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The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes

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John Murray, London, 1962
(314 pages)
(first published in 1954)

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.
We have all been tantalised by Dr Watson's references to cases to which he referred by name but never recorded - for instance, the Black Baronet, the Wax Gamblers, the Abbas Ruby, Foulkes Rath, the Deptford Horror, etc. The twelve stories in this volume are based on these hints. The plots are new but the stories are faithful to the originals both in construction and in texture. Some have been written by the son of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and that master of detective fiction, John Dickson Carr, in collaboration, and some by each separately.
The 'Exploits' were conceived with the single desire of producing stories of the old vintage: of re-creating those moments of true delight when the approaching step of a new client sets the reader agog with the knowledge that the game is once more afoot and the two friends are ready to exchange their celebrated and, by now, internationally idiomatic remarks.

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.

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sherlock holmes