Sherlock Holmes: the complete novels and stories, volume II by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This is, I think, my third go through of this volume, as I’ve had to replace both volumes of my complete Holmes at least twice. This volume starts with The Hound of the Baskervilles, which was one of the top-selling Holmes novels and deservedly so. Holmes is at the top of his game here, and so is Doyle. The story, in which an ancient legend apparently comes back to life to first scare an old nobleman to death and then to menace his heir, is suspenseful and engaging, and despite its length contains no padding. And despite the fact that Holmes uses Watson as a stalking horse, his affection for the Doctor shines through in their interactions.
Sadly, the second story is The Valley of Fear, another novel in which, like A Study in Scarlet, most of the book isn’t Holmes solving the mystery but rather a long, boring flashback to a character we don’t care about doing stuff in America.
His Last Bow comes next, a collection of stories including the titular story in which Holmes and Watson come out of retirement one last time to tackle German spies in England in the days just before the First World War.
The final book, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is the last canonical Holmes stories, and opens with Doyle joking that Holmes is beginning to seem like one of those music acts that just keep doing farewell tours and never actually get around to retiring. This book does contain one of the rare “Holmes-narrated” stories, though.
Overall, if you like Holmes, you probably already have this, whether as part of the two-volume “Complete” or as the individual books. I recommend you pick it up if you haven’t already.
*Look, someone has to make these jokes, and I don’t see you doing it!