Sherlock Holmes is undoubtedly one of the most famous fictional detectives ever created. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character first appeared in A Study in Scarlet in 1887. Doyle went on to pen 56 short stories and 4 novels featuring the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes.
The iconic detective's popularity has never waned. Sherlock Holmes holds the Guinness World Record as the most portrayed literary human character in film and TV! There's just something about the world's first consulting detective that brings people back to Doyle's stories again and again. Are you interested in reading some of Doyle's work? Below, we dive into the 3 best Sherlock Holmes short stories you need to read today!
A Scandal in Bohemia has the distinction of being the first of Doyle's short stories to feature Sherlock Holmes.
Premise: A duke visits Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street. The man confesses that five years earlier he was in a secret relationship with a singer name Irene Adler. He is now engaged to a Scandinavian princess and worried that her family will call off the wedding if they learn of the impropriety. The duke wishes to recover a compromising photograph he gave to her as a memento but which she is now using to blackmail him.
Why you should read it: One of the best parts of this story is that it features a smart, strong female character. In every way she is Holmes' equal, and he in turn admires her intellect and resourcefulness (especially after she outwits him). Irene Adler is without a doubt one of the best secondary characters Doyle ever introduced into his work.
Premise: A distraught young woman seeks Holmes' help in solving the mysterious death of her sister. Her sister died just two years earlier, just before she was to be married, and her mysterious parting words were, "The speckled band." The young woman is now herself engaged to be married and has started hearing strange noises and seeing strange activities around Stoke Moran, the estate where she lives with her violent step-father. Afraid she, too, is going to die soon, the young woman seeks out Holmes' assistance.
Why you should read it: This is one of Doyle's most atmospheric short stories. Stoke Moran is partially in ruins and makes for an eerie setting for this classic locked room mystery. All the spookiest occurrences also happen in the middle of the night, which makes this Sherlock Holmes short story feel equal parts horror and mystery.
Batman and the Joker, Harry Potter and Voldemort...you can't have a hero without a great villain, right? Sherlock Holmes is no exception. Throughout the short stories there are hints of an enemy of huge proportions, but Professor Moriarty first makes his appearance in The Final Problem.
Premise: Holmes arrives at Dr. Watson's home in an agitated state. He's escaped three murder attempts that day after visiting with the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarity. During their interaction, Moriarty threatens Holmes to stop his pursuit of justice or else face a regrettable outcome. Holmes and Watson flee to Switzerland where Holmes encounters Moriarity at Reichenbach Falls. Watson sees the struggle from below and rushes up to the falls. He arrives too late. There only remain two sets of footprints indicating that the two men plummeted off the cliff into the fall and to their deaths.
Why you should read it: Because of the duel between two equally matched but opposing forces! Sherlock Holmes is often a morally grey character in his personal life, but there's never any doubt that he objectively seeks justice for every case he works on. It's also one of the very few times Holmes shows fear, and this helps the reader connect more with the character, and see both him and Moriarty in a human-like way.
Which one of these Sherlock Holmes short stories is your favorite? Tell us in the comments👇!
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