This is the first novel featuring Sherlock Holmes. As an introduction, it’s perfect. Almost. The book comes in two parts. The first part is Holmes meeting Watson and working their first case together. The second part follows the story of the murderer, detailing his background and motive. At the end of that section the two stories join and the murderer relates his tale to Holmes, Watson, and the police.
The first part is obviously the best, since it features Holmes. After all, he is the reason I read the book, so it was a little disappointing to have him absent from nearly half of it. On the other hand, this is the first Holmes book, so Conan Doyle had very little way of anticipating the draw his detective would have on the audience.
I already know the character so well, from a variety of film and TV adaptations, that I couldn’t help but smile at everything that I recognized and all the little details that I knew would figure in later, like testing poison on Watson’s dog. I highly recommend this to any Holmes fan. The book is fast and fresh. It may be over 100 years old, but it doesn’t feel like it. Go for it!
Review by Jessica, Assistant Director at Danville Public Library.