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Elementary, my dear Watson!
Who is Sherlock Holmes?
If you don’t know the answer to that question, you’re really young or you spent your life in a coma. Maybe you’re from another universe! It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know the world’s most famous consulting detective.
In the vein of Edgar Allan Poe’s detective C. Auguste Dupin (from 1841 short story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is an exceptional detective who can be can be dispassionate and cold, but always willing to face a new challenging mystery, ready to use his extremely logical mind, his deductive powers and his large knowledge of forensic science. He is an eccentric who avoids casual company, except for that of his friend and biographer Dr. John H. Watson.
They famously live at 221B Baker Street, London, during the Victorian or Edwardian eras, between about 1880 and 1914.
Sherlock Holmes made his first appearances in print in 1887’s A Study in Scarlet. Since then, the characters appeared in four novels and 56 short stories from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and a lot (a lot!) more.
Many writers other than his creator wrote tales of the detective—novels, short stories, stage plays, movies, TV Shows, comic books, audio dramas, video games …—to the point of being listed by Guinness World Records as the most portrayed literary human character in film and television history.
Sherlock Holmes Books in Order:
There are so many Sherlock Holmes stories in the world that I will not list here anything that was not written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s only what’s canon.
The Sherlock Holmes Novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- A Study in Scarlet (1887) – Convalescing in London after a disastrous experience of war in Afghanistan, Dr. John Watson finds himself sharing rooms with his enigmatic new acquaintance, Sherlock Holmes. But their quiet bachelor life at 221B Baker Street is soon interrupted by the grisly discovery of a dead man in a grimy ‘ill-omened’ house in south-east London, his face contorted by an expression of horror and hatred such as Watson has never seen before. On the wall, the word rache – German for ‘revenge’ – is written in blood, yet there are no wounds on the victim or signs of a struggle. Watson’s head is in a whirl, but the formidable Holmes relishes this challenge to his deductive powers, and so begins their famous investigative partnership.
- The Sign of the Four (1890) – As a dense yellow fog swirls through the streets of London, a deep melancholy has descended on Sherlock Holmes, who sits in a cocaine-induced haze at 221B Baker Street. His mood is only lifted by a visit from a beautiful but distressed young woman – Mary Morstan, whose father vanished ten years before. Four years later she began to receive an exquisite gift every year: a large, lustrous pearl. Now she has had an intriguing invitation to meet her unknown benefactor and urges Holmes and Watson to accompany her. And in the ensuing investigation – which involves a wronged woman, a stolen hoard of Indian treasure, a wooden-legged ruffian, a helpful dog and a love affair – even the jaded Holmes is moved to exclaim, ‘Isn’t it gorgeous!’
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901–1902) – The death, quite suddenly, of Sir Charles Baskerville in mysterious circumstances is the trigger for one of the most extraordinary cases ever to challenge the brilliant analytical mind of Sherlock Holmes. As rumours of a legendary hound said to haunt the Baskerville family circulate, Holmes and Watson are asked to ensure the protection of Sir Charles’ only heir, Sir Henry – who has travelled all the way from America to reside at Baskerville Hall in Devon. And it is there, in an isolated mansion surrounded by mile after mile of wild moor, that Holmes and Watson come face to face with a terrifying evil that reaches out from centuries past . . .
- The Valley of Fear (1914–1915) – From the annals of Dr Watson comes this dark tale of Sherlock Holmes’ early encounter with Professor Moriarty. When Holmes and Watson receive a cipher from one of Moriarty’s henchmen warning of dark doings at a manor house, they find themselves on the trail of a murderer. Almost immediately, they are on their way to Sussex where they discover a corpse with its head blown to pieces. But all is not as it seems. For the origins of this case lie in America, and involve a Pinkerton’s man and the doings of a terrible and secretive lodge …
The Sherlock Holmes Short Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892) – Collects 12 stories published in The Strand between July 1891 and June 1892.
- “A Scandal in Bohemia” (June 1891)
- “The Red-Headed League” (August 1891)
- “A Case of Identity” (September 1891)
- “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” (October 1891)
- “The Five Orange Pips” (November 1891)
- “The Man with the Twisted Lip” (December 1891)
- “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” (January 1892)
- “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” (February 1892)
- “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb” (March 1892)
- “The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor” (April 1892)
- “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet” (May 1892)
- “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” (June 1892)
- The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894) – Collects 12 stories published in The Strand between December 1892 and December 1893.
- “The Adventure of Silver Blaze” (December 1892)
- “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” (January 1893)
- “The Adventure of the Yellow Face” (February 1893)
- “The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk” (March 1893)
- “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott” (April 1893)
- “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual” (May 1893)
- “The Adventure of the Reigate Squire” (June 1893)
- “The Adventure of the Crooked Man” (July 1893)
- “The Adventure of the Resident Patient” (August 1893)
- “The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter” (September 1893)
- “The Adventure of the Naval Treaty” (October–November 1893)
- “The Final Problem” (December 1893)
- The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905) – Collects 13 stories published in The Strand between October 1903 and December 1904.
- “The Adventure of the Empty House” (October 1903)
- “The Adventure of the Norwood Builder” (November 1903)
- “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” (December 1903)
- “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist” (January 1904)
- “The Adventure of the Priory School” (February 1904)
- “The Adventure of Black Peter” (March 1904)
- “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” (April 1904)
- “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons” (May 1904)
- “The Adventure of the Three Students” (June 1904)
- “The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez” (July 1904)
- “The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter” (August 1904)
- “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange” (September 1904)
- “The Adventure of the Second Stain” (December 1904)
- His Last Bow (1917) – Collects 7 stories published between 1908 and 1917. Also, some editions of His Last Bow have one more story, collecting “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” in this book rather than in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
- “The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge” (1908)
- “The Adventure of the Red Circle” (1911)
- “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans” (1908)
- “The Adventure of the Dying Detective” (1913)
- “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax” (1911)
- “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot” (1910)
- “His Last Bow. The War Service of Sherlock Holmes” (1917)
- The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927) – Collects 12 stories published between 1921 and 1927.
- “The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone” (1921)
- “The Problem of Thor Bridge” (1922)
- “The Adventure of the Creeping Man” (1923)
- “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire” (1924)
- “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs” (1924)
- “The Adventure of the Illustrious Client” (1924)
- “The Adventure of the Three Gables” (1926)
- “The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier” (1926)
- “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane” (1926)
- “The Adventure of the Retired Colourman” (1926)
- “The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger” (1927)
- “The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place” (1927)
The Sherlock Holmes Books in Chronological Order
- A Study in Scarlet (1887)
- The Sign of the Four (1890)
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
- The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901–1902)
- The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905)
- His Last Bow (1917)
- The Valley of Fear (1914–1915)
- The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927)
If you like Sherlock Holmes, you may also want to see our reading order for other classic sleuths like the Hercule Poirot series by Agatha Christie, or our guide to Ngaio Marsh’s Roderick Alleyn series.
Also, if you are interested in the other writers who put their own spin on Sherlock Holmes like Nancy Springer with the Enola Holmes series, Martin Davies with the Holmes and Hudson series, Sherry Thomas with The Lady Sherlock series, M.J. Trow with the Sholto Lestrade series, David Lagercrantz with the Rekke/Vargas series, Laurie R. King with the Mary Russell series, and more!