2020 Alphabet Soup – Author Challenge – The Return of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

Genre: British Detective, Classics, Short Stories

Narrative Style: First person, 

Rating: 4/5

Published:1904

Format: Paperback

Synopsis: Sherlock Holmes has been missing, presumed dead, after his encounter with Moriaty on the Reichenbach Falls. In the first story of this collection, he reappears, much to the surprise of Watson, his trusty sidekick. Together, they solve five more mysteries of varying degrees of complication. 

Reading Challenges: 2020 Alphabet Soup – Author Edition

Overall, I did enjoy this book but as always, whenever I read a Sherlock Holmes story, I have to overcome my irritation with the main character. Holmes is infuriatingly intelligent, able to spot things that most normal people don’t and always about three leaps ahead of everyone else. Unlike Watson, I don’t find these attractive attributes. I much prefer my detectives to be fallible – to be more human, in fact. But once you get over that – and Watson’s adoration which is also a little annoying – there is much to enjoy here.

The first story – which heralded Holmes reappearance – was perhaps the least satisfying. Holmes has information that Watson, Lestrade and the reader could not know. All that is left if for the reader is to admire Holmes’ abilities. Not much fun, to be honest.

The other four stories in this collection are all much more interesting and allow the reader to stretch their own powers of deduction a bit more. Indeed, I even worked out what one of the mysteries was. (Incidentally, I’m never sure if this pleases me or not. It shouldn’t be too easy to work out, nor too difficult. It’s a fine line or maybe I’m just difficult to please.)

The most enjoyable story was probably Black Peter. It was suitably twisty, it involved a policeman who jumped in the wrong direction, murder by harpoon and lots of cleverness from Sherlock including running through a pig with a harpoon to see how much strength it took.

Overall, I’m not a huge fan of short stories but they work nicely with detective stories. Obviously, if you have a full on police inquiry, you need a full novel but the quirky, interesting mysteries presented here are just complicated enough to sustain about 25 pages of text.

The Lost World – Arthur Conan Doyle – Eclectic Reader Challenge – Action Adventure

Since I discovered that classics are free on the kindle, I have been reading more of them. I’m not sure I would have ever got round to buying this – there would always have been something more pressing to spend my money on- but when I was looking for my next kindle buy, it jumped out at me. I’ve read quite a few of the Sherlock Holmes stories and I was curious to know whether Conan Doyle could do anything else.

When I started to read this, I had just finished the Eclectic Reader Challenge and I didn’t really know if I was going to do it twice as someone suggested. However, I realised that it would fit with the category Action Adventure so this is now the second blog I have written in my second round of reviews.

I really enjoyed this book. Certainly, Conan Doyle proves here that he is capable of writing in more than one style as this is really nothing like the Sherlock stories. The main character Edward Malone is a news reporter who, at the start of the story, proposes marriage only to be turned down by the object of his affections and told that she could only love a man who has had a great adventure. So, obediently, Malone finds himself an adventure to go on – off to the amazing lost world of the dinosaurs. (Interestingly, by the time he returns, she has married some one else – a clerk, no less. At the end of the novel, Malone is planning another adventure – presumably so he doesn’t get hurt again by one of those fickle women.)

The characters are all very well-drawn. Professor Challenger is superbly arrogant and annoying in his condescension. His intellectual rival, who is initially sceptical of the dinosaurs, Professor Summerlee is equally argumentative and arrogant and the pair have some superb arguments. The descriptions also give a wonderful sense of place and the platea

u is made to feel creepy and otherworldly before any of the dinosaurs are even s

ighted. In fact, it is a good third into the book before they even arrive at the plateau. Not that this was a problem for me – the events beforehand were all important  – but I could imagine it trying the patience of someone more used to modern literature.

lost worldIt has to be mentioned that some of the attitudes in this book are a little hard to stomach now. For example, it is taken as a given that the white men are superior, being further along the scale of evolution than any of the native characters. The one black character is loyal to the point of stupidity and talked about as if he were a pet rather than a human being. There is also a sense of imperialism, with the discussion of what to call the lakes and forests they discover as well as the assumption that the land was now theirs. This book is a hundred years old and in these attitudes it really shows. However, the sense of adventure and the action in this book are just as appealing as they ever were.