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Tower of Iron Will

All who enter the Tower regain 100 sanity points.

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Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die
Randall Munroe, James Foreman, K. Sekelsky, Camron Miller, John Chernega, David Michael Wharton, K.M. Lawrence, Jeffrey C. Wells, Vera Brosgol, Kit Yona, J. Jack Unrau, Jeff Stautz, Aaron Diaz, Matthew Bennardo, Yahtzee Croshaw, Douglas J. Lane, Brian Quinlan, Kate Beaton

Peak Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes -  Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes are the first two collections of Doyle's detective stories, often published together as they are in this volume. The combined collections are kind of peak Holmes as they include many the most famous stories, as well as the first appearances of Sherlock's brother Mycroft and his nemesis Professor Moriarty. There is also indications that Doyle was already getting tired of writing his most popular character, and in fact he tried to kill him off (spoilers for a story from the 1890's).

 

A typical Holmes story involves a character contacting either Holmes or Watson and then taking up about half the story with a narration of their bizarre or complex problem. Holmes then quickly resolves the case. He sometimes pretends the case has him baffled only to reveal later he solved it before the character finished their story. At least three stories involve people taking strange pointless jobs that turn out to be frauds intended to cover up a crime. Often a character will report inexplicable behavior from a family member, which again turns out to be covering up a past crime or a plot for a future crime.

 

Doyle's stories are genuinely entertaining, and the short story format keeps the pacing quick and prevents long digressions. My favorites are when Doyle goes a bit creepy and Gothic, such as in The Speckled Band and The Engineer's Thumb. I especially enjoy it when Doyle gives the reader enough information to figure out the mystery, such as in The Man with the Twisted Lip. Occasionally Doyle even dips into humor as in The Red-Headed League and The Blue Carbuncle. The humor tends to dry up in the later stories as writing Holmes seems to become less fun for Doyle and more of a chore.

 

For anyone interested in trying the original Sherlock Holmes material for the first time, this collection is the best place to start.