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!

The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

Found in: “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”

The Case: Miss Violet Hunter is offered a job as governess for £100 a year, but the job comes with several unusual demands. She has to cut her hair, she has to wear a certain dress, and she has to sit at a particular spot while her boss tells all manner of amusing stories. Also, she can’t go into a locked wing or she’ll be fed to a giant mastiff. Scared and confused, she goes to Baker Street.

The Solution: *Hunter has been unknowingly hired to impersonate a different young woman, to prevent a wedding and cover up a kidnapping.*

Impressions and Fingerprints: Sir Conan Doyle read hundreds of books to prepare for his medical and historical texts, but he did absolutely zero research for Sherlock Holmes. His mystery stories were written entirely for the money, and Doyle always resented them as distractions from what he considered more educational and important works. So, when Holmes opens this story by accusing Watson of sensationalizing their adventures together while glossing over the methods and logic used to solve the cases, it’s hard not to see that Doyle is using Sherlock as a proxy to ridicule his own work and those who read it. In fact, Holmes gets a lot of great dialogue here. This story contains such quotable lines as “Crime is common. Logic is rare.” and “Data! data! data! I can’t make bricks without clay.”

As for the actual mystery, it’s far better than it might appear at first blush. The solution turns out to be very complex, with some great challenges for Holmes and Watson both. Best of all, it’s topped with a bit of violence and some rather terrifying images.

Is it still worth it? It’s got an unusually well-developed client, a deceptively villainous culprit, and a very strange mystery, with some great moments from Sherlock to boot. Certainly worth a look.

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”