Who doesn’t know about Sherlock Holmes, the timeless detective and one of the most well-known fictional characters? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is considered the pioneer of detective fiction for writing such amazing stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. This fictional detective is so prominent that it has made a Guinness World Record as the most portrayed literary human character in film & TV.
So, I had to read the novels of Sherlock Holmes, and I finished reading these just a few days ago. There are only four novels- A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Valley of Fear. However, there are many short stories of Sherlock Holmes which I haven’t read and am planning to read.
The novels are gripping, thrilling, full of suspense, and magnificent. If I had a strong vocabulary, I would have properly explained how the stories of Sherlock Holmes are! Anyway, I thought if I write a blog sharing my experiences of reading the stories, maybe it will help those who want to read it but are not sure whether they should.
So, today I will talk about the novels of Sherlock Holmes. First, I will talk about each of the books, one by one. And then I will tell you why you should read them.
The 4 Novels of Sherlock Holmes
Here I have shared a short review of each of the Sherlock Holmes novels-
1. A Study in Scarlet- 1st Sherlock Holmes Novel
This novel was published in the year 1887, and it marked the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes, who would later become the most iconic fictional detective on earth.
The story begins from the time when Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes come to live together in 221B Baker Street, London. Then there is a murder in the city. A dead body is lying in an empty room with no physical wound, but there are blood marks on the floor. The word ‘rache’ (In German, rache means Revenge) is written in blood on the wall. And a wedding ring is found with the dead body. This mysterious puzzle is what they encounter, and the story will tell you how they solved it.
The story is divided into two parts, the first part is about the investigation, and the second part is about the history of the case. Watson narrates the story; in fact, all four novels are narrated by Watson. And this first novel is a short read written in only 130 pages.
When I was reading this, I was very much puzzled initially, but as the ending came near, everything got smoothly connected. The things which were confusing before, seemed to be an obvious fact. Well, that’s how it feels when you read good detective fiction. In short, I found the story to be fascinating.
2. The Sign of the Four- 2nd Sherlock Holmes Novel
The second novel was published in the year 1890. The story begins when a young lady comes to tell her strange and unusual case. She says that her father was an officer in India who took leave and returned to London to meet her. When he came to London, her daughter was about to meet her, but the same day he went missing. The lady couldn’t find where he went, even after consulting the police.
All these happened ten years ago. And after four years of his father going missing; there was an ad in the newspaper asking her address. When she gave her address, she was delivered an extremely costly pearl every year for the last six years (Strange, is it not??). So that’s why she consulted Sherlock Holmes to unravel this singular case, and that’s how the story begins.
The story is set in London and India, and it is the only novel out of the four which shows some romance between Watson and her to-be wife. It is the shortest of the four novels, which is written in just 120 pages. And in this novel, Holmes shows how thinking like a criminal makes a complex case easy to solve.
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four
You will find it adventurous and enjoyable (all the novels are adventurous and enjoyable )
3. The Hound of the Baskervilles- 3rd Sherlock Holmes Novel
The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third novel, considered one of the finest detective fiction ever written. This was published in 1902. The story begins from the scene when a young man named James Mortimer consults Holmes upon a supernatural case. His friend named Charles Baskerville, was found dead outside his manor. The death occurred around 10 o’clock in the night.
Mortimer tells Holmes that the death was reported to be because of a heart attack, but there was a footmark of a gigantic hound beside the dead body. And sir Charles had the expression of horror on his face. Mortimer then says that a curse runs on the Baskerville family; a gigantic hound kills every Baskerville who goes out of the house in the night. People living near Baskervilles are afraid of the hound because it has taken many lives.
So, Holmes and Watson then began their work to unravel the mystery, which went deep and deep. The puzzling and complex case mixed with supernatural things makes it thrilling and exciting. This novel is considered the best of all the Sherlock Holmes stories, and as I said, it is said to be one of the best detective fiction ever written.
4. The Valley of Fear- 4th Sherlock Holmes Novel
The Valley of Fear is the fourth and final novel of Sherlock Holmes, which was published in 1915. The story begins with Holmes receiving a coded note from one of his networks, which he deciphers, and then finds that a man named John Douglas is in danger. Just a few minutes after this, a police inspector comes to meet Holmes, telling him that there is a strange murder of a person named John Douglas the night before.
And then Holmes takes the case and begins the investigation. The murder is strange. Douglas is shot in the face, and his head is blown to pieces. There is a shotgun lying in the room, only his wedding ring is missing out of the three rings, the murderer has left behind a card saying V.V.-341, and there is a mark of boot on the window. These are some of the clues, and that’s how the story begins.
This story of Sherlock Holmes-like, A Study in Scarlet, is written in two parts. The second part will take you to the past, to a mining city in the US, which will explain the first part of the story. The novel has strong characters, and the mystery and suspense will keep you hooked to it. This fantastic last novel made me sad because it’s is the last novel of Sherlock Holmes. However, I am happy that there are short stories of Sherlock Holmes which I haven’t read. So, I am excited for them.
The language of all of these novels is easy, and you would be able to read it even if you are a beginner. All four novels are narrated by Watson, and once you read them, you will fall in love with the excellent narrative ability of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Also, there are some great dialogues in the stories, which further enhances the reading experience. Here are some of my favorites-
“To a great mind, nothing is little.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet
“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear
“What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence. The question is what can you make people believe you have done.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet
“No: I am not tired. I have a curious constitution. I never remember feeling tired by work, though idleness exhausts me completely.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four
These novels made me fall more in love with reading books. Throughout the reading period, I was happy and excited to find out what was going to happen next. When I woke up in the morning, I was delighted to know that I was going to read Sherlock Holmes. I had some problems in my life, but Sherlock Holmes enabled me to forget all my worries and go back to the 1890s and solve mysteries.
The stories are a must-read for everyone because, apart from being a great source of enjoyment, they can help you increase your power of observation. The character of Sherlock Holmes would inspire you to be sharp, analytic, and intelligent. You would also get inspired to be more confident in life and solve problems in the smartest way possible. Man! If you learn the art of thinking like Sherlock Holmes, then you will be the master of a great superpower.
Now, I don’t want to talk more about why you should read the novels; otherwise, it will be a lengthy article. I will say that the novels of Sherlock Holmes can be one of the most interesting as well as inspiring fiction you will ever read.
So, what are you waiting for??? Go and grab the novels!