There are times when only certain types of books will do, when one is feeling in need of some consoling literary friend. At such times I often reach for Agatha Christie, although another old and comforting literary companion is Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.
This fairly slight volume contains eight fascinating Holmes stories, each of them a fairly decent length, utterly perfect to curl up with on a chilly December evening. I adore the character of Holmes, it matches exactly the mood that Doyle creates so perfectly in each story. The tension and fear that lies beneath a rarefied Englishness, the dense fogs that swirl outside the windows of Baker Street, while a great mind is figuring out the unfathomable. In my personal favourite 'The Adventure of the Devil's Foot' Holmes and Watson find themselves in a tiny Cornish village, where a woman has been apparently terrified to death, and two o her brothers left raving mad. In the final title story, a tale not narrated by Watson, the two old friends are brought back together some time after Holmes' retirement, it is August 1914. Although rather different in tome to the preceding stories it is a nice quiet finale.