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Friday, May 20, 2016

Favorite, Best, Strongest - and Their Opposites

Last week’s meeting of the Illustrious Clients, the Indianapolis scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars, featured a new activity: Member Meredith Granger asked several other of us members of name their favorite and least favorite Sherlock Holmes stories, as well as their opinion as to the best, worst, strongest, and weakest.


Here are my selections, with the reasons:



“His Last Bow”

  • Strong beginning and ending paragraphs
  • Beautifully written throughout
  • Touching relationship between Holmes and Watson
  • A view of Holmes and Watson post-retirement, far from 1895  


“The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone”

  • Count Sylvius and Sam Merton are the weakest villains in the Canon
  • The plot gimmick just doesn’t work
  • One of the few stories without even a few memorable lines
  • Only positives: the presence of Billy the page, and the thumb in the nose of Lord Cantlemere at the end 


The Hound of the Baskervilles

  • “A real creeper,” in the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Also a strong detective story, with clues, red herrings, and surprise killer
  • We never tire of re-reading it 


“The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone” – see above



“The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans”

  • Strong opening and closing lines
  • Mycroft and Lestrade
    • – because it’s both a spy story and a detective story
  • Great dialogue
  • Highest possible stakes
  • Holmes commits burglary, as usual 


“The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger” – in which Holmes does nothing


 Now, what do you think?

1 comment:

  1. This is a nice idea!

    I like so many Sherlock Holmes stories that it's a bit difficult to put my finger on one or two.


    My favourite Sherlock Holmes story is 'The Devil's Foot'. It's got that crazy, shocking, unbelievable vibe that shook me as a child and I haven't ever recovered. That scene where three people are playing cards and one of them just dies and the others go mad - it's etched in my memory. :-)

    The best Sherlock Holmes story in my opinion is 'The Abbey Grange.' I like it because of how Sherlock Holmes completely fails in the beginning, behaves like a fallible human being, falls prey to prejudices and then comes right back. Also, the deductions are superb.

    Strongest Story: Thor Bridge. It has a mind-blowing twist. It has superb Sherlockian deductions. Plus it is one of those stories where Sherlock Holmes conducts a real-life experiment to test his hypothesis. I'd say it has everything you'd want in a Sherlock Holmes story.

    Worst story and least favourite: The Dying Detective. Yes, there is a plan that Holmes executes well - but I sorely missed the thrill of an investigation. I agree there was a plot but I just didn't like the execution with the bulk of the story having Holmes acting like he was dying.

    Weakest Story: The Mazarin Stone. The plot doesn't exactly involve a lot of Holmes' powers. It's like a dramatic scene from a movie. Character strength is sorely missing in the villains.