The most recommended Sherlock Holmes books

Who picked these books? Meet our 141 experts.

141 authors created a book list connected to Sherlock Holmes, and here are their favorite Sherlock Holmes books.
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What type of Sherlock Holmes book?


Book cover of The Sign of Four

Jonathan Whitelaw Author Of The Bingo Hall Detectives

From my list on sleuths who aren't cops.

Who am I?

I’ve always been besotted with crime fiction. As a journalist in Scotland, I got to experience real-life crime on a daily basis. And the world of cozy crime fiction became a very valuable, indispensable escape for me. So, when it came to coming up with my characters for The Bingo Hall Detectives, I knew that I had to create a cast, a setting, a mystery even, that would take me out of the relentlessness of the real world and into the confines of a bloody good read. And I’m so glad I did. The Bingo Hall Detectives series is very dear to me and I’m very lucky to be able to bring it to readers. 

Jonathan's book list on sleuths who aren't cops

Jonathan Whitelaw Why did Jonathan love this book?

I know it’s a bit of a cheat to have Sherlock Holmes here as he’s one of, if not the most famous detective in all of fiction.

However, he’s not an official cop so I’m claiming him for my list.

I remember being gifted a complete works of ACD when I was around 14 for a birthday. And I absolutely adored it from the off.

Like so many other crime and mystery writers, the Sherlock Holmes stories have been a constant, a mainstay throughout my career.

The Sign of Four is the second adventure with Holmes and Watson. And I recently re-read it for the Bloody Scotland Book Club.

It’s remarkable how well it’s aged, despite being over 100 years old. The tropes, style, and attention to forensic detail that ACD shows off are still used in crime fiction today. A truly wonderful masterpiece. 

By Arthur Conan Doyle,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Sign of Four as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a dense yellow fog swirls through the streets of London, a deep melancholy has descended on Sherlock Holmes, who sits in a cocaine-induced haze at 221B Baker Street. His mood is only lifted by a visit from a beautiful but distressed young woman - Mary Morstan, whose father vanished ten years before. Four years later she began to receive an exquisite gift every year: a large, lustrous pearl. Now she has had an intriguing invitation to meet her unknown benefactor and urges Holmes and Watson to accompany her. And in the ensuing investigation - which involves a wronged woman,…

Book cover of Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery

Sybil Johnson Author Of Brush Up On Murder

From Sybil's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Writer Lifelong learner Decorative painter Reader Puzzle fan

Sybil's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Sybil Johnson Why did Sybil love this book?

When I first heard about the Sherlock Holmes in Minnesota series, I was not only intrigued, but also curious to see how Holmes and Watson would do in a very different environment. I have to say they did very well.

I enjoyed this book partly because I like stories featuring Holmes and partly because it weaves a fictional mystery around a real event, the discovery of a rune stone in a field in Minnesota in the late 1800s. I’ve been to the museum dedicated to the Kensington Rune Stone and read about the controversy.

It was interesting to see how the author married fiction with reality. It was a fun read that I think most Sherlock fans will enjoy.

By Larry Millett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sherlock Holmes is bored between cases at 221B Baker Street. So when King Oskar II of Sweden-who has heard of the discovery of the Kensington Rune Stone by a farmer in Minnesota-asks to engage his services, Holmes jumps at the chance to decipher the runes and determine whether the find is real or a hoax. With Dr. John H. Watson by his side, faithfully recording every detail, Holmes makes his way to Minnesota for a third time. But, in the first of many strange and unfortunate coincidences, the farmer who found the mysterious stone is murdered, and the stone itself…

Book cover of Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner

E.J. Wagner Author Of The Science of Sherlock Holmes: From Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear, the Real Forensics Behind the Great Detective's Greatest Cases

From my list on the beginning of crime.

Who am I?

I’m a crime historian and storyteller. I study old crimes, particularly those of scientific interest, and present my findings in public presentations. Sometimes I write about them- in the NY Times, Smithsonian, Lancet, Ellery Queen. I’ve researched in autopsy suites, crumbling archives, and crime labs. I was the founder and moderator of the annual Forensic Forum at Stony Brook University. I’ve consulted on criminal matters for PBS, BBC, and commercial stations. I am fascinated by ancient crime because so much great literature derives from it - the sadly dysfunctional Oedipus family, the fraternal dispute between Cain and Abel- the unhappy Borden family of Fall River. All grist for my mill.

E.J.'s book list on the beginning of crime

E.J. Wagner Why did E.J. love this book?

Before the Metropolitan Police (popularly known as Scotland Yard) existed, the Bow Street Runners were in charge of criminal investigation in Britain. Henry Goddard, the brilliant and incisive Runner, employed Sherlockian techniques years before the first Sherlock Holmes story was published. In later years, as a private detective, he continued to investigate and solve famous and complex crimes-He traveled widely, pursuing suspects through the Middle East, Europe, and Australia all of which he vividly describes.

In his old age, he dictated these memoirs, which give us a detailed account of his methods, and how he found "The Man With the Hidden Limp" and how he proved "The Butler Really Did It." It also makes clear how many errors of fact crept into later accounts of these famous crimes. Anyone with an interest in early criminal history will find this fascinating.

By Henry Goddard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the Regency and early Victorian eras, Henry Goddard, one of the last of the Bow Street Runners, chased criminals in London and through out the Kingdom, and around the globe; to France, Australia, New York, the Wild West; and made private enquiries for the King of England.
Born in 1800 in London, he was employed at Bow Street in London as a Patrol Constable from 1824 until he was promoted to be a Runner in 1827 and he remained a Runner until the Bow Street Runners were disbanded in 1839, and he became a private detective.
He wrote his…

Book cover of Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows

John Haas Author Of Cults of Death and Madness

From my list on Lovecraftian fiction you might have missed.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading Lovecraft, and those inspired by him, since I was in high school. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that there could be a whole world just outside of sight that we never see, and once we do see we can never un-see. After I’d been writing for a few years a friend of mine suggested/demanded I write a story for him inspired by Lovecraft’s world. Mostly I started it to satisfy him but once the jar was open it all spilled out. I wove in real elements from history, including historical figures. This story ended up winning a major award, but there was still so much more to tell.

John's book list on Lovecraftian fiction you might have missed

John Haas Why did John love this book?

The first of Lovegrove’s Cthulhu Casebooks series. This was my introduction to the idea of a mash-up between classic and modern stories.

In Shadwell Shadows we see the brilliant Holmes and loyal Watson that everyone is familiar with, but Lovegrove takes the characters and shakes up their worlds.

He takes their documented histories and adds new, darker elements among the old. These are the hidden stories which Watson could never commit to paper for fear of what they would do to humanity.

What if, while pursuing Doctor Moriarity, Holmes and Watson were actually on the trail of something much older and more evil.

By James Lovegrove,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is the autumn of 1880, and Dr John Watson has just returned from Afghanistan. Badly injured and desperate to forget a nightmarish expedition that left him doubting his sanity, Watson is close to destitution when he meets the extraordinary Sherlock Holmes, who is investigating a series of deaths in the Shadwell district of London. Several bodies have been found, the victims appearing to have starved to death over the course of several weeks, and yet they were reported alive and well mere days before. Moreover, there are disturbing reports of creeping shadows that inspire dread in any who stray…

Book cover of Fer-de-lance

Ernest Hebert Author Of Whirlybird Island

From my list on creating empathy and self-knowledge in readers.

Who am I?

For me, writing novels is an attempt in metaphor to clear the ledger of unfinished business in my crazy, contradictory, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and always messy mind. All the books I've written have long and often intensely personal backstories. All of us live two lives, a life in the world of things, relationships, and time (needs), and a life in the world we create in our minds (wants). When needs and wants come into conflict we have the elements that make a novel. I see my job as a novelist to provide an exciting story and plot that carries a reader through the material world.

Ernest's book list on creating empathy and self-knowledge in readers

Ernest Hebert Why did Ernest love this book?

In 1967 I worked for seven months at DePaul psychiatric hospital in New Orleans, LA as an attendant during the 11 pm to 7 am shift. During that time period, there was often nothing to do but stay awake, because schizophrenics, like everybody else, usually sleep through the night. There was a tiny library in the "Seton Unit" section of the hospital where I worked that featured a dozen or more Nero Wolfe murder mysteries by Rex Stout. I read them all, some of them more than once. The books brought me back to my late childhood years when I read all of the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories. What fascinated me about both these sets of books later when I became a writer was the relationships between the storytellers (John Watson/Archie Goodwin) and the larger-than-life detectives (Sherlock Holmes/Nero Wolfe). They acted like bickering but loving married couples while…

By Rex Stout,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fer-de-lance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As any herpetologist will tell you, the fer-de-lance is among the most dreaded snakes known to man.  When someone makes a present of one to Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin knows he's getting dreadully close to solving the devilishly clever murders of an immigrant and a college president.  As for Wolfe, he's playing snake charmer in a case with more twists than an anaconda -- whistling a seductive tune he hopes will catch a killer who's still got poison in his heart.

Book cover of The Thinking Machine

Miles A. Maxwell Author Of Loss Of Reason

From my list on action adventure for Individualist.

Who am I?

I love these books because they hold thinking as the highest virtue, and they value the rights of the individual. I like to challenge the norm. These stories seek to preserve and enhance human life through art and science.

Miles' book list on action adventure for Individualist

Miles A. Maxwell Why did Miles love this book?

Based on a simple question: “Can a man escape from a high-security prison cell using only his mind?” The Problem of Cell 13 is everyone’s favorite. The story offers a convincing answer and a mind-bending ending you just don’t see coming.

This collection of short stories demonstrates how someone can solve even the most impossible mysteries if one harnesses the formidable power of one’s mind. As I walk mentally side-by-side with Futrelle’s protagonist, Professor Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen, I find myself consistently unable to solve each puzzle first.

Unfortunately, Futrelle died young on the Titanic, taking several new stories down with him. At least we can still enjoy what he left behind, one of the greatest collections of mysteries you’ll find anywhere.

By Jacques Futrelle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Thinking Machine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This irascible genius, this diminutive egghead scientist, known to the world as “The Thinking Machine,” is no less than the newly rediscovered literary link between Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe: Professor Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen, who—with only the power of ratiocination—unravels problems of outrageous criminous activity in dazzlingly impossible settings. He can escape from the inescapable death-row “Cell 13.” He can fathom why the young woman chopped off her own finger. He can solve the anomaly of the phone that could not speak. These twenty-three Edwardian-era adventures prove (as The Thinking Machine reiterates) that “two and two make…

Book cover of Where the Truth Lies

Steven Jankowski Author Of Below the Line

From my list on noir crime with characters that aren’t detectives.

Who am I?

As a screenwriter I’ve always enjoyed noir stories, whether books or movies. Stories where the characters are not your squeaky-clean “good guys.” I like to see “ordinary” people; people who are flawed (like all of us), or maybe with a shady past, who are swayed or manipulated by dire circumstances into doing something they would not ordinarily do. I enjoy stories with unique, interesting characters that are not your run-of-the-mill private eyes, and whose moral compass might be a bit off. I particularly like stories where characters are forced to become investigators because of a situation they are thrust into, whether by accident or by their own dubious actions. 

Steven's book list on noir crime with characters that aren’t detectives

Steven Jankowski Why did Steven love this book?

Set in the seventies, a sexy female celebrity journalist sets out to find the reason for the break-up of a singing/comedy duo alá Lewis and Martin and uncovers a gruesome murder. Full of sex, drugs, and behind-the-scenes entertainment business debauchery, this story is told in a masterful way that is funny, frightful, suspenseful, and disturbing. A truly unique noir tale where no one comes away clean. Just how I like it. And written by my good friend and former employer, Rupert Holmes. The same guy that gave us “Escape, The Pina Colada Song” and the Broadway hit The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

By Rupert Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where the Truth Lies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


O’Connor, a vivacious, free-spirited young journalist known for her penetrating celebrity interviews, is bent on unearthing secrets long ago buried by the handsome showbiz team of singer Vince Collins and comic Lanny Morris. These two highly desirable men, once inseparable (and insatiable, where women were concerned), were driven apart by a bizarre and unexplained death in which one of them may have played the part of murderer. As the tart-tongued, eye-catching O’Connor ventures deeper into this unsolved mystery, she finds herself compromisingly coiled around both men, knowing more about them than they realize and less…

Book cover of The Holmes-Dracula File

Jason R. Richter Author Of LIFE in the 23rd Century

From my list on authors you probably haven’t heard of.

Who am I?

As a not well-known writer of science fiction, that grew up reading speculative fiction novels by not very well-known authors, I want to shine a light on the more obscure corners of my bookshelf. Neil Gaiman and Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Jordan get plenty of press. They don’t need any help. This is a list of authors that I don’t think enough people are talking about. And it’s a shame, because all of them have a lot of really interesting worlds to explore. Enjoy.   

Jason's book list on authors you probably haven’t heard of

Jason R. Richter Why did Jason love this book?

Fred Saberhagen is another author that wrote a lot of really great books but no one really talks about him. I was obsessed with Sherlock Holmes as a kid and was disappointed when I realized that I’d read all of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories. I found a beat up copy of The Holmes-Dracula File in a used bookstore and I was hooked. The book is as advertised, Sherlock Holmes and Count Dracula team up to solve a mystery. Just like Harry Harrison, Saberhagen also wrote a lot of books that cover the waterfront of speculative fiction. (If you want a good fantasy series The Book of Swords series is great.)  

By Fred Saberhagen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Holmes-Dracula File as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1887, London, Victoria’s Jubilee -- criminals threaten to release thousands of plague infested rats on the day of celebration. The extraordinary powers of the Count and sharp mind of the Master Detective team up to avert a catastrophic public disaster. (And, the reader discovers more than a deerstalker hat and an Invernes Cape in Holmes’ family closet.)

Book cover of A Siege of Bitterns

A.M. Potter Author Of Bay of Blood

From my list on Canadian detective and mysteries.

Who am I?

I write North Noir, detective fiction set in the Northeastern USA and Canada. I like mystery/detective stories told with descriptive flair, with clever twists and unforgettable protagonists. Why would you want to read my recommendations? I’ve read hundreds of mystery/detective novels, in all subgenres, from cozy to noir. I’ve been a book review editor, for all types of books. I don’t go for bent cops or over-the-top bloodbaths. If you like character-driven mystery/detective novels, try these five.

A.M.'s book list on Canadian detective and mysteries

A.M. Potter Why did A.M. love this book?

A Siege of Bitterns features an unusual protagonist: a reluctant detective. DI Domenic Jejeune is a Canadian transplanted to the UK, to premier birding country. Jejeune likes bird watching as much, if not more, than solving murders. He occasionally comes across as a tortured eccentric. One wonders how he can solve crimes. But he does. His odd individualism is reminiscent of famous fictional detectives like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. A Siege of Bitterns features a tangled bird’s nest of false starts and red herrings. Burrows doesn’t shy away from descriptive prose and yet the novel doesn’t lose momentum. It stays focused on the prize: the whodunit.

By Steve Burrows,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Siege of Bitterns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspector Domenic Jejeune's success has made him a poster boy for the U.K. police service. The problem is Jejeune doesn't really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds. Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain's premier birding country, Jejeune's two worlds collide when he investigates the grisly murder of a prominent ecological activist. His ambitious police superintendent foresees a blaze of welcome publicity, but she begins to have her doubts when Jejeune's most promising theory involves a feud over birdwatching lists. A second murder only complicates matters.…

Book cover of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Trevor P. Kwain Author Of The Wynnman and the Black Azalea

From my list on turning history upside down.

Who am I?

History is nearly always relegated to heavy tomes and stuffy museum rooms. Learning about our past seems no longer important, and we keep promoting it in such uncool and unsexy ways. I feel any of our histories, with either a capital or lower case ‘h’, whether focused on big world events or local life, deserve to be told in a special kind of way, with that sprinkle of “magic realism” only fiction authors can deliver. Alternative history, historical fiction, magic fabulism, they are the sides of the same dice creating new, different stories inspired by our collective memory of things that have happened. These books touch this topic so dear to me.

Trevor's book list on turning history upside down

Trevor P. Kwain Why did Trevor love this book?

Although not historical fiction per se, Sherlock Holmes is a strong product of his time. He embodies the revolutionary modernism of the late Victorian period and for this reason alone the famous fictional detective has become a real character himself embedded in history. The fact his home address half-exists in London makes him even more real. His stories were one of the sources to inspire me for the Wynnman. This idea of creating real characters in a real setting that share their way of thinking, their passions, their curious attitudes, without having to answer to the hard, crude boundaries of factual reality.

By Arthur Conan Doyle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

Is there a more enduring, legendary detective than Sherlock Holmes?
This quintessential collection includes many of the famous cases that made the legendary Sherlock Holmes one of fiction's most popular creations. Set against the foggy backdrop of London and the English countryside, each story unravels an exciting new mystery, from mistaken identity and ominous omens to counterfeit currency and jewellery theft. Including 'A Scandal in Bohemia', 'The Five Orange Pips', 'The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle', 'The Speckled Band' and 'The Final Problem', the collection follows Sherlock Holmes and John Watson on some of their most enjoyable cases.
First published…