For more than a century the Holmes stories have held a strange, almost inexplicable grip on the popular imagination. They are intimately associated with late Victorian and Edwardian society, yet curiously timeless in their appeal. The characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, together with their housekeeper Mrs Hudson and their address at 221B Baker Street are as familiar today as when they made their first appearance in the late 1880s. The stories have been endlessly interpreted, adapted, and modernized, but still it is to Arthur Conan Doyle's originals that we return. This new selection of some of the best of them is designed to give readers a full sense of their world: the brooding fog of London, ruined heirs in creaking mansions, and hidden crimes in the farthest-flung corners of the British Empire. The stories take Holmes's career from its early days to its close, and include the book-length Sign of the Four. Barry McCrea's introduction investigates the currents that lie beneath their surface.