Sherlock Holmes is one of those names that need no introduction because, for many, he is the best detective in universal history. Since he first appeared, many short stories and novels have been published since then. So where to start reading the best Sherlock Holmes books?

What do you think if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself explains it to you? In 1927 The Strand Magazine asked its readers to name the twelve best Sherlock Holmes stories. The most interesting thing is that they also asked Conan Doyle himself.

Although he would add seven more later, in the following list we will focus on those twelve stories that he considered the best .

1. The band of polka dots

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Number of pages : 78
  • Edition year : 2014

This first story, first published in 1892 , begins eight years after Watson and Holmes began living together. In this story Holmes takes up the case of the Roylott family of Stoke Moran.

It’s a bit of a sour morning for Sherlock, having been roused from bed much earlier than usual by the housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson, and a new client, Helen Stoner, arriving to request the detective’s services.

She explains that she lives with her stepfather, the last survivor of one of the oldest families in England, Dr. Grimesby Roylott. Her mother met Dr. Roylott in India when she and her sister Julia were only two years old, but she died in a rail accident on the way back to England.

Julia later dies in her room after getting engaged. Two years later Helen is the one who is engaged and now he fears for her life. The time has come for Holmes to solve the case as soon as possible.

2. The league of redheads

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Number of pages : 56
  • Edition year : 2013

The next book on the list was published a year before the previous one , in 1891, and the story takes place during 1890.

In this case, a redheaded businessman goes to Sherlock Holmes to present him with a particular case: “The league of redheads” to which he belonged has suddenly been dissolved.

Taking his case, our beloved detective will soon realize that one of the most dangerous men in London is behind the dissolution.

3. The mystery of the dancers and the Silver Star

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Number of pages : 128
  • Edition year : 2014

The third place on this list is shared by two stories, not because the author thought that both occupied the same place at the time he shared his list of favorites, but for reasons of the Spanish edition.

The first story is about The Mystery of the Dancers, a story where the detective will do everything possible to discover the author of some strange drawings that disturb his client’s wife.

The second is about the Silver Star, the case of a man suspected of murder because all the evidence points to him, while the real murderer is on the loose without anyone noticing him.

4. He final problem

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Number of pages : 37
  • Edition year : 2020

First published in 1893, The Final Problem recounts the direct confrontations between our detective and his main and most dangerous adversary , Professor James Moriarty, who has tried more than once to kill Holmes. One of the few stories that take the detective out of England.

Interestingly, when Arthur Conan Doyle wrote it, he thought it would be the last book he would do about Sherlock Holmes, as he wanted to focus on other stories.

5. Scandal in Bohemia

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Number of pages : 38
  • Edition year : 2017

In fifth place we have the first short story published by Arthur Conan Doyle about Sherlock Holmes.

One night, the detective is visited by a masked gentleman who introduces himself as Count von Kramm, an agent for a wealthy client, but Sherlock, displaying his incredible wit, quickly realizes that it is Wilhelm. von Gottsreich Sigismond Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein and Hereditary King of Bohemia.

The king admits his identity by removing his mask and then explains to Holmes what his problem is. It turns out that he is engaged to Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meningen, a Scandinavian princess, but his previous relationship with an opera singer named Irene Adler is a problem for him and he wants to make any evidence that they were together disappear.

Unfortunately, Irene is not seeking any type of financial compensation. The day after the meeting with the king, after agreeing to £1,000 to cover expenses, Sherlock meets with Watson to try to solve the case.

6. The Adventure of the Uninhabited House

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Number of pages : 32
  • Edition year : 2019

The Adventure of the Uninhabited House was the first Sherlock Holmes story after his supposed death at the Reichenbach Falls during his confrontation with Professor James Moriarty.

In this tale, Ronald Adair, a kind and gentle man, son of the Earl of Maynooth, has been killed with a shot to the head, which is strange considering he had no known enemy. With no witnesses or enemies to blame or even suspect, the participation of detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is once again necessary.

Originally published in 1903 in Collier’s magazine , the interesting thing behind this book, beyond being a story of such a famous character, is that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had no intention of writing it at first. He considered that the detective’s stories took up too much time that he wanted to dedicate to other types of stories.

But the character of Sherlock Holmes became so beloved and famous that the public did not accept his death and poor Conan Doyle received threatening letters to bring the detective back. Even some members of his own family pressured him to bring him back to life!

And so it was like ten years after the publication of The Final Problem (three in the chronology of the books) , the beloved and peculiar detective came back to life for a new case.

7. Five Orange Pips

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle

The Five Orange Pips was originally published within the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes collection in 1891 and within the chronology of the stories it occurs during 1887.

In this story that occupies the seventh position of the author’s favorites , we will meet John Openshaw and the worrying case that he presents to our well-known couple, Holmes and Watson.

John’s grandfather, after receiving a letter from India with five dried orange pips and the initials “KKK” on it, was found dead face down in a pool in his backyard. The police declare it a suicide, but John is not convinced, since his grandfather feared death. Some time later his father receives a similar letter and dies in an “accident.”

Two years after these events, John believed that the curse that afflicted his family had ended. An illusion that ended quickly when he received an envelope with the same content that his grandfather and his father received.

Now time is ticking as John’s life hangs in the balance. So the time has come for our beloved couple to solve the case.

8. The Adventure of the Second Spot

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Duration : 58 minutes
  • Edition year : 2020

This story, originally published in the The Return of Sherlock Holmes collection , has as a guest the country’s prime minister, who needs the detective’s help to recover a document of immense value that has been stolen.

The document, if released, could turn the whole of Europe upside down and even start a war. That’s why the British government, through the Prime Minister, asks Holmes to do what he does best… will he get it this time?

Only available in Audiobook.

9. Devil’s Foot

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Number of pages : 64
  • Edition year : 2017

In ninth position we have the short story The Devil’s Foot , originally published in The Strand Magazine and later in the collection His Last Bow .

In the small village of Tredannick Wartha, the body of the young Brenda Tregennis appears along with her brothers Owen and George. As expected due to the strangeness of the case, Holmes takes charge of the investigation, but everything gets complicated when the main suspect in the murder is found dead in similar circumstances.

It only remains to ask, who really is the murderer?

10. The Priory School Adventure

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Number of pages : 45
  • Edition year : 2019

Despite its recent foundation, Priory College is one of the most reputable and the most exclusive schools in England . When the young Lord Saltire, the only son of the Duke of Holdernesse, disappears, the doctor and founder of the school goes to Baker Street to request Holmes’ help.

Motivated in no small part by the £6,000 he paid the duke to search for his heir and, incidentally, his missing German teacher, Sherlock visits the elegant college in search of clues.

A new case full of guilt, revenge and ambition for the famous detective.

11. The Musgrave Ritual

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Number of pages : 34
  • Edition year : 2020

This story begins when Watson finds out something about Holmes’s past life . When she is about to clean his apartment with great regret, Watson thinks of asking her about his first cases, and that is how they begin to talk about the case of The Musgrave Ritual.

This case is only the third Holmes has received since opening his practice and it occurs while he was still living on Montagne Street. While the detective is busy waiting for a new client, an old college classmate comes to him for help.

The friend in question is Reginald Musgrave, a member of one of the largest families in England and the case is the disappearance of two family servants along with the theft of an old family secret.

12. The landowners of Reigate

  • Autor: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Number of pages : 32
  • Edition year : 2019

Finally, at the bottom of this selection courtesy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, we have The Squires of Reigate , originally published in 1893.

In the spring of 1887, Watson must travel to France to help his friend Sherlock Holmes, who is sick from exhaustion in a Lyon hotel. Back in London, Watson accepts Colonel Hayter’s offer and the two friends move into the Colonel’s house in the country. Site where Holmes can quickly recover his strength.

And in order not to lose the habit, during his stay at the country house Sherlock will have to solve a riddle that involves a robbery, a murder and a torn piece of paper as the only clue.

And so we end with the best Sherlock Holmes books !