

Sexton Blake and the Time Killer - Too much going on. Any one of the three mysteries would make one good story. All three of them lead to over-convolution. (Yes, I know I am not the target audience.)

The ish:

The Swedish Match - where I like everything but the resolution which feels rushed. But the character stuff is marvellous.

The Secrets of the Black Brotherhood - Again, short-changes on the explanation of the how they catch him, which is always the most fun bit of the mystery.

The Episode of the Diamond Links - the twist is too obvious.

Nine Points of the Law - okay, confession time, I am not a big Raffles fan. It's really well written, and I should love everything about Raffles, I just don't quite dig it.

One Possessed - I am reasonably sure psychiatry doesn't work like this, not even Edwardian psychiatry. Some of the character details are marvellous, and I think Doctor Dollar would make a marvellous set of stories to adapt for TV, but ...

The Great Pearl Mystery - This is another one that short changes the explanation.

LibraryThing Suggestions: )

I have read the beginning of the Hentzau Affair, and my Mum has a stash of Holmesiana which may well contain some of the others.


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