Arthur Conan Doyle – “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes” (1894)

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, originally published in 1894.

The only light in the room came from the lamp upon the table at which I had been reading. Holmes edged his way round the wall and flinging the shutters together, he bolted them securely.

“You are afraid of something?” I asked.

“Well, I am.”

“Of what?”

“Of air-guns.”

“My dear Holmes, what do you mean?”

“I think that you know me well enough, Watson, to understand that I am by no means a nervous man. At the same time, it is stupidity rather than courage to refuse to recognize danger when it is close upon you. Might I trouble you for a match?” He drew in the smoke of his cigarette as if the soothing influence was grateful to him.

“I must apologize for calling so late,” said he, “and I must further beg you to be so unconventional as to allow me to leave your house presently by scrambling over your back garden wall.”

“But what does it all mean?” I asked.

He held out his hand, and I saw in the light of the lamp that two of his knuckles were burst and bleeding.

“It is not an airy nothing, you see,” said he, smiling. “On the contrary, it is solid enough for a man to break his hand over.”

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Arthur Conan Doyle – “The Hound of the Baskervilles” (1902)

The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third of the four crime novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set largely on Dartmoor in Devon in England’s West Country and tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound of supernatural origin. Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson investigate the case. This was the first appearance of Holmes since his intended death in “The Final Problem”, and the success of The Hound of the Baskervilles led to the character’s eventual revival.

In 2003, the book was listed as number 128 of 200 on the BBC’s The Big Read poll of the UK’s “best-loved novel.” In 1999, it was listed as the top Holmes novel, with a perfect rating from Sherlockian scholars of 100.

“It was at my advice that Sir Charles was about to go to London. His heart was, I knew, affected, and the constant anxiety in which he lived, however chimerical the cause of it might be, was evidently having a serious effect upon his health. I thought that a few months among the distractions of town would send him back a new man. Mr. Stapleton, a mutual friend who was much concerned at his state of health, was of the same opinion. At the last instant came this terrible catastrophe.

“On the night of Sir Charles’s death Barrymore the butler, who made the discovery, sent Perkins the groom on horseback to me, and as I was sitting up late I was able to reach Baskerville Hall within an hour of the event. I checked and corroborated all the facts which were mentioned at the inquest. I followed the footsteps down the Yew Alley, I saw the spot at the moor-gate where he seemed to have waited, I remarked the change in the shape of the prints after that point, I noted that there were no other footsteps save those of Barrymore on the soft gravel, and finally I carefully examined the body, which had not been touched until my arrival. Sir Charles lay on his face, his arms out, his fingers dug into the ground, and his features convulsed with some strong emotion to such an extent that I could hardly have sworn to his identity. There was certainly no physical injury of any kind. But one false statement was made by Barrymore at the inquest. He said that there were no traces upon the ground round the body. He did not observe any. But I did-some little distance off, but fresh and clear.”

“Footprints?”

“Footprints.”

“A man’s or a woman’s?”

Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered:–

“Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”

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Arthur Conan Doyle – “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” (1892)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring his famous detective, and illustrated by Sidney Paget.

These are the first of the Sherlock Holmes short stories, originally published as single stories in the Strand Magazine from July 1891 to June 1892. They were collected and published in the book, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, on 14 October 1892 by George Newnes Ltd in England and on 15 October 1892 in the US by Harper. The initial combined print run was 14,500 copies. (Wikipedia)

“You can imagine from what I say that my poor sister Julia and I had no great pleasure in our lives. No servant would stay with us, and for a long time we did all the work of the house. She was but thirty at the time of her death, and yet her hair had already begun to whiten, even as mine has.”

“Your sister is dead, then?”

“She died just two years ago, and it is of her death that I wish to speak to you. You can understand that, living the life which I have described, we were little likely to see anyone of our own age and position. We had, however, an aunt, my mother’s maiden sister, Miss Honoria Westphail, who lives near Harrow, and we were occasionally allowed to pay short visits at this lady’s house. Julia went there at Christmas two years ago, and met there a half-pay major of marines, to whom she became engaged. My stepfather learned of the engagement when my sister returned and offered no objection to the marriage; but within a fortnight of the day which had been fixed for the wedding, the terrible event occurred which has deprived me of my only companion.”

Sherlock Holmes had been leaning back in his chair with his eyes closed and his head sunk in a cushion, but he half opened his lids now and glanced across at his visitor.

“Pray be precise as to details,” said he.

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Agatha Christie – “The Mysterious Affair At Styles” (1920)

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a detective novel by Agatha Christie. It was written in the middle of World War I, in 1916, and first published by John Lane in the United States in October 1920.

Styles was Christie’s first published novel, introducing Hercule Poirot, Inspector (later, Chief Inspector) Japp, and Arthur Hastings. Poirot, a Belgian refugee of the Great War, is settling in England near the home of Emily Cavendish, who helped him to his new life. His friend Hastings arrives as a guest at her home. When the woman is killed, Poirot uses his detective skills to solve the mystery. (Wikipedia)

Poirot was an extraordinary looking little man. He was hardly more than five feet, four inches, but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. The neatness of his attire was almost incredible. I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound. Yet this quaint dandyfied little man who, I was sorry to see, now limped badly, had been in his time one of the most celebrated members of the Belgian police. As a detective, his flair had been extraordinary, and he had achieved triumphs by unravelling some of the most baffling cases of the day.

He pointed out to me the little house inhabited by him and his fellow Belgians, and I promised to go and see him at an early date. Then he raised his hat with a flourish to Cynthia, and we drove away.

“He’s a dear little man,” said Cynthia. “I’d no idea you knew him.”

“You’ve been entertaining a celebrity unawares,” I replied.

And, for the rest of the way home, I recited to them the various exploits and triumphs of Hercule Poirot.

We arrived back in a very cheerful mood. As we entered the hall, Mrs. Inglethorp came out of her boudoir. She looked flushed and upset.

“Oh, it’s you,” she said.

“Is there anything the matter, Aunt Emily?” asked Cynthia.

“Certainly not,” said Mrs. Inglethorp sharply. “What should there be?”

 

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Agatha Christie – “The Secret Adversary” (1922)

The Secret Adversary is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie first published in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head in January 1922 and in the United States by Dodd, Mead and Company later in that same year. The UK edition retailed at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6) and the US edition at $1.75. It is her second published novel. The book introduces the characters of Tommy and Tuppence who feature in three other Christie novels and one collection of short stories; the five Tommy and Tuppence books span Agatha Christie’s writing career. (Wikipedia)

Hardly able to contain his excitement, Tommy hurried down the stairs. Tuppence was waiting at the angle of the turn.

“You heard?”

“Yes. Oh, Tommy!”

Tommy squeezed her arm sympathetically.

“I know, old thing. I feel the same.”

“It’s—it’s so lovely to think of things—and then for them really to happen!” cried Tuppence enthusiastically.

Her hand was still in Tommy’s. They had reached the entrance hall. There were footsteps on the stairs above them, and voices.

Suddenly, to Tommy’s complete surprise, Tuppence dragged him into the little space by the side of the lift where the shadow was deepest.

“What the——”

“Hush!”

Two men came down the stairs and passed out through the entrance. Tuppence’s hand closed tighter on Tommy’s arm.

“Quick—follow them. I daren’t. He might recognize me. I don’t know who the other man is, but the bigger of the two was Whittington.”

 

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