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

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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

Short Story Review: The Five Orange Pips by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Five Orange Pips is the fifth short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Summary (from Goodreads)

A tale of mystery, scandal and murder that may have been committed by the Ku Klux Klan in London. Who else but Sherlock Holmes can solve these series of deaths?

Favourite Quote

“There is nothing more to be said or to be done tonight, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellowmen.”

Review

I’ve been looking back over my reviews of the short stories from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes so far, and I believe that I am rating them more harshly than I tend to usually rate what I read.  I wonder if that is because I have greater expectations of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, and what I do enjoy I really love, creating a starker contrast?  Just a thought…

This is another middle-of-the-road story from the collection.  The mystery was interesting and complex, but the ending was a little flat as there is no satisfactory conclusion to the story.  But perhaps that makes this instalment appear closer to real life which is hardly ever so neatly wrapped and tidied come the end.  It might also serve as a reminder that although Sherlock Holmes is a genius, he is still only human.

Also, I must say that I thought it was rather strange of Sherlock to explain to Mr Openshaw (the man that came to Baker Street with the case) just how much mortal danger he was in and then simply allow him to walk off into the night, alone and unprotected.

Rating

3.5 / 5

Short Story Review: A Case of Identity by Arthur Conan Doyle

A Case of Identity is the third short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Miss Mary Sutherland, angry and beside herself with feelings of loss, asks Sherlock Holmes to solve the sudden, mysterious disappearance of a shy and attentive man she has grown to love upon the very day they were to be married.

Favourite Quote

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.”

Review

Great storytelling, even if this story was a little predictable – or should I say easier to solve, than some of the other Sherlock Holmes mysteries?  The scheme involved wasn’t very nice at all and I found myself feeling sorry for Mary Sutherland one moment and wondering how she could have fallen for it the next.  So, a bit of a mixed bag, this one.

One of the high points of the story though was the conversation between Holmes and Watson where Sherlock, in the role of “master consulting detective” informs Watson his “pupil”, that he is getting better at the craft of the consulting detective.  He congratulates him with, “‘Pon my word, Watson, you are coming along wonderfully.  You have done very well indeed”, before he goes on to say, even if he failed to notice everything that was important about the case.  Smashing stuff!

Also, on a side note, I do enjoy coming across some of the more unusual names of the period.  In the last story, The Red-headed League, there was a “Jabez”.  In A Case of Identity, there is a “Hosmer”.

Rating

I’ve been readin The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle via Wattpad

Short Story Review: The Red-Headed League by Arthur Conan Doyle

Summary:

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson receive a visitor, Jabez Wilson, a man with a shock of red hair.  He explains that his assistant encouraged him to respond to advert in the paper offering very well-paid work to red-headed male applicants.  He wasn’t sure, thinking it was too good to be true, but acquiesced.  The following morning, he followed the directions from the advert and joined a long line of red-heads applying for the job.  However, it is only a very specific shade of red hair they are looking for, and Wilson is the only one offered the position.

When Wilson learns of the very simple work he must undertake in order to earn his high wage, he is eager to begin.  But after only four weeks the office mysteriously closes, and no-one has heard of the Red-Headed League, nor the man Wilson was interviewed / managed by.  So, he gets Sherlock Holmes on the case…

Favourite quote:

“It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes.”

Review:

The second short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle that I have been reading on Wattpad, is The Red-Headed League.  This is a very clever short story, but I enjoyed it less than A Scandal in Bohemia.

The misdirection is clever, the plot extremely well thought out and it is always great to see how Sherlock Holmes thinks and interprets the clues he has been given.  The idea of The Red-Headed League makes this an unusual story and for that reason, memorable, for it is so strange.  I think that it is that strangeness though, which is the reason why I liked this less than A Scandal in Bohemia.

Next up in the series is A Case of Identity, the review for which I hope to post within the next couple of weeks…

Rating:

three-stars