The existence of fifty-six short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes makes it somewhat difficult to pick one clear favorite, at least for me. I start to talk about The Copper Beaches and its engaging heroine and bizarre mystery; then I think of The Speckled Band and its delightful creep factor. I can’t forget The Three Garridebs for its rare look at Holmes’s sentimental side or A Scandal in Bohemia for Holmes’s most famous defeat. My list of favorites can end up very long indeed.
With only four full-length novels, however, the task of picking a favorite is much easier. I would venture a guess that between A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Valley of Fear, the most common favorite is probably The Hound of the Baskervilles. It is, however, not my pick.
My favorite of the novels, without a doubt, is A Study in Scarlet, in spite of one large narrative section that is generally considered weak. The reason I choose it as my favorite is because of its account of the introductory period of Holmes and Watson’s friendship and partnership. The Holmes of this story is young, eccentric, and sharp-edged, not yet balanced by the influence of the kindly ironic Watson, whose wit comes out right away in his appraisal of his strange flatmate. From the beginning, the reader is introduced to two iconic characters, just as intriguing when they first meet as they are throughout their long association.
Today’s Canon Thursday question is all about the Sherlock Holmes novels. Which is your favorite? Any you dislike? Let me know in the comments.