In 1891 and ’92 Arthur Conan Doyle wrote twelve short stories for The Strand Magazine published in London. The stories all use the voice of Dr. Watson. His stories are about the exploits of the genius, Sherlock Holmes. A righter of wrongs, Holmes helps people to find justice, especially if the problems are difficult to almost impossible to solve. The stories boosted the sales of the magazine so high, that Doyle asked for more money on subsequent stories.

The format of the stories is much the same as the novels. The ones in this volume are not told in chronological order: some occured while Watson still lived with Homes, others occured after Watson married. At the beginning of many of them Watson explained why he chose to chronicle that particular case out of the many Holmes had solved. Though there are similar characteristics in each story, Doyle did an excellent job in keeping them from becoming formulaic and predictable. Some involve the police, some don’t. In a few Holmes let the perpetrator go for various reasons (in one, the man did not have long to live; another involved a young man whom Holmes thought would go right after the scare of almost getting into big trouble). Some involved a crime that had already been done, some involved a crime that had yet to be committed, some involved other mysteries.

A great book if you love reading thrillers, adventure-fiction, detective fiction and solving mysteries. Engaging plots with bizarre characters.

The King of Bohemia asks Sherlock Holmes to retrieve an incriminating photo where he appears with his former mistress, Irene Adler. The release of the photo could irreparably ruin the King's marriage. Holmes (disguised as a groom) spies and tracks Irene, and finds himself as the best man of the marriage between Miss Irene Adler and Mr. Godfrey Norton. The same evening, Holmes (disguised as a clergyman) feigns to be wounded in a street battle in front of Briony Lodge and succeeds to enter in Irene's house. With the complicity of Watson and a smart stratagem of false fire alarm, he makes Irene Adler betray herself. Because of the smoke, she rushed to a secret panel which was hiding the photograph. Holmes can't take the photo because the coachman was in the same room, so he decides to come back the next day with the King. Unfortunately, when they came back to Briony Lodge on the next morning, they learn that Irene, who understood the stratagem of Sherlock Holmes, has left the country a few hours before with her husband. However, she addressed a letter to the detective, explaining that she will use the photo only for defensive purpose. She attached a photo of herself for the King as a souvenir. Holmes refused the royal reward from the King but asked him a more valuable present: the photo of Irene Adler.

The Red-Headed League
Mr. Jabez Wilson, a red-headed pawnbroker near The City, is informed by his new employee Vincent Spaulding that The Red-Headed League is proposing an easy and well-paid job only for red haired persons. Mr. Wilson applies and get the job. He is asked to copy the Encyclopaedia Britannica 4 hours a day in a small office at Pope's Court. After two months, suddenly he office is closed, the Red-Headed League is dissolved and his providential job stops with no news from the managers. He decides then to consult Sherlock Holmes. After some investigations, the detective discovers that the League was a pretext intended to take Mr. Wilson away from his shop, so Spaulding (aka the criminal John Clay) could dig a tunnel from the shop to the bank on the other side of the street...

A Case Of Identity
Miss Mary Sutherland consults Sherlock Holmes because her fiancé Mr Hosmer Angel disappeared just before their wedding. After hearing her story, Sherlock Holmes thinks this case is quite simple as he knows some similar cases. By a simple exchange of letters with Mr Windibank, Mary's step-father, he manages to confound him. The latter confess that to avoid the loss of his stepdaughter fortune, he disguised himself and pretended to be Mr Angel to seduce her. The girl fell into the trap. He made her promise to remain faithful to him (Angel) whatever life events may occur. His idea was to eliminate Angel so that Mary remains forever single and that he could enjoy the rent of his stepdaughter. Unfortunately, Holmes can not do much because Windibank done nothing actionable. He decides not to tell anything to Mary as she would not believe him.

The Boscombe Valley Mystery
Holmes and Watson go to Boscombe to help Lestrade on the murder of the old McCarthy. All testimonials criminalize the son, James McCarthy, but his fiancée, Miss Turner is convinced of his innocence. By carefully observing the crime scene, Holmes finds different footprints and a stone he claims to be the murder weapon and he gives a very accurate description of the murderer. He also visited the young McCarthy in prison to hear his version. With all these elements Holmes concludes that the murderer is the old Turner, the father of Miss Turner. He sent him a convocation note. Turner tells his story. In Australia, it was known as Black Jack of Ballarat and he was attacking convoys. One day he attacked the convoy of McCarthy but let him alive. Back in England, rich and decided to pull over and do good, he married and gave birth to a daughter. But he met McCarthy who recognized him and began blackmail. Gradually, he had to give all his fortune, but when McCarthy insisted that his son marries his daughter, it was too much and he killed him. Having Turner's confession written, Holmes decides not to report it because the old man is dying. The young James McCarthy was acquitted thanks to Sherlock Holmes objections and the confession wasn't needed. The old Turner died seven months later and the two young ignored all of the past of their parents.

The Five Orange Pips
A young man, John Openshaw asked Sherlock Holmes for help. He told the story of his uncle which after participating to the Civil War in the Confederates army went to settle in England. One day, he received a letter with five orange pips and only signature the initials K.K.K.. He died soon after. A few times later, John's father died all the same after a similar letter. Two years has passed since, and now John received the dreadful letter with instructions to deliver some documents. Holmes advise him to obey. Unfortunately, John is killed on his way home. Sherlock Holmes promised to avenge his later client. He succeed to identify the Ku Klux Klan members but too late, they all fled by sea. He later learnt that the criminals perished on sea with the boat.

The Man With The Twisted Lip
Upon her request, Watson went to find Mrs Whitney's husband in an opium den. There, he stumbled upon a dressed up Holmes, looking for a man called Neville Saint-Clair, who'd been missing for a few days. After sending Mr. Whitney back at his home, Holmes and Watson went to the Saint-Clairs' house to question Neville's wife – as she also happened to be one of Holmes’ clients. She told the two men that a few days before, as she was walking on Upper Swandam Lane, she saw her husband waving at a window of the second floor of the Bar of Gold, an opium den. As nobody would allow the poor lady to reach the second floor, she decided to call the police. The policemen searched the room, but the only person in there was a disfigured beggar named Hugh Boone. The police also found a few blood marks near another window overlooking the Thames, and a moment later, fished Saint-Clair's jacket, heavy with coins, out of the river. Holmes reckoned Neville was dead, but Mrs. Saint-Clair received a pretty reassuring letter from her husband himself. After a night of deep reflection, Holmes went to Bow Street Police Department to pay Hugh Boone a visit. He cleaned the man's face, and discovered that Saint-Clair and Boone were actually one and the same. For several years, the poor lad had been earning more money as a beggar than as an clerk. And, when his wife had seen him, he hadn't been able to tell her about his real source of income.

The Adventure Of The Blue Carbuncle
While going home, Peterson, the commissionaire, is witnessing a fight between a man and thugs. In the fight, the man looses his hat and a goose. At the sight of the uniform of Peterson, everyone flee, leaving the hat and goose on the floor. Holmes advises him to eat the goose and give him the hat, from which he deduces that he belongs to a Mr. Henry Baker. While cooking the goose, Peterson's wife discovers a priceless gem in the crop of the bird. The very stone stolen from the Countess of Morcar a few days ago at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. John Horner, a plumber who was working at the hotel, was accused of the theft and arrested on the testimony of James Ryder, the chief of staff. Holmes publishes an ad in the newspapers to find Mr. Henry Baker. He successes to trace back the history of the goose until the provider and finds James Ryder, the real thief of the stone. He lets Ryder leave the country but Horner could be released because the lack of evidence. The carbuncle is returned to the Countess and Peterson receives a reward of £1,000.

The Adventure Of The Speckled Band
Helen Stoner, a terrified young lady, comes and asks Holmes for help. A short time before the planned marriage of her sister Julia, the latter died without identifiable cause after uttering these mysterious last words: "The Speckled Band." Some days before her demise, she had complained about being disturbed, during the nights, by a strange hissing. Now, it is Helen's turn to get married and her step-father Doctor Roylott, an unsociable and violent man, has forced her to move into Julia's bedroom under false pretences. Holmes, worried, decides to go with Watson to Stock Moran the very same day. During the travel, he explains to his friend that, in accordance to his wife's will, Roylott can dispose of his stepdaughters' income, until they get married. While looking over Julia's bedroom, Holmes notices that its ventilator opens onto Roylott's bedroom and that the bell rope is a dummy. So, he lies in ambush with Watson in the garden pavilion. When Roylott has retired to his room, Helen warns our heroes by means of a light signal and leaves Julia's bedroom, where they take up position. After a long and agonizing wait, they hear something hissing: a snake. Holmes strikes it with a rod and the angry reptile returns to his owner and bites him. Roylott, who refused to lose his stepdaughters' income because of their marriage, had trained the snake to slip, through the ventilator and along the bell rope, to the bed of its victims and to come back when he whistled for it. But Roylott's living weapon turned against the villain and killed him!

The Adventure Of The Engineer’s Thumb
Victor Hatherley meets Watson to heal his cut thumb. Watson treat the wounded part and lead Hatherley to Baker Street because the circumstances of the accident are curious. Hired by Colonel Lysander Stark to repair his hydraulic press at Eyford, Hatherley went there in the utmost discretion. There he has been urged to be cautious by a woman, Elise, and he realized that the press was not intended to be used for honest purposes. Thanks to Elise, Victor Hatherley narrowly escaped death, but his thumb was cut by Stark who pursued him. Holmes goes to the Eyford house but he discovers it burning and its occupants, counterfeiters, on the run.

The Adventure Of The Noble Bachelor
Lord Robert St Simon visits Sherlock Holmes because his fiancée, Miss Hatty Doran, disappeared on the day of her wedding. After the Lord's narrative, Holmes thinks he has already solved the case. He goes out for a few hours and then ask Lord St Simon to come at Baker Street. He also invited Miss Doran that he found. She is accompanied by Francis Hay Moulton, an American. When they are all gathered, Miss Doran explains what happened. She was married in the USA, but Francis, her husband, had been attacked by Apaches and it was reported that there was no survivors. A few months later she met Lord St Simon and the new marriage was planned in London. But the day of the ceremony, Francis reappeared and she decided to go with him and hid in London. Sherlock Holmes had deduced the presence of a former husband, American, and the place where she was hiding thanks to a note found by Lestrade. Lord St Simon leaves Baker Street upset and bachelor again.

The Adventure Of The Beryl Coronet
The banker Alexander Holder goes to Baker Street to tell Holmes his story: he lent £50,000 to a client who gave him as collateral the famous beryl coronet. He carried it in Streatham, where he lives with his son, Arthur, and his niece, Mary. Arthur, under the influence of Sir George Burnwell asked in vain his father a large sum of money to pay off some gambling debts. Woke up in the middle of the night by strange noises, Mr. Holder finds his son in his desk, holding the coronet which is twisted and three beryl are missing. Arthur is arrested immediately. Holmes inspects the Holder's house and deduces that the coronet has been twisted out of the house. Holmes asks £4,000 to Mr. Holder and successes to find the three missing stones. According to footprints in the garden, Holmes deduces that Mary met Sir George Burnwell and she gave him the coronet while Arthur has surprised them and tried to get the coronet back by pulling it from the hands of Sir George. To avoid trouble for Mary, Arthur accepted to be accused of stealing. Holmes had found the three stones in a pawnbroker and bought them £3,000 plus £1,000 as a reward.

The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches
Miss Violet Hunter seeks advice from Holmes about his commitment as governess at The Copper Beeches, a house near Winchester. His employer Jephro Rucastle, offered her very high wages but ask strange requirements: having her hair cut and wearing a specific dress. She refused at first but Mr. Rucastle offered even more money. Holmes promises to help if the need arises and Violet accepts the job. A few days later, Holmes receives a telegram from Miss Hunter who asks him to come quickly to Winchester. She says the Rucastle's elder daughter, Alice, is said to have travelled to Philadelphia because of a dislike of her stepmother, Mrs. Rucastle. Violet cut her hair and was invited to sit, wearing an electric blue dress in front of a window. When she saw a man watching from afar through the window, the order was given to her to make him a sign to leave out. On another day, she realized with horror that a person was kidnapped in a secret room. Holmes concluded that Violet is used to play the role of Alice Rucastle and the man who observe from outside is Alice's fiancé, Mr. Fowler. Holmes, Watson enter the house, taking advantage of the absence of Mr. Rucastle and find the secret room empty. But Mr. Rucastle arrives and launch his hungry dog ​​at their heels. Unfortunately, the dog turns against him and seriously injured his master. Watson kills the dog in time to prevent the death of Rucastle. They then learn that Mr. Fowler had just liberate Alice from her parents. The latter locked up her to have Fowler believe she was gone and for he stops to woo her.

Character Analysis
A variety of characters are presented in the stories. In some cases, Holmes works with nobles and royalty, and in others, with bank clerks and vagabonds. The settings range from the English countryside to the wharves on the Thames to extravagant manors. In all, the reader gains an appreciation for the scenes of the time.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson make a great crime-solving team. Holmes is a character whom readers will enjoy reading about, as his often casual demeanor is contrasted by his intensity when he is hot on the trail of a case. Watson also is interesting because he is good-natured and supportive to his friend.

Sherlock Holmes – the most famous detective in literature. Sherlock Holmes is a man of indeterminate age, somewhere in his 40’s, slim with sharp eyes. He began as a detective while in school and continued through adulthood. He is an eccentric with a far reaching education. He is a master at chemistry, cryptography, philosophy, astronomy, law, politics, geology, etc. Sherlock is also a champion boxer and swordsmen. His use of firearms is astounding. His analytical reasoning solves cases, but his disregard of the accepted laws means the authorities don’t always know he’s solved them.

Dr. John Watson – a medical doctor and friend of Sherlock Holmes. He served in the Anglo-Afghan War where he was wounded. When he first arrived in London, he took a room with Sherlock at 221 B Baker St., but during these stories he is married and just assists Sherlock on his cases. He writes Sherlock’s stories and publishes them, which has boosted Sherlock’s fame. Watson is continually amazed by Sherlock’s skills of deduction. He is often called upon by Sherlock for his medical skills and to bring his gun along. Watson is a crack shot. His character is the one that moves the story along by asking the right questions.

Inspector Lestrade – A detective with Scotland Yard. They think he is the best detective at Scotland Yard because Sherlock allows him to take credit for his discoveries. He is a regular visitor to Baker St. and often shares stories of his cases with Sherlock. Although, Sherlock has little regard for policemen, he does think Lestrade is the best. Although, at times, his speech is a bit rustic, he his well educated and dresses impeccably. As a character his job is to make Sherlock seem even smarter. Representing the above average detectives of Scotland Yard, he still falls grossly short of Sherlock. But, he looks at Sherlock like he’s a resource and Lestrade is not afraid to use him.

Irene Adler – although used quite often in movies, television, and so forth, as a love interest of Sherlock Holmes. She really wasn’t. She only appears in ‘Scandal in Bohemia’, and gets married the first time he sees her. But, she is exceptionally beautiful and outwits Sherlock, which few can do. She sees through his best disguises. Irene was a opera singer who had had an affair with the King of Bohemia. The king hires Sherlock to retrieve a picture from her. But, Sherlock not only doesn’t get the picture, he gets a note from her instead and she sails away. From then on, Sherlock only refers to her as “The Woman”. Not a love interest, but a worthy adversary.

Violet Hunter – the one woman Watson thought might be a romantic relationship for Sherlock. She was a pretty girl. A governess. When she comes to him for advice, Sherlock is kind and tells her to let him know if she needs him. Later he runs to her rescue, bringing Watson along. Sherlock seems to find her competent, but, mostly falls in love with her case. Once it is solved, his interest in her wanes. She goes on to be a successful principal in a girl’s school.

Lessons from the novel:
  1. Train yourself to see what others don’t.
  2. The little things are often the most important.
  3. Do not rely on general impressions, also concentrate on the details.
  4. Practice shifting your point of view, you may be surprised that it’s pointing you in an entirely new direction.
  5. Before making a decision, look at all the facts that present themselves.
  6. After you have gathered the information needed to solve a problem or make a decision, rearrange the facts and information. Look at it from many different perspectives. If you find that you have insufficient facts and information, it’s time to gather more — or perhaps make some assumptions.
  7. It’s better to acquire wisdom late, than never to acquire it at all.