Banner art by Chelsea Sprauer

Everyone’s heard of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, but how much do you really know about the residents of 221B Baker Street? In addition to four novellas (one of which we covered at GUY.Com), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote five collections of 56 short stories starring the world-famous detective and his faithful associate. We’ll be spotlighting 20 of them, to get you caught up just in time for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. All of these stories are public domain, so find a free copy online and read along!

A Scandal in Bohemia

Found in: “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”

The Case: This case concerns the hereditary King of Bohemia, who’s set to be married in three days. The only problem is that five years prior, he had an affair with a wily opera star named Irene Adler, who threatens to make the affair public and force the king’s hand into marriage. Holmes is hired to find and retrieve whatever proof Adler has.

The Solution: *Adler marries someone else, vanishes with her new husband, and leaves behind a promise that the royal wedding is safe from her.*

The many faces of Irene Adler

Impressions and Fingerprints: Irene Adler is like the Boba Fett of the Sherlock Holmes series. She only appears for this one story in the entire Holmes canon, and only as a supporting character, yet she’s appeared in countless spin-offs and adaptations since. Not only is Irene one of the precious few who have ever outwitted Holmes in such cavalier fashion, but she’s also one of the smartest and strongest female characters in the entire canon. As such, it should be no surprise that she left such a strong impression on Sherlock Holmes and on his fans.

The story is also very unique in that Holmes isn’t hired to solve a crime, but to help cover up a past misdeed. Still, the book serves as a great example of Holmes’ creativity, and it’s one of the series’ more entertaining instances of the master detective’s expertise in disguises. This story also provides a great dose of humor, with some fascinating glimpses into the mindset and moral code of Sherlock Holmes.

Is it still worth it? This is one of the most beloved stories in the entire series. It’s an essential read.

Part 20: “The Last Bow”
Part 19: “The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place”
Part 18: “The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone”
Part 17: “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange”
Part 16: “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”
Part 15: “The Adventure of the Empty House”
Part 14: “The Final Problem”
Part 13: “The Naval Treaty”
Part 12: “The Crooked Man”
Part 11: “The Reigate Puzzle”
Part 10: “The Greek Interpreter”
Part 9: “The Musgrave Ritual”
Part 8: “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”
Part 7: “Silver Blaze”
Part 6: “The Five Orange Pips”
Part 5: “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”
Part 4: “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”
Part 3: “A Case of Identity”
Part 2: “A Scandal in Bohemia”
Part 1: “The Red-Headed League”