Top Ten Sherlock Holmes Stories


As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the renowned author of the riveting Sherlock Holmes stories, who was also a revered sportsman, skilled Doctor and a politician, died on 7th July and recent news stories show filming is underway for the next series of the brilliant BBC adaptation, I thought I would take the opportunity to put together a list of my all time favourite stories. The short tales of Sherlock Holmes are the best cure for all known ills, in my opinion, and I have collated here a selection of the most interesting and devious.

  1. Silver Blaze: This great story that delves into the deepest realms of human greed. It gave the world the expression (regularly misquoted) expression about the curious incident of the dog in the night time. Also, the outcome is truly ingenious, and I would challenge anyone to guess it.
  1. A Scandal in Bohemia: The tale which bought Irene Adler into the world deserves much more recognition than it receives, as this story contains one of the most richly crafted and resonating characters in crime fiction history. Despite only appearing in this one story she is one of the most reproduced characters in the subsequent media based around the stories (besides Holmes and Watson). Every aspect of this story, from its riveting plot to the feisty dialogue is exhilarating, and it is well worth a read.
  1. The Dying Detective: As I am sure everyone is now well aware, this is not in fact the end of the great Sherlock Holmes, but rather a ruse designed to fool both the public and the stories’ characters. Such a scheme could only be necessitated by a genuinely devilish crime, and this is uncovered during the course of the tale as Holmes, using Watson as a puppet, lures the murderer to his confessional.
  1. The Red-Headed League: A fine example of Doyle’s cunning and humorous attitude to crime fiction, greed is once again the primary propellant in the plot of this clever story, which focuses around the client’s bright shock of red hair.
  1. The Five Orange Pips: A real mystery, this tale is both compelling and infuriating, with a plot so twisted it borders on convoluted. Despite this, the execution is excellent, with Doyle skilfully navigating the reader across continents and through duplicitous schemes with ease.
  1. The Three Garridebs: One of the strangest stories Doyle ever wrote about his famous detective, The Three Garridebs hides a simple motivation behind a confusing and frankly genius plot, centred around an unusual name. The shooting of Watson during the stories’ climax shows Homles’ affection for his friend and this combination of emotion and deft plotting is what makes this story unforgettable.
  1. His Last Bow: Although not the final Holmes story to be published, this text has a definitive feel to it, as Doyle skilfully arranges a fond farewell to quite possibly the greatest fictional detective ever created. Brimming with affection, this third person story is witty and intelligently plotted; blending spy fiction with the detective story genre which Doyle had helped to create.
  1. The Copper Beeches: Centred around the peculiar terms of the role of nanny, offered to a young woman who consults Sherlock Holmes, this story turns sinister quickly, with even more curious events eventually culminating in a horrifying discovery. This is the ultimate mystery, and one that shows Doyle’s skills as a writer to their full extent.
  1. The Final Problem: Doyle’s attempt to kill off his protagonist was, naturally, well written and perfectly plotted, as the inventor sought to provide his much maligned creation with a fitting ending. Despite this Sherlock was bought back by popular demand a decade later, as public perseverance eventually wore the writer down.
  1. The Empty House: The amazing return of Sherlock Holmes, killed off by his creator out of frustration and resurrected by public demand, is the very pinnacle of detective stories. Highlighting the truly remarkable bond between Holmes and Watson, this story, which marks the beginning of The Return of Sherlock Holmes and is the birthplace of several of one of the most revered killers in the Sherlock cannon, is one to be devoured in one sitting.

7 thoughts on “Top Ten Sherlock Holmes Stories

  1. A great list here. I completely agree with The Empty House being at the top of the list – I wrote a Moriarty story for an anthology that was set partly in Camden House so it is one of my favourites. Although, I have to make a case for The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb – it is one of those rare occasions where Holmes makes very little impact on the main story, but the story itself is still riddled with the logic and thoughtfulness of the rest of the stories. Fantastic post.


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