Arthur Conan Doyle was a Scottish physician and wrote the first of the Holmes mysteries, A Study in Scarlet, in 1886. Surprisingly, there were hardly any takers for this flamboyant and eccentric detective who solved mysteries with his sharp intelligence. Today, Holmes remains the most portrayed fictional detective ever, with Benedict Cumberbatch’s take the most recent one. Here are 5 of his best mysteries:

The Sign of the Four


India keeps popping up in the Sherlock Holmes mysteries every now and then – Watson was injured in the Afghan War, Holmes travels to Tibet after his ‘death’ at the Reichenbach Falls – but The Sign of the Four is the only story that is directly related to British rule in India. There’s the 1857 rebellion, a stolen treasure from the Agra Fort, a secret pact – and a dreadful villain to boot. The Sign of the Four is the quintessential British adventure story, and one cannot have read Holmes without reading this one.

The Hound of the Baskervilles


Perhaps the most popular Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles has been adapted multiple times for films and television. Mixing folk lore, the dreaded moors of Baskerville, and a giant beast from hell, the novel features Holmes at his best. We think the book can easily qualify as a Gothic horror too: the indelible scene of a man’s silhouette against the massive boulders of the moor, with an unworldly howl in the background, sets the tone. A superb story!

The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane

Most Holmes mysteries turn repetitive if you read enough of them. Not this one. An incredible mystery that reveals the depths of Holmes’ learning, this is a story that you can keep reading over and over, simply because of the solution to the mystery. Don’t expect any spoilers here, but just a clue: the murderer’s not what you think. Go figure!

The Adventure of the Empty House


As a mystery, this story does not stand out, but it’s one of the most famous Holmes stories, simply because he returns from the dead in this one. Doyle was growing tired of his character, and decided to ‘kill’ him in a fantastic duel at the Reichenbach Falls with his arch-nemesis Moriarty. But readers pestered Doyle for more Holmes stories, and he succumbed to the demand by bringing Holmes back in this story, where he reveals Holmes travelled to Tibet, Persia, and the Levant while he was supposedly dead. A must for Holmes fans!

The Red-Headed League


A man appears with a simple fact: he’s been selected to join a select club of red-haired people. The fact hides a more insidious mystery, which only Holmes has been able to figure out. One of the earlier Holmes mysteries, this is the ultimate lounge-chair mystery, where Holmes is not solving international conspiracies but a mystery in the heart of busy, commercial London.


All of Arthur Conan Doyle’s works, including the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, are available for free on Juggernaut here:


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