Arthur Conan Doyle

All posts tagged Arthur Conan Doyle

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

Published September 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches all about?:

The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches follows a young woman who seeks Holmes’ advice and assistance when she is asked to take the position of a governess under peculiar circumstances.

What did I think?:

I feel like I haven’t read a Sherlock Holmes short story in such a long time! This is partially down to how long it takes for this particular collection to roll round in my Short Stories Challenge and secondly, I’ve been a bit lackadaisical about my challenge recently, sometimes not being in the mood to read one short story per week and other times letting my backlog of reviews take priority. However, I hadn’t realised it was the final story in the collection and was delighted to discover that Conan Doyle concludes this series of adventures with Holmes and Watson on a high. The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches is coincidentally set in Hampshire where I spent a large portion of my early adulthood and where my parents still live now so I was charmed to read about an area that holds a very special place in my heart.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, channelling his very own inner Holmes perhaps?

The final story in this collection begins with a classic Holmes and Watson conversation where Holmes parades his ego, chastises Watson slightly for his “literary shortcomings,” when writing about all their previous cases and Watson becomes rather cross but only internally as he’s more than familiar with the way Holmes’ mind works and his rather brusque way of speaking and realises he means no personal slight by it. Soon enough, a young woman enters their rooms on Baker Street and begs their assistance with a very strange issue that at first, seems quite trivial but as the story continues, becomes more and more mysterious. She has been asked to take the position of governess in a country house close to Winchester to assume charge of one small boy and some other, more curious duties. This includes wearing a particular electric-blue dress, sitting in a specific spot and cutting her long, chestnut hair short.

She is understandably flabbergasted by these requests and is willing to do everything but cut her hair until her employer, Mr Rucastle offers her more money and practically destitute, she agrees to accept the job. It’s only as she begins to bow to the peculiar little whims of Rucastle and his wife that she realises something strange and rather uncomfortable is going on here and it’s up to Holmes and Watson to crack the case.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in the British TV series.

Conan Doyle certainly knew what he was doing when he was writing Sherlock Holmes in the late 1800’s. I do wonder if he would be shocked at how popular his work and his infamous detective still continue to be over one hundred years later and how many readers continue to be enraptured by the numerous mysteries and the infallible logic of Holmes himself. Let’s be honest, Holmes isn’t exactly the best at social interaction or niceties and even his most loyal friend Watson, gets frustrated with the way he goes about things, evident in The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches from the very beginning. Somehow, despite (or maybe because of) his eccentricities, readers like myself keep flocking back, undeniably curious to follow the deductions of a completely extraordinary mind.

Saying that, I did feel this specific short story didn’t have as much in the way of Holmes’ celebrated logic as other stories in the collection and for me, it was far more obvious what was going on in the Rucastle abode. Of course, this didn’t mean that I enjoyed it less and I certainly didn’t manage to piece together every single bit of the puzzle but it did seem less vague and easier to solve than other mysteries that I remember from this collection generally speaking.

If I’m thinking about the short story collection as a whole, I wouldn’t hesitate to whole-heartedly give it a big “thumbs up.” Yes, there are stories in there that are stronger than others but I believe that’s the case with most short story collections by one author that I come across. As an example of Conan Doyle’s genius, it’s nothing short of a masterpiece and is the perfect introduction to Holmes if you’ve never read him before or provides a nostalgic re-read for a die hard fan.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: My Mother’s Wedding by Tessa Hadley from the collection Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre edited by Tracy Chevalier.

 

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Part Two

Published April 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to the second part of my Short Stories Challenge for 2018. I have to admit, I’m feeling a little disillusioned writing this post and preparing which short stories I’m going to read for the next few months as in Part One earlier this year, I had so many disappointments and very few stellar stories that stood out to me. I think the biggest failures for me would have to be The Balloon Hoax by Edgar Allan Poe and Books And Roses by Helen Oyeyemi but I could mention a few more. However, let’s end on a positive – there was the wonderful The Apple Tree by Daphne du Maurier and Dibblespin by Angela Slatter which completely restored my faith in short stories. It is because of stories like these that I want to carry on with this challenge and find more great authors like the many, many ones I’ve found so far, purely from their short fiction alone. Let’s do this!

Four Hundred Rabbits by Simon Levack from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Vol 7.

20th Century Ghost by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

The Coincidence Of The Arts by Martin Amis from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

Beachworld by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Set-Up by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Some Drolls Are Like That And Some Are Like This by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives Of Women.

The Underhouse by Gerard Woodward from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

My Mother’s Wedding by Tessa Hadley from the collection Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre edited by Tracy Chevalier.

 

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Five

Published November 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

Image from: http://www.creativindie.com/how-to-make-money-by-publishing-and-selling-short-stories-and-short-books-on-amazon/

Hello everyone and welcome to the fifth part of my Short Stories Challenge in 2017. My fourth part was quite like the third, up and down. I had a huge disappointment with a short story by Daphne du Maurier which was Monte Verità but I also got some lovely surprises in the form of The House On The Hill by Kate Mosse and The Man In The Ditch by Lisa Tuttle. Here’s what I’ll be reading in the next few months:

Best New Horror by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

The Moons Of Jupiter by Alice Munro from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Unplugged by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Wisht by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

The Man From Mars by Margaret Atwood from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives Of Women.

Seeing Double by Sara Maitland from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

The Adventure Of The Beryl Coronet by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

Freaks: A Rizzoli & Isles Short Story by Tess Gerritsen (stand-alone).

High House by Rosy Thornton from the collection Sandlands.

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – The Adventure Of The Noble Bachelor by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

Published August 12, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s The Adventure Of The Noble Bachelor all about?:

The Noble Bachelor sees Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson looking into the mysterious disappearance of a wife shortly after she was married.

What did I think?:

Sherlock Holmes is always a joy and I always look forward to the stories coming up in this collection as I read it for the very first time. There haven’t been very many that I’ve disliked which is a relief after expecting such great things from the lauded Arthur Conan Doyle and his most beloved and famous British detective. The Adventure Of The Noble Bachelor was another fantastic example of a convoluted mystery with a satisfying conclusion, obviously herded along by the amazing powers of deduction possessed by Mr Sherlock Holmes!

The Noble Bachelor in our story is Lord Robert St. Simon, a wealthy man undergoing some financial difficulties but has been thrown a lifeline in the form of wife-to-be Hatty Doran, a very rich American heiress. That is, he was relieved to think his money worries were going to be over until Hatty does a disappearing act shortly after the wedding at the family house. St. Simon has no idea where she has gone and why and enlists the help of Holmes and Watson in order to solve the mystery and perhaps find out exactly what happened to his errant wife. As with all of the Sherlock mysteries, there is always something much deeper and more complex going on below the surface. So by picking up on the subtlest of clues, Holmes is able to solve the case within the same day and even though what he finds might not necessarily bring happiness to all partners concerned, at least they’ll all have a clearer idea of what their future may hold.

This story is one of the slightly shorter narratives in the collection but this did not affect my enjoyment of it in the slightest. In fact it was admirably and neatly wrapped up and I left it feeling quite content with my lot and once again, astounded with the sheer brilliance of the author’s imagination in devising all these different cases and the tiny little clues that lead to a big reveal or a conclusion. I don’t think it’s as difficult as some of the other mysteries to solve as a reader, I had guessed part of it before the great unveiling but there were still many things I hadn’t picked up on which I hugely enjoyed. Always a pleasure and never a chore – I’m loving my experience of reading all the Sherlock Holmes stories and will feel quite bereft when I’ve finished everything there is to read….until I read them all again of course!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT SHORT STORIES CHALLENGE: The Heart Goes Last: Positron, Episode Four by Margaret Atwood (stand-alone).

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Three

Published July 8, 2017 by bibliobeth

Image from https://www.standoutbooks.com/how-publish-short-story/

Hello everyone and welcome to Part Three of my Short Stories Challenge this year. Part Two was again, very interesting with some really memorable stories read, namely The Birds by Daphne du Maurier and Gallowberries by Angela Slatter which were both fantastic and HIGHLY recommended. Here’s to finding some more great short stories and authors in Part Three!

An Anxious Man by James Lasdun from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

Word Processor Of The Gods by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Hot Dog Stand by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Blue Moon by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

Master by Angela Carter from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives of Women.

Possum by Matthew Holness from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

The Adventure Of The Noble Bachelor by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

The Heart Goes Last: Positron, Episode Four by Margaret Atwood (stand-alone).

The White Doe by Rosy Thornton from the collection Sandlands.

The Light Through The Window by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky.

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – The Adventure Of The Engineer’s Thumb by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Published March 13, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s The Adventure Of The Engineer’s Thumb all about?:

A young man comes to see Dr Watson in his surgery with a bloody cloth wrapped around his missing thumb. However, this was no accident. Why exactly would someone want to remove someone else’s thumb? It is for Holmes and Watson to find out.

What did I think?:

This is one of the very few mysterious cases that Dr Watson happens upon himself and brings to his partner, Sherlock Holmes, he of the incredible deducing capabilities and brilliant nose for figuring out clues. It is when Watson has left Baker Street, is married and has opened his own practice. One morning a young man comes to see him missing a thumb that he swears was taken “by murderous intent,” and has quite the story to tell Holmes and Watson as the good doctor rushes him to Baker Street.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, as usual for anyone who hasn’t read it yet but I’ll give you a quick overview. Our missing thumb man is Victor Hatherley, hydraulic engineer who set up his own business but work has been slow of late until a strange, sinister looking man by the name of Colonel Lysander Stark offers him twice what he has made in the past two years simply to look at a piece of machinery that he owns, fix it up and stay the night. For some strange reason, Victor must visit the property at midnight to see the equipment, must stay overnight as there is no way he could return home at that time of night and must keep everything about this job completely top secret before, during and after the work is completed. This is stressed to be of the utmost importance by the peculiar Colonel Stark.

Of course, in complex cases such as these brought to Watson and Holmes things are never what they seem and it turns out this piece of equipment has a use far beyond what Stark has told the engineer it is used for. When Victor discovers what its true purpose is, he becomes in very real danger of losing his life but manages to escape leaving just his thumb behind.

There are not so many breadcrumbs of clues in this adventure as compared to other Holmes and Watson stories I’ve read in this collection but in no way did this affect the excitement of the plot and brilliance of the writing. Colonel Stark made a wonderful villain of the piece and it all got terribly tense and frightening, especially close to the end. It’s also one of those stories where the criminals may not necessarily get their comeuppance which used to irk me slightly at the beginning of this collection but I don’t mind so much anymore as occasionally it’s quite interesting to end the story in this way with the “baddies still on the loose” so as to speak!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT SHORT STORY: Erase Me: Positron, Episode Three – Margaret Atwood (stand-alone)

 

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part One

Published January 7, 2017 by bibliobeth

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Its a new year and time for some more short stories. I usually do short stories in three month blocks however I’ve been struggling to keep up with this so instead of calling this post January to March I shall call it Part One and see how I get on! This is what I’ll be reading in the first half of 2017:

The Raft by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

The Butcher Of Meena Creek by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears

The Wishing Tree by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Faithful Lovers by Margaret Drabble from the collection The Story: Love Loss & The Lives Of Women

Double Room by Ramsey Campbell from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page

The Adventure Of The Engineer’s Thumb by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Erase Me: Positron, Episode Three – Margaret Atwood (stand-alone)

On The Banks Of Table River: (Planet Lucina, Andromeda Galaxy, AD 2319) by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner: Love Stories

The Passenger by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky

Fleeing Complexity by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Short Stories Challenge – The Adventure Of The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Published July 29, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s The Adventure Of The Speckled Band all about?:

Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr Watson come to the aid of another damsel in distress whose beloved sister has died in rather suspicious circumstances.

What did I think?:

I’m really enjoying making my way through the entire Sherlock Holmes collection of stories and this latest offering, The Adventure Of The Speckled Band just re-iterated to me what an absolute genius Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was as an author. The lady desperate for assistance is Helen Stoner, a member of the well-known Roylott family of Surrey who have a grand estate but have fallen on harder times due to a number of gamblers and wasters in the family that have frittered away most of the fortune. When Helen’s mother passes away she leaves a considerable sum to her husband (Helen’s stepfather) on the provision that part of it should be paid to Helen and her sister Julia when they married.

The stepfather, Dr Grimesby Roylott is bit of a strange character to be honest. He meets and marries the girls mother when in India but has amassed a bit of a reputation as someone with a violent temper, narrowly escaping a prison sentence for beating his butler to death. He takes the girls back to the ancestral home in Surrey where, for a while, things run fairly smoothly… well, apart from the pet cheetah and baboon that he insists should be brought over from India for his amusement which leads the girls to lock themselves in their rooms each night for fear of the wild creatures. Then Julia becomes engaged to be married, not long after which a terrible tragedy occurs.

Julia had confided in her sister that she was beginning to feel quite afraid at night – she kept hearing a low whistle, from which direction she was not sure. Their stepfather has invited a band of gypsies to camp on their estate and she isn’t sure if the sound is coming from there but their rooms are both secure and there is no way entry can be forced. So, one night Helen hears an awful scream and a metallic “clang” sound from her sisters room and when she runs to her aid, Julia is petrified, shouts something about a “speckled band,” and promptly collapses, never regaining consciousness. When Holmes probes a bit further, he is certain that no-one has been inside Julia’s room and there are no obvious signs of injury to the body so what exactly killed her? Worse still, Helen has now been moved to her sister’s room and has heard the same low whistle that Julia described in the days before her death.

This was one of the more sinister of the Holmes stories that I have experienced and as a result, I absolutely loved it. There are quite obvious clues as to the perpetrator of the crime and the reasons behind it but the beauty of this little mystery lies in just how Julia met her untimely death. My heart was in my mouth most of the time, especially as Holmes and Watson take their investigation to the estate and sit in the foreboding room themselves, getting all the answers to their questions and much more besides. And, as always with Arthur Conan Doyle, I couldn’t have seen this conclusion coming! What is the mysterious speckled band? Read it for yourself!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

NEXT SHORT STORY: Choke Collar: Positron, Episode Two by Margaret Atwood (stand-alone)

Short Stories Challenge 2016 – January to March

Published January 9, 2016 by bibliobeth

short story2

Image from http://quotes.lifehack.org/quote/ali-smith/short-stories-consume-you-faster-theyre-connected/

Hooray for a new year and more short stories! This is what I’ll be reading for the first three months of 2016.

Week beginning 4th January 2016

Duet by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales

Week beginning 11th January 2016

The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer by John Ajvide Lindqvist from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Week beginning 18th January 2016

Dreams In The Witch-House by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 25th January 2016

Enough Of This Shit Already by Tony Black from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 1st February 2016

Stars Of Motown Shining Bright by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 8th February 2016

Charm For A Friend With A Lump by Helen Simpson from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 15th February 2016

Paranoid: A Chant by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 22nd February 2016

Still Life by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears

Week beginning 29th February 2016

Notes From The House Spirits by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Week beginning 7th March 2016

How I Finally Lost My Heart by Doris Lessing from the collection The Story: Love, Loss And The Lives Of Women

Week beginning 14th March 2016

The Graveless Doll Of Eric Mutis by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires In The Lemon Grove

Week beginning 21st March 2016

The Adventure Of The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 28th March 2016

Choke Collar: Positron, Episode Two by Margaret Atwood (stand-alone)

Short Stories Challenge – The Adventure Of the Blue Carbuncle by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Published December 8, 2015 by bibliobeth

3590

What’s The Adventure Of The Blue Carbuncle all about?:

It is Christmas and the disappearance of a precious jewel, along with a rise in the popularity of geese (or one particular goose!) leads to a curious case for Holmes and Watson.

What did I think?:

I’m really enjoying the stories in this collection, especially trying to figure out what exactly is going on before Holmes and Watson (which I never manage to of course). I have found that each story has elicited a different response from me and I’ve actually learned a lot along the way which I had never realised about the classic detective and his trusty and often befuddled side-kick. For example, sometimes no actual crime has been committed and the story veers into the “cosy little mystery” genre with Holmes and Watson solving a puzzle rather than catching a bad guy. I mention this because The Adventure Of The Blue Carbuncle has within it another new realisation for me, that is – sometimes the perp may not always be brought to justice.

The story is set in the festive season quite appropriately for when I am writing this review and, as often happens, Watson comes across Holmes in his infamous rooms in Baker Street in quiet reflection mode. Holmes has been brought a battered old hat earlier that day by Commissionaire Peterson who tells a rather strange story. The hat and a goose had been dropped by a man in a brawl with some rather nasty characters who had meant to rob him. Holmes is attempting to work out what sort of man owned such a hat, and doing rather well much to Watson’s amazement, predicting such intricate details even down to what kind of products the man used on his hair!

The tale ramps up another notch when the excited Peterson rushes into his rooms after finding something rather curious in the goose that his wife had been preparing for dinner. It is the almost priceless Blue Carbuncle, a jewel previously owned by the Countess of Morcar but had disappeared from her room where she was staying. The police already have a man in custody for the crime, a plumber who carrying out some work in the room when the jewel was assumed to have gone missing. Of course, Holmes believes the man is innocent of the charge and after some digging around is able to unmask the true thief. Sherlock must have a soft heart under that often implacable exterior though as it looks like he might let this one get away. It is Christmas, after all!

This was a really nice little story and came round in perfect timing for the holiday season. At first, I did think it was going to be a bit more of the same old thing i.e. Holmes has a clue, manages to deduce crazy things from the look, smell, taste etc of an object, Watson is befuddled, Holmes provides the explanation, Watson is amazed! I do enjoy this part of course, and his deductions this time were incredibly clever but it can get a little formulaic from story to story. This time, I was delighted to find the cosy little mystery combined with a jewel robbery and then implantation of the said jewel into a goose of all creatures! It was also interesting to see the tender side of Sherlock as he reasons that the jewel will return to its rightful owner and the thief would be unlikely to offend again. Lovely little tale if you fancy reading some detective fiction based in the festive period.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: Vuotjärvi by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

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Domestic geese have been used for centuries as watch animals and guards, and are among the most aggressive of all poultry – just a random fact for you!

Image and info from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_goose