Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1

  • By: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Pub. Date: September 2003

  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble

  • Format: Paperback , 752pp  

  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series

  • ISBN-13: 9781593080341

  • ISBN: 1593080344

  • Source: Personal Copy

  • Synopsis:

    The Complete Sherlock Holmes comprises four novels and fifty-six short stories revolving around the world’s most popular and influential fictional detective—the eccentric, arrogant, and ingenious Sherlock Holmes. He and his trusted friend, Dr. Watson, step from Holmes’s comfortable quarters at 221b Baker Street into the swirling fog of Victorian London to exercise that unique combination of detailed observation, vast knowledge, and brilliant deduction. Inevitably, Holmes rescues the innocent, confounds the guilty, and solves the most perplexing puzzles known to literature.

    My Review:

    After two weeks, I finally finished volume 1 of the Sherlock Holmes! I don't know why it took me so long to read this book, especially since I read for quite a few hours this past Saturday, for Dewey's 24 hour readathon. I know part of it is that I now have a part-time job and school is picking up in my time requirements for studying. However, the Sherlock Holmes stories were fun and I still think I should have been able to read it quicker.

    Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed this volume of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work. I picked the Barnes & Noble edition because it contains all of the Holmes stories, in order of publication, within just two volumes. I didn't want to buy just a single copy of one of the novels, find out that I liked the stories, and then have to buy several different books to get all of the stories. Plus, since Holmes often references past cases, I think it's worthwhile to read them in order.

    This first volume included three short novels and 23 short stories. I'm not going to summarize each story, especially since I would probably give away the ending to some of them, but rather give my overall impressions. I became particularly interested in Sherlock Holmes after seeing the movie featuring Robert Downey, Jr (I highly recommend this movie, especially since there is a sequel coming out later this year!). It was interesting to see the backstory for both Watson and Holmes in the first novel of the collection, A Study in Scarlet. It provided some context for both their personal lives and how their relationship came together.

    I enjoyed the novels more than the short stories, but that is also just my personal preference since I generally like longer novels more than anything else. There is more background and twists and turns in a novel than in a 15 page short story. I was able to guess the ending to some of the short stories, but not all. I highly enjoyed Sherlock Holmes deductions when he would denounce the guilty party and explain his logical reasoning. However, although Holmes was a great character to follow, I'm glad the readers view is through Watson's eyes since he can give us an account of Holmes deductions and also be a reliable narrator that will tell us everything else that is going on. I think if we were in Sherlock Holme's head, the reader would become extremely confused since I doubt many could follow Holme's thoughts when he is 'on the scent.'

    Overall, I found the Sherlock Holmes stories really entertaining and I'm glad Sir Arthur Conan Doyle continued to write them, even after he got sick of them and killed off Holmes :) I'm looking forward to the second volume of the stories. I recommend these stories for anyone looking for some fun, and rather quick mysteries. Some stories are not appropriate for children because some of the murders are a little grizzly and there is also some drug use by Sherlock Holmes.

    My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


    1. New from the author of Sherlock Holmes And The Dead Boer At Scotney Castle (MX Publishing 2012)

      Sherlock Holmes And The Case of the Bulgarian Codex

      It's the year 1900. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson receive an urgent commission from the Prince Regnant of Bulgaria to come to Sofia. The Codex Zographensis, the most ancient and most sacred manuscript in the Old Bulgarian language has been stolen. Its disappearance could lead to the outbreak of war between Russia, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire…
      What follows is a story of duplicity, murder, vampires and greed for vast estates in Bulgaria and Hungary, with the fate of millions in Sherlock Holmes's hands.

      Although the events in Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of The Bulgarian Codex are fictional, the principal character Prince Ferdinand is based closely on one of the most compelling personalities in world history, the real Prince Regnant, later Tsar, who ruled Bulgaria from 1887 until his forcible abdication in 1918.

      The Balkans loom…

      SNORTING and champing at the bit like a high-strung warhorse, the Orient Express stayed its departure from the Gare de Strasbourg while Sherlock Holmes and I flung ourselves from a five-glass landau and clambered into the private cars of the Prince Regnant of Bulgaria. Our boxes tumbled in behind us. It was late on a Friday afternoon in April, in the year 1900. With a minatory scream the immense train pulled away on its long journey to Stamboul. Soon Paris was left behind. Without noise or jerk we were going fifty miles per hour without seeming to move. The case of the Bulgarian Codex had commenced.

      and kindle reader link at

      Britain’s former Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind emailed the author, ‘Dear Tim Symonds, just to say that I have just finished reading The Dead Boer at Scotney Castle. I greatly enjoyed it and found it a great yarn! It kept one guessing right to the end which all good crime novels should do. Sherlock Holmes (and Conan Doyle) would have been impressed!’

    2. In his later years Albert Einstein came to be considered a secular saint for proclamations like "Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice, I can help in the greatest of all causes - goodwill among men and peace on earth." His younger years were different.

      Three years ago I published a research paper on the real-life mystery of Einstein's illegitimate daughter titled 'A Vital Detail In The Story of Albert Einstein' ( Now my 'Fourth Theory' on her fate forms the basis of the new Sherlock Holmes novel -

      Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery of Einstein's Daughter

      In late 1903 Albert Einstein's illegitimate daughter 'Lieserl' disappears without trace in Serbia aged around 21 months. As Holmes exclaims in 'the Mystery of Einstein's Daughter', ‘the most ruthless effort has been made by public officials, priests, monks, friends, relatives and relatives by marriage to seek out and destroy every document with Lieserl’s name on it. The question is – why?’

      ‘Lieserl’s fate shadows the Einstein legend like some unsolved equation’ Frederic Golden Time Magazine

      Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery of Einstein's Daughter is available at (re. review copies contact Steve Emecz at or

      Tim Symonds was born in London. He grew up in Somerset, Dorset and Guernsey. After several years working in the Kenya Highlands and along the Zambezi River he emigrated to the United States. He studied in Germany at Göttingen and at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Political Science. Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery Of Einstein’s Daughter was written in a converted oast house near Rudyard Kipling’s old home Bateman’s in Sussex and in the forests and hidden valleys of the Sussex High Weald.
      The author’s other detective novels include Sherlock Holmes and The Dead Boer at Scotney Castle and Sherlock Holmes and The Case of the Bulgarian Codex.
      He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

    3. Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Bulgarian Codex
      By Tim Symonds

      Book Review by Xanthe Mallett
      (2012) J. JURIS 587
      University of New England
      Armidale, Australia

      A new Sherlock Holmes novel has a lot to live up to. And frankly, I was
      not hopeful for this offering. As an avid Arthur Conan Doyle – and Holmes
      – fan, I was sceptical that anyone could match Conan Doyle’s intellect
      whilst matching his fast-paced and gripping style. I was wrong. Symonds'
      story could be described as a gripping yarn which captured the essence of
      both Holmes and Watson very well.

      The story in short: Holmes and his faithful sidekick Watson are contacted by the
      mysterious and duplicitous Prince Regnant of Bulgaria, following the apparent theft
      of an ancient and sacred manuscript. Holmes is tasked with finding the
      manuscript, and by extension preventing the outbreak of War. The lives of millions are in his

      So, plot set, the trusty duo set off for Bulgaria, travelling on the Orient Express through beautifully
      described landscapes. As one would expect, the story is not as simple as it at
      first appears, and what follows is a tale of murder, greed, and vampires.
      There are the requisite unexpected twists and turns. A tale worthy of
      Holmes any day.

      So, although I expected to be disappointed, I was not. The language
      Tim Symonds employs is reminiscent of Conan Doyle, and really transports the
      reader on the journey. If I were to offer some small criticism, it would be
      that it feels as if the author is trying too hard to link the story to the earlier
      texts. But that would be all. And by halfway through this feeling is
      forgotten, as is the fact that this is not one of Conan Doyle’s original
      offerings – so good is the dialogue and storytelling.

      A good test for me is, when you turn the last page, how do you feel? Glad
      or disappointed? I was definitely disappointed, as I was enjoying it so much
      I didn’t want it to end.