Recently I had the pleasure of receiving a letter that any Sherlockian would be delighted to get. My old friend Steve Giessler wrote by e-mail:
Dan,Oh, lucky friend! What a joy it would be read the Canon again for the very first time!
Believe it or not, I want to "dig" into the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I have never read any of the novels or short stories. Can you give me a suggested order to read that would chronologically make sense? Perhaps a better question may be what would you suggest? By the way I enjoyed the three Sebastian McCabe mysteries.
I sent Steve a list of all the books in the order published. On balance, I think that this is the best way to read them -- start at the beginning and keep going to the end. This way, the reader gets to learn about Holmes and Watson in exactly the same way that Arthur Conan Doyle did as he wrote.
But there are other valid approaches. So I sent Steve a link to an earlier blog post in which I wrote about an old dream of mine to produce a series of radio adaptations of canonical stories which would present the Holmes saga chronologically from "The 'Gloria Scott'" to "His Last Bow."
Another approach would be to start with someone 's favorite stories -- mine, for example. For your pleasure in agreeing or disagreeing with taste, here are my 10 favorite Sherlock Holmes stories, roughly but not rigidly in order of my affection for them:
The Hound of the Baskervilles
“His Last Bow”
“The Adventure of the Red-Headed League”
“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”
“The Adventure of Charles August Milverton”
“The Adventure of the Speckled Band”
“The Final Problem”
“The Adventure of the Empty House”
“A Scandal in Bohemia”
The Valley of Fear
About half of these are great detective stories, and the other half are great Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson stories -- tales that in some way illuminate the character or have a strong emotional appeal.
What are your favorite adventures of Sherlock Holmes?