Short Story Review: The Adventure of The Copper Beeches by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventure of the Copper Beeches is the twelfth and final short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Summary (from Goodreads)

When a young governess, unemployed and desperate for a position, accepts a job with a couple living in a remote country home, her positive first impressions of the man and his family begin to change. With a mixture of fear and uncertainty, she asks Sherlock Holmes to investigate the increasingly disturbing events that have begun to unfold around her.

Favourite Quote 

I couldn’t chose between these two:

“Crime is common.  Logic is rare.  Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”

*

“Data! Data!  Data!” he cried impatiently.  “I can’t make bricks without clay.”

Review

This was one of the more exciting stories in the collection, with a bit more action and drama in it than some of the previous stories.  Violet Hunter, the governess, is an interesting character: strong and sensible, which coupled with the mystery at The Copper Beeches made for a very enjoyable read.  There is quite a lot going on in this little story, ensuring that the pace is fast and the storyline engaging.

This is one of my favourites from The Adventures, which I think is due to the very Victorian Gothic feel to the story…Highly recommended!

Rating

 

 

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Short Story Review: The Adventure of The Beryl Coronet by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet is the eleventh story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Summary

A strange looking man appears at Baker Street in a state, in desperate need of the help of Sherlock Holmes.  His name is Alexander Holder,and he’s a banker.  The day before he had received a visit from “one of the highest, noble names in England.”  The noble wanted an advance of £50,000 for the duration of a week.  The security he puts up for such a large sum is the Beryl Coronet, one of the greatest treasures in the empire.

Holder decides he cannot leave such a valuable item in the office so takes it home, but some time in the night, the house is burgled, the Coronet goes missing and suspicion falls squarely on Holder’s son.

Favourite Quote

It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

Review

I found this short story to be interesting and enjoyable.  Holmes takes the information that he is given and, coupled, with facts that he accumulates himself – such as the study of footprints in the snow – proves that not only is the obvious suspect not the guilty party but finds who is really behind the crime (in much the same way as he does in The Boscombe Valley Mystery).

What I’ve noticed that I like about these Sherlock Holmes stories is that just because Holmes can uncover the truth it doesn’t always have to have a neat and tidy ending where the crime / mystery is solved and punishment is duly meted out.  Villains can still escape, and that makes these stories a lot more like real-life.

Rating

 

Short Story Review: The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor is the tenth story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Summary

Lord Robert St. Simon seeks Sherlock Holmes’ help in the disappearance of his wife, Hatty Doran, on their wedding day.  It is after the wedding, at the reception, when she goes missing.  Just prior to the wedding breakfast, a disturbance is caused by a woman who says she has a claim upon Lord St. Simon.  The matter appears to be dealt with, but the bride leaves early and retires to her room.  And yet, she is almost immediately seen leaving the house, after which no-one sees her again.

What has happened to her?  Where has she gone?  And most importantly, why did she leave in the first place?

Favourite Quote

Still, jealousy is a strange transformer of characters.

Review

An interesting, if not the most memorable story in the collection.  The story centres around a fairly common practice of the time: English noble strapped for cash marries wealthy American in search of title.  Of course, this isn’t a love match, but neither does anyone expect the bride to disappear right after the ceremony.

One of the entertaining highlights of the story is the verbal sparring between Lestrade and Holmes.  On the one hand the Scotland Yard detective’s assumption sounds reasonable, even logical, but Sherlock is quick to point out the error of his ways.

There are enough clues littered throughout the story for the reader to figure this mystery out (which I did) before the answer is revealed, which is half the fun.

Rating

Short Story Review: The Adventures of the Engineer’s Thumb by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventure of The Engineer’s Thumb is the ninth story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Summary

An injured man finds his way to Dr Watson’s surgery.  His thumb has been cut off.  Dr Watson, as he is treating him, asks how the rather strange injury came about.  When the man, Mr Hatherley, replies, he suggests they go and speak to Sherlock Holmes.  They soon learn that Mr Hatherley was engaged by a strange man to go and fix a hydraulic stamping machine somewhere in the middle of the English countryside.  He is to be paid well for his efforts, but things are not quite right.  Why is the commission top secret?  And why does a woman try to persuade him to leave as soon as he arrives?  Sherlock Holmes after hearing the bizarre story, naturally takes the case to find out these answers and more.

Favourite Quote

Sherlock Holmes was, as I expected, lounging about his sitting-room in his dressing-gown, reading the agony column of The Times and smoking his before-breakfast pipe, which was composed of all the plugs and dottles left from his smokes of the day before, all carefully dried and collected on the corner of the mantelpiece.

Review

Another riveting Sherlock Holmes mystery.  This is another one that I couldn’t quite crack, though there are plenty of clues along the way.

There is a lot more drama in this story that the other ones I have so far read, in my opinion.  And reading of the close call Mr Hatherley has whilst he is at the isolated house raises the tension a lot.  It’s also a little more gory than the other short stories thanks to the passage where Dr Watson is treating the damaged hand of Mr Hatherley.

A great story, and a interesting read.

Rating

Short Story Review: The Adventure of The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventure of The Speckled Band in the eighth short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Summary

Helen Stoner goes to visit Sherlock Holmes as she fears her life is in danger.  She believes her stepfather, Dr Roylott might try to kill her, as her sister died in strange circumstances two years previously, shortly before she was to be married.  Now Helen is to be married, she is scared of suffering the same fate. Since her sister’s death, her final words, spoken in terror, have haunted Helen, “The speckled band!”  But she has not been able to work out what they mean.  The question is, can Sherlock Holmes, before Dr Roylott is able to do away with his remaining step-daughter?

Favourite Quote

I had no keener pleasure than in following Holmes in his professional investigations, and in admiring the rapid deductions, as swift as intuitions, and yet always founded on a logical basis with which he unravelled the problems which were submitted to him.

Review

This was a great little mystery and so very imaginative.  There are so many clues and red herrings littered throughout the story that you find it difficult to pinpoint the truth of the matter, until of course, everything falls neatly into place.

The Adventure of The Speckled Band is one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes mysteries.  It has everything a late Victorian story should; exotic wild animals that are free to roam, a suspect band of gypsies who keep company with the guilty party, and a damsel in distress at the mercy of her strange and greedy stepfather.  Fabulous stuff!  It kept me guessing until the very end.

Rating

4.5 / 5

Short Story Review: The New Catacomb by Arthur Conan Doyle

Summary

Two archaeologists are in Rome where one of them, Burger, has discovered a new catacomb.  Naturally, he wants to keep it a secret until he’s been able to study it and write his own report on his findings before the word spreads.  However, his friend, Kennedy, wishes to hear of the discovery, and so they come to an agreement: Burger will share with him what he’s found, if Kennedy will honestly answer any question put to him.  But where will such a bargain lead?

Favourite Quote

“You know we look upon a man who kisses and tells as the greatest coward and villain possible.”

Review

This was my Halloween Read for 2017.  I hadn’t heard of it before seeing a social media post recommending it as a good Halloween read.  So, of course, I thought I would give it a try.

The New Catacomb fell short of the mark as a spooky Halloween read.  Yes, it was atmospheric but I could guess what was going on long before the reveal.  That being said, the characters were well-crafted, the story was interesting and imaginative.  It was definitely worth a read.

I think I would have enjoyed this short story more if I hadn’t read it as a Halloween Read, so I can imagine that I will return to re-read it at a later date.

Rating

Short Story Review: The Man with the Twisted Lip by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Man with the Twisted Lip is the sixth short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Holmes discovers Dr. Watson in the black shadows of a smoke-filled opium den in the basement of the very house where Holmes is investigating his latest murder case! But of course the good doctor is only there to hunt down the drug-addicted husband of his wife’s dear, but distraught, friend. Sound confusing? For all but The Great Detective, it probably is. And we haven’t even talked about the murder yet!

Favourite Quote

“…but it is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn it at all.”

Review

The Man with the Twisted Lip was an engaging little puzzle, though perhaps the most interesting part of it was the insight into opium use and drug dens during the Victorian period.

This instalment felt more of a meandering mystery than the other stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes so far.  We start in one place, with one mystery and end up somewhere else entirely, but it is entertaining to read how the story moves along.  An entertaining opening with a great twist at the end.

And, I solved the mystery before the reveal, which I am always pleased about.  Out of the six short stories I have read from this collection to date, this one ranks in the top half of the ratings table.

Rating

3.5 / 5