Ten classic cases I’d like to see Sherlock investigate

Earlier this week in a blog post speculating about series 4 of Sherlock, I wondered: “what stories will they take inspiration from this time? Sherlock has now done its own very loose adaptation of three out of the four Holmes novels but only a handful of the short stories. That still leaves them an awful lot of material.” I thought it would be fun to produce my own wishlist and this is the result.

I’ve tried and largely succeeded in avoiding spoilers. However, there are a couple and I’ve flagged them up before they arise.

10. The Red Headed League


What it’s about

A man is recruited to do a mysteriously well paid and undemanding job by an organisation for promoting the interests of red headed people. Then it disappears.

Why I want to see it

I could see Moffat and Gatiss having a lot of fun with such a surreal premise.

9. The Problem of Thor Bridge


What it’s about

The wife of a notorious American magnate known as the “Gold King” is shot. The police suspect that the Governess of the house killed her in order to take her husband. The “Gold King” comes to Holmes and Watson to see if they can prove her innocence.

Why I want to see it

It’s not Conan Doyle’s best work by a long. However, it’s interesting because it is basically the closest he came to writing a conventional whodunit. And what do you know second rate Conan Doyle still trumps Agatha Christie!

8. The Beryl Coronet


What it’s about

A banker is given a massively valuable jewel as security for a loan. As he’s about to leave work he begins remembering stories of bank safes being broken into. So he takes the coronet home instead. You can probably guess what happens next.

Why I want to see it

It’s bot obvious from the description above but this combines some of Holmes best detective work with a good slab of family drama.

7. The Second Stain

second stain

What it’s about

No, not Holmes investigating the Lewinsky affair but him trying to solve the murder of a spy while also trying to recover a letter that threatens to plunge Europe into war.

Why I want to see it

This probably has the highest stakes of any adventure and it’s themes of geo-politics, espionage and grand alliances feel unfortunately contemporary.

6. The Solitary Cyclist

Solitary cyclist

What it’s about

Whenever a music teacher goes out cycling she is followed at a distance by a mysterious bearded figure on a bike.

Why I want to see it

One of the strengths of Sherlock has been its incorporation of modern technology into Victorian stories. Sadly there is probably is a story that could be updated to cover cyber stalking.

5. Wysteria Lodge


What it’s about

A man stays the night at the house of a Spanish acquitance. When he wakes up he finds his host and his staff have all vanished. On returning to London he discovers the police want to interview him about his host’s murder.

Why I want to see it

This is probably the most macabre and gothic story in the Holmes canon featuring voodoo rituals, a possible sighting of the Devil and an escaped war criminal. I’d love to see horror nerd Gatiss does with such grizzly material.

4. The Musgrave Ritual


What it’s about

A student Holmes investigates when a butler vanishes after taking a close interest in a riddle handed down by his master’s family.

Why I want to see it

With its theme of malevolent family secrets this story is in many ways a forerunner of the Hound of the Baskervilles and sits alongside it as one of the best.

It’s based around a riddle and as I’ve noted before Moffat seems to like word play.

Plus seeing Sherlock as a student would be pretty cool!

3. The Valley of Fear

Valley of Fear

What it’s about

An informant in Moriarty’s network leads Holmes to a countryside called Birlstone but not in time to prevent its American owner’s head being blown off. Holmes’ investigation begins to unravel a murderous vendetta leading back to the coal fields of Pennsylvania.

Why I want to see it

Well completism for a start. This is the only Holmes novel – as opposed to short story – that Sherlock has not tackled. To be honest, that’s probably because it’s the weakest of the four novels. However, that’s mostly because of the unfortunate way Conan Doyle structures it which could be fixed in an adaptation.

And despite that weakness it’s still an exciting story loaded with intrigue.

*Spoiler* Oh and if Moriarty is back then it’s probably best to cover one of the two stories he’s actually in.

2. The Blue Carbuncle

Blue Carbuncle

What it’s about

A stolen gem turns up inside a Christmas goose.

Why I want to see it

The next series may well air on Christmas day, which is when this story is set. And Sherlock has used scenes set at Christmas to great effect before: witness last series finale or Molly and Sherlock at the Baker Street Christmas party in series 2. There’s no way this wouldn’t make for an adorable episode.

1. The Speckled Band

Speckled band

What it’s about

A woman dies in mysterious circumstances in a strange room. Her final words were “the band! The speckled band!” Then her twin sister is made to move into the same room by their abusive father, Dr. Grimesby Roylott.

Why I want to see it

Well it’s a personal favourite of mine for starters!

It’s a phenomenal combination of detective and adventure story with a solution – that while it turns out it wouldn’t work in reality – is one of Conan Doyle’s most ingenious.

Though if you are scared of wild animals, Holmes and Watson’s confrontations with Dr Roylott’s menagerie of exotic animals may not be for you!



The pictures in this post are Sidney Paget‘s illustrations that accompanied the stories in the Strand magazine.

Wikisource has the text of all the Sherlock Holmes stories.


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