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 Shoscombe Old Place

Found in: “The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes”

The Case: A lot of crazy things have been happening at Shoscombe Old Place. Its owner, the widow Lady Beatrice Falder, has suddenly taken to drink, and she’s stopped paying visits to her prized horse. Additionally, her brother Sir Robert Norberton gave away the spaniel that Beatrice loved like her own child. Oh, and Robert has bet so much money on the Shoscombe prize horse that he’ll be penniless if the horse doesn’t win. Last but not least, Robert keeps visiting the local crypt at night, and human remains were recently found in the furnace.

Deeply concerned, one of Robert’s employees brings Sherlock into this mess to figure out what’s going on.

The Solution: *Beatrice died of edema, and Robert stood to lose the estate – including the horse – if her death was made public. So he brought in an actor to impersonate Beatrice until the race was over.*

Impressions and Fingerprints: The short stories have been collected in orders that changed over time, and they were published in a non-linear fashion to begin with. As a result, the timeline of the Sherlock Holmes stories has grown very convoluted. For example, though this story takes place well before Sherlock’s retirement, it was the very last Sherlock Holmes story that Conan Doyle ever wrote.

On a different note, this story opens with additional, far less ambiguous proof of Watson’s gambling pastime (see also: “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”).

Is it still worth it? This may well be one of the greatest cases in the entire Holmes canon. It’s an extremely complex mystery with a great variety of disparate parts, yet Holmes provides a very simple solution to tie it all together. Definitely a must-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”