This one isn’t like any the first Sherlock Holmes novels – for a start they were serialized short stories for the Strand magazine back in the day.
The fact that they’re serialized means that Conan Doyle doesn’t have a chance to get in to any depth in the stories, and a lot of detail is missing (in any Holmes adventure, the detail is always important).
Still, there are some nice touches, like the relationship between Holmes and Watson, but in the end it all feels a bit light. Every case is a bit too easy, simple even (for more on this, check out my review of a Scandal in Bohemia). Not much in the way of poison darts, one-legged murderers, or anything else that I’ve come to expect from a good Holmesian adventure.
Amongst it all, the Red Headed League sticks out like a sore thumb – genuinely surprising the reader with a different approach, and an ending that keeps you in the dark until the last page.
So, if you’re not after too much from your detective fiction – a short bed time read, or something that fits in with your commute – then this could be the one for you. Just don’t expect much in the way of depth. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes score highly on entertainment value, but not much else.
Still though, he keeps off the drugs while he’s solving those cases, eh?