The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes
John Murray, London, 1962
The blurb on the back:
Not many characters in the world's fiction have waked out of their books with the same nonchalance, genius, personality and human foibles as Sherlock Holmes. With magnifying lens in hand and a highly personal originality of method when on the trail, he has caused his numberless admirers to forget the fiction and accept his own world of facts. He is an object of pilgrimage and devout speculation: his methods have been adopted by the police of the world: his life is almost as documented as one of his own case histories. And it is because of some uncompleted biographical data that these new stories have been written.
Those jacket notes really are a masterpiece - succinct, sharp and absolutely correct in every respect. There's really very little to add, save to lend my own voice to the chorus that has long proclaimed this collection a classic: in terms of quality, every one of the stories would happily occupy a place in the top third of the canon.
Compared with the works that have emerged since the 1950s, this is fairly reverential stuff - no tinkering with the mythology here, no new explanations of Mycroft or Moriarty, no characters wandering in from real life or from other fiction. What you get instead is a solid addition to the five original volumes.
Every home should have one.