Title: The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Genre: Fiction, literature, short stories, mystery, detective fiction.
Publication Date: 1922, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927 (this compendium 1986).
Summary: This last published Sherlock Holmes collection compiles 12 short stories. In The Adventure of the Illustrious Client (1924), Holmes and Watson are asked to interfere in the marriage of a rich and pure girl and an infamous, dangerous scoundrel who has so ensnared her she refuses to hear anything against him, which forces Holmes do dig deep into the man's past to find something that would be able to dissuade her. In The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier (1926), Holmes is approached by a young man recently back from the Boer War in South Africa who, upon trying to track down a close comrade and having been told by the family that he has gone on a lengthy world tour, becomes convinced that his friend is being held against his will at his family's estate. In The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone (1921), Holmes lures the murderous thieves of an invaluable diamond to Baker street, and tricks them into revealing their crime and their loot with the help of a plaster dummy of himself. In The Adventure of the Three Gables (1926), a widow approaches Holmes about a curious request she has received to sell her house with absolutely all of its contents for a large sum, and Holmes suspects the mysterious buyer is after something in the widow's recently deceased son's possessions, and believes she is in danger of robbery. In The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire (1924), Holmes is approached by a distraught man who believes his young foreign wife engages in vampirism on their new-born child, and puts the baby and his son by a previous marriage at risk, though Holmes quickly deduces there is a much less supernatural, though much more devious, explanation. In The Adventure of the Three Garridebs (1924), Holmes and Watson are approached with a fantastic story of a man looking for two name-sakes to meet the conditions of inheritance of an enormous fortune, but Holmes suspects there is a dangerous person and a sinister plan behind the ruse. In The Problem of Thor Bridge (1922), a governess is accused of murdering the wife in the family she works for, and though all physical evidence (as well as a possible love triangle), points to her unequivocal guilt, Holmes's attention to the minutest details uncovers another surprising alternative. In The Adventure of the Creeping Man (1923), after a man comes from a visit to Prague, he begins to act bizarrely every few days and is rejected by the family dog, which causes his family to seek Holmes's help to figure out what is happening, and whether it has anything to do with the man's upcoming marriage to a much younger bride. In The Adventure of the Lion's Mane (1926), Holmes, now retired in Sussex, comes across a young man that seems to have been attacked whilst swimming and died in extreme agony with strange and horrific wounds on his body and the words "Lion's Mane" on his lips, and though all evidence points to his sullen and fiery colleague, Holmes realizes there may be an unlikely but natural explanation for the brutal death. In The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger (1927), a woman confesses to Holmes what happened in a vicious lion attack in a circus involving herself and her husband many years ago, during which a plan to save the woman from a brutal and violent husband goes awry, costing a heavy price to all those involved. In The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place (1927), Holmes is approaches about some very odd behaviour of a man who lives off his rich sister on a large estate, and breeds champion horses including a colt set for a race that, if won, would save the owner from destitution, but Holmes soon realizes not only the facts but some of the people involved are far from what or who they seem. In The Adventure of the Retired Colourman (1926), a misery and mean man asks Holmes for help when his much younger wife runs off with a young doctor and takes all of the man's fortune and assets, but attention to detail and quick wits paint a completely different, dark reality for Holmes.
My rating: 8/10.
My review: I have to admit, this is one of my favourite Holmes volumes, because, although the stories themselves are just as good as all the other Sherlock stories, this volume overall seems to delve deeper than all the others into the fascinating relationship between Holmes and Watson. To start off, between The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier, The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone, and The Adventure of the Lion's Mane it does become quite evident that neither a 3rd-person narrative, nor a narrative from the point of view of Holmes, is an effective method for the stories, so I am glad Doyle didn't dwell on that experiment - good old Watson is the perfect narrator. I wasn't particularly taken with The Adventure of the Illustrious Client, mainly because love-obsessed women who are obstinate in their obsession to the point of absolute irrationality is something that annoys me, both in real life and in fiction. Whilst I enjoyed Holmes's ingenuity, as always, it irked me that he had to bend over backwards to convince this chick that her husband-to-be is bad news, when absolutely everyone she loves and cares about and knows has been telling her so all along. As for Holmes, though, he was as clever and snarky as ever, which will brighten up any Sherlock Holmes story! I really enjoyed The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier - it plays on the emotions very well, and the ending is certainly far from predictable. From concern of the client looking for his friend, to anger for the father who obstinately and rudely lies of the whereabouts of his son, to anxiety over the man being imprisoned and likely mistreated, to surprise at the conclusion - Doyle really manages to insert one into the plot and make one feel a myriad of things before delivering the satisfying, even happy, ending. The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone was a good story. You really get a sense of how in control Holmes is of his surroundings and situations, no matter how dangerous or nerve-wracking they are. He is as confident of his capability to hold his own (both physically and intellectually) as he is about the correctness of his theories, which is, frankly, a quality that makes Holmes very attractive. I love the dummy plot, as well - you don't get a lot of Holmes stories that all take place in one room and depend mostly on conversational wit and play of personalities, but it works very well. The Adventure of the Three Gables was the one throw-away story for me in this collection. Again, Doyle does everything well, much better than many, but in comparison to his own stories, I do believe this one to be significantly weaker. The twist (though, granted, not the details thereof) was very predictable - the resolution very anti-climactic. The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire is an interesting story, because although almost from the beginning you get an inkling of what's happening and who may be behind it, you aren't quite able to put all the pieces together yourself until the very end. It does a great job of outlining Sherlock's greatest gift - attention to the smallest, most insignificant details and the ability to put them together into a logical narrative that seems almost redundantly obvious once they're laid out. The Adventure of the Three Garridebs is actually one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes stories, because it's the only story (and, by Watson's admitting, the only time), that Holmes shows exactly how much he cares for Watson. It's quite powerful, especially because Holmes generally acts like he couldn't care less about Watson (or anyone), to realize how much he means to him, and how unprepared and scared he is of losing him. Ironically, the plot-line in this particular story is actually not as strong as it could be, but it's still pretty typically entertaining and intriguing, although with a slightly more foreseeable solution. The Problem of Thor Bridge was the most complicated and ingenious puzzle in the lot, and I loved it! Everything from the Medea-like wife, to the ingenious way she kills herself, is just perfect. I would have never in a million years come to the conclusion Holmes comes to, and those are the best of Holmes stories. The Adventure of the Creeping Man was fun and, in some aspects, highly humorous, which is not so common for Holmes. Even with my rather extensive knowledge of drugs and their effects, I could not have predicted the end twist. The strange movements of the man are creepy in the way that a lot of current Japanese horror movies rely on, which creates a very unpleasantly chilling image. I especially liked the random tree-climbing and the rejection of the dog, both of which come off a lot more endearing once you find out the secret behind the mystery. I quite liked The Adventure of the Lion's Mane! It's pretty unique in its villain - almost reminiscent of The Murders in the Rue Morgue. There is something terrifying about it, especially in retrospect, because any horrific creature from the depths of a body of water is bound to awaken at least one instinctive phobia in everyone. Plus it's always fun when you have a ready-made villain that turns out to be not a villain at all (though often quite an ass) - that's always an effective plot device to make one question one's leaping to conclusions, which Holmes himself advises sternly against. I was not too moved by The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger, maybe because it was a simple narrative, with a very little puzzle to unravel, and one couldn't anyway, until an explanation of the circumstances is provided. It's a bit of a depressing story, too, but there is a cold realism behind it, as well. It's not a very big part of the story, but I enjoyed that after the mauling, her lover didn't stay with her and she didn't expect him to. I'm not sure why this appealed to me, I wouldn't necessarily understand someone leaving someone they proclaim to love because they got an accidental physical deformity (especially when it was their fault), but there is nonetheless something humanly ignoble about it. The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place was interesting and compelling enough. I actually enjoy the re-occurring plot device of the dog always being able to recognize when the person is not its owner that Doyle seems to be fond of. I liked the fact that the savage brutality that is suggested by Holmes's initial discovery plays on the imagination, but in the end turns out to have a very different-from-expected resolution (but not before your imagination takes you through several quite unpleasant scenarios).
The Adventure of the Retired Colourman is as satisfying a story as any in which someone deliberately tries to fool Holmes.
♥ Both Holmes and I had a weakness for the Turkish bath. It was over a smoke in the pleasant lassitude of the drying-room that I have found him less reticent and more human than anywhere else.
♥ "To revenge crime is important, but to prevent it is more so."
♥ "He is an excellent antagonist, cool as ice, silky voiced and soothing as one of your fashionable consultants, and poisonous as a cobra. He has breeding in him—a real aristocrat of crime, with a superficial suggestion of afternoon tea and all the cruelty of the grave behind it. Yes, I am glad to have had my attention called to Baron Adelbert Gruner."
♥ "You may have noticed how extremes call to each other, the spiritual to the animal, the cave-man to the angel."
♥ Sherlock Holmes was threatened with a prosecution for burglary, but when an object is good and a client is sufficiently illustrious, even the rigid British law becomes human and elastic. My friend has not yet stood in the dock.
~~The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.
♥ Speaking of my old friend and biographer, I would take this opportunity to remark that if I burden myself with a companion in my various little inquiries it is not done out of sentiment or caprice, but it is that Watson has some remarkable characteristics if his own to which in his modesty he has given small attention amid his exaggerated estimates of my own performances. A confederate who foresees your conclusions and course of action is always dangerous, but one to whom each development comes as a perpetual surprise, and to whom the future is always a closed book, is indeed an ideal helpmate.
♥ The good Watson had at that time deserted me for a wife, the only selfish action which I can recall in our association.
♥ "You see everything."
"I see no more than you, but I have trained myself to notice what I see."
♥ And here it is that I miss my Watson. By cunning questions and ejaculations of wonder he could elevate my simple art, which is by systematized common sense, into a prodigy. When I tell my own story I have no such aid.
♥ "That process," said I, "starts upon the supposition that when you have eliminated all which us impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. It may well be that several explanations remain, in which case one tries test after test until one or other of them has a convincing amount of support."
~~The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier
♥ "And Mr. Holmes knows it?"
"Mr. Holmes always knows whatever there is to know."
♥ "But why not eat?"
"Because the faculties become refined when you starve them. Why, surely, as a doctor, my dear Watson, you must admit that what your digestion gains in the way of blood supply is so much lost to the brain. I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix. Therefore, it is the brain I must consider."
♥ "You admit that you have dogged me. Why?"
"Come now, Count. You used to shoot lions in Algeria."
"Why? The sport—the excitement—the danger!"
"And, no doubt, to free the country from a pest?"
"My reason in a nutshell!"
♥ "No violence, gentlemen—no violence, I beg of you! Consider the furniture!"
♥ "We give you best, Holmes. I believe you are the devil himself."
"Not far from him, at any rate," Holmes answered with a polite smile.
~~The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone.
♥ "Honest business men don't conceal their place of business."
♥ "Meantime, lady"—he wagged a cautionary forefinger—"have a care! Have a care! You can't play with edged tools forever without cutting those dainty hands."
~~The Adventure of the Three Gables.
♥ "But are we to give serious attention to such things? This agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain. The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply."
♥ "Precisely," said Holmes coldly. It was one of the peculiarities of his proud, self-contained nature that though he docketed any fresh information very quietly and accurately in his brain, he seldom made any acknowledgement to the giver.
♥ "Of course I remember him," said I as I laid down the letter. "Big Bob Ferguson, the finest three-quarter Richmond ever had. He was always a good-natured chap. It's like him to be so concerned over a friend's case."
Holmes looked at me thoughtfully and shook his head.
"I never get your limits, Watson," said he. "There are unexplored possibilities about you. Take a wire down, like a good fellow. 'Will examine your case with pleasure.'"
"We must not let him think that this agency is a home for the weak-minded. Of course it is his case."
♥ "One forms provisional theories and waits for time or fuller knowledge to explode them. A bad habit, Mr. Ferguson, but human nature is weak."
~~The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire.
♥ It may have been a comedy, or it may have been a tragedy. It cost one man his reason, it cost me a blood-letting, and it cost yet another man the penalties of the law. Yet there was certainly an element of comedy. Well, you shall judge for yourselves.
♥ "This is a more serious matter than I had expected, Watson," said he. "It is fair to tell you so, though I know it will only be an additional reason to you for running your head into danger. I should know my Watson by now. But there is danger, and you should know it."
"Well, it is not the first we have shared, Holmes. I hope it may not be the last."
♥ Then my friend's wiry arms were round me, and he was leading me to a chair.
"You're not hurt, Watson? For God's sake, say that you are not hurt!"
It was not worth a wound—it was worth many wounds—to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble and single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.
"It's nothing, Holmes. It's a mere scratch."
He had ripped up my trousers with his pocket-knife.
"You are right," he cried with an immense sigh of relief. "It is quite superficial." His face set like flint as he glared at our prisoner, who was sitting up with a dazed face. "By the Lord, it is as well for you. If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive."
~~The Adventure of the Three Garridebs.
♥ There remain a considerable residue of cases of greater or less interest which I might have edited before had I not feared to give the public a surfeit which might react upon the reputation of the man whom above all others I revere.
♥ It was a wild morning in October, and I observed as I was dressing how the last remaining leaves were being whirled from the solitary plane tree which graces the yard behind our house. I descended to breakfast prepared to ind my companion in depressed spirits, for, like all great artists, he was easily impressed by his surroundings.
♥ "It's only for the young lady's sake that I touch your case at all," said Holmes sternly. "I don't know that anything she is accused of is really worse than what you have yourself admitted, that you have tried to ruin a defenceless girl who was under your roof. Some of you rich men have to be taught that all the world cannot be bribed into condoning your offences."
♥ "But there is so much to explain."
"Well, we shall set about explaining it. When once your point of view is changed, the very thing which was so damning becomes a clue to the truth."
~~The Problem of Thor Bridge.
♥ It was one Sunday evening early in September of the year 1903 that I received one of Holmes's laconic messages:
The relations between us in those latter days were peculiar. He was a man of habits, narrow and concentrated habits, and I had become one of them. As an institution I was like the violin, the shag tobacco, the old black pipe, the index books, and others perhaps less excusable. When it was a case of active work and a comrade was needed upon whose nerve he could place some reliance, my rôle was obvious. But apart from this I had uses. I was a whetstone for his mind. I stimulated him. He liked to think aloud in my presence. His remarks could hardly be said to be made to me—many of them would have been as appropriately addressed to his bedstead—but none the less, having formed the habit, it had become in some way helpful that I should register and interject. If I irritated him by a certain methodical slowness in my mentality, that irritation served only to make his own flame-like intuitions and impressions flash up the more vividly and swiftly. Such was my humble rôle in our alliance.
♥ "Always look at the hands first, Watson. Then cuffs, trouser-knees, and boots.
♥ "Well, thanks to you, Mr. Holmes, it is very clear that we have traced the evil to its source."
"The real source," said Holmes, "lies, of course, in that untimely love affair which gave our impetuous professor the idea that he could only gain his wish by turning himself into a younger man. When one tries to rise above Nature one is liable to fall below it."
♥ "But it may recur. Others may find a better way. There is danger there—a very real danger to humanity. Consider, Watson, that the material, the sensual, the worldly would all prolong their worthless lives. The spiritual would not avoid the call to something higher. It would be the survival of the least fit. What sort of cesspool may not our poor world become?"
~~The Adventure of the Creeping Man.
♥ You will know, or Watson has written in vain, that I hold a vast store of out-of-the-way knowledge without scientific system, but very available for the needs of my work. My mind is like a crowded box-room with packets of all sorts stowed away therein—so many that I may well have but a vague perception of what was there.
♥ "I am an omnivorous reader with a strangely retentive memory for trifles."
♥ "Well, you've done it!" he cried at last. "I have read of you, but I never believed it. It's wonderful!"
I was forced to shake my head. To accept such praise was to lower one's own standards.
~~The Adventure of the Lion's Mane.
♥ "I never saw him or heard from him again. Perhaps I have been wrong to feel so bitterly against him. He might as soon have loved one of the freaks whom we carried round the country as the thing which the lion had left. But a woman's love is not so easily set aside. He had left me under the beast's claws, he had deserted me in my need, and yet I could not bring myself to give him to the gallows. For myself, I cared nothing what became of me. What could be more dreadful than my actual life? But I stood between Leonardo and his fate."
♥ "Your life is not your own," he said. "Keep your hands off it."
"What use is it to anyone?"
"How can you tell? The example of patient suffering is in itself the most precious of all lessons to an impatient world."
~~The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger.
♥ The door had opened and the page had shown in a tall, clean-shaven man with the firm, austere expression which is only seen upon those who have to control horses or boys.
~~The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place.
♥ "You know that particular quarter, the monotonous brick streets, the weary suburban highways. Right in the middle of them, a little island of ancient culture and comfort, lies this old home, surrounded by a high sun-baked wall mottled with lichens and topped with moss, the sort of wall—"
"Cut out the poetry, Watson," said Holmes severely. "I note that it was a high brick wall."
♥ "Quite simple, my dear Watson. But let us get down to what is practical. I must admit to you that the case, which seemed to me to be so absurdly simple as to be hardly worth my notice, is rapidly assuming a very different aspect. It is true that though in your mission you have missed everything of importance, yet even those things which have obtruded themselves upon your notice give rise to serious thought."
♥ "Amberley excelled at chess—one mark, Watson, of a scheming mind."
♥ "There being no fear of interruption I proceeded to burgle the house. Burglary has always been alternative profession had I cared to about it, and I have little doubt that I should have come to front."
♥ "You'll get results, Inspector, by always putting yourself in the other fellow's place, and thinking what you would do yourself."
~~The Adventure of the Retired Colourman.