Canon Thursday: Favorite Holmes Novel

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.

3 thoughts on “Canon Thursday: Favorite Holmes Novel

  1. I adored The Sign of Four when I was younger. Not sure why that one in particular caught my attention so strongly but it was definitely my favorite when I was an adolescent. Something about the sort of mystery of The Eastern element with names like Pondicherry grabbed me, and at the same time I think that it would be hard to resist the pull of any story that begins the way that one does – with Holmes shooting up. It’s a bit dramatic, to say the least!

  2. I think it is still Study in Scarlet for me. It was the first ACD that i read my first introduction to Holmes and I still remember meeting him as Dr Watson met him and being fascinated by the creature who was unlike anyone I’d met or even read about.

    The sweep of the novel and the drama of the story caught me up and I remain caught to this day. I return to it often still with a thrill. So for me STUD!

  3. All four novels certainly have their memorable features. Study In Scarlet will always have the fabled first meeting of Holmes and Watson, as well as the dramatic capture of Jefferson Hope. The Sign of Four has Mary Morstan, the climactic trip down the Thames after the steamship Aurora, Thaddeus Sholto, and Holmes’ deductions from Watson’s pocket watch. Valley of Fear has the exciting climax “I am Birdy Edwards!” and our most intimate look at the Holmes/Moriarty relationship. Still, Hound of the Baskervilles remains the most oft adapted Holmes novels due to the vibrant double setting (both London and Dartmoor), Holmes at his most mysterious and brilliant, the true and classic whodunnit quality of the tale, and Watson’s intrepid personality that really shines. Frankly, it is difficult to choose, but I’d have to say that HOUN is the quintessential Holmes novel.

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