I've often encountered lists of the best Sherlock Holmes stories, compiled by fans of Holmes, and even by Arthur Conan Doyle himself. In fact, in 1927 the Strand Magazine published ACD's list of his twelve favorite Sherlock Holmes tales. It looked like this:
Not surprisingly, I've never seen a list of the worst Sherlock Holmes stories (or at least, a list of readers' least favorite stories). Let's not pretend that all of the canonical Holmes stories are of equal quality. Many readers and scholars seem to believe that, by the time he wrote some of the stories in His Last Bow and The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle was really getting tired of the character, and it began to show in his work. Be that as it may, a Google search for "worst sherlock holmes stories" failed to turn up any lists of worst stories. It did, however, find several lists of worst adaptations, worst actors, etc., one of which I have included below for your entertainment and edification:
A Study in Error: the Ten Worst Sherlock Holmes (from www.shadowlocked.com)
By this list, at least, we may deduce that the 1970s may have been a decade in which it was a particularly egregious idea to make a Sherlock Holmes film. But my point is this: while Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts have no inhibitions about critiquing adaptations of the detective and the stories in which he appeared, they seem to be considerably more reluctant to critique the canon itself.
So my question for readers is: which Sherlock Holmes stories are your least favorite? Feel free to comment on this post with your list, be it top five, top ten, or maybe just a couple that you don't particularly enjoy. Or...let me know if I am spouting heresy here. Perhaps you think that all of the stories are equally brilliant? I shall be endeavoring in the near future to come up with a "worst" list of my own. The game is afoot...I look forward to hearing from you.
I'm a stay-at-home dad, and Director of Music Ministries at a United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN. And a longtime fan of Sherlock Holmes.