All 9 Sherlock Holmes Books in Order

Set in the atmospheric, lamplit fog of Victorian London, Arthur Conan Doyle’s series has captivated readers since the late nineteenth century, but what is the best way to read all the Sherlock Holmes books in order?

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most well-known and beloved fictional detectives in literary history. Living in the famous 221B Baker Street flat in London, Holmes is renowned for his unparalleled skill in observation, forensics, and deduction. The remarkable character first appeared in Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1887 novel A Study in Scarlet, originally published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual.

‘My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.’

—The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Between 1887 and 1927, Conan Doyle produced four novels and 56 short stories, collated into five collections, that form the Sherlock Holmes series. Conan Doyle continued to expand the Holmes universe for 40 years, and the volumes weren’t published chronologically. The best order in which to read the series is widely debated, and it can be difficult to read them linearly, with many of the short story collections featuring tales from different points in the timeline, meaning the publication order and chronological order of the stories differ.

Sherlock Holmes Publication Order:

  • A Study in Scarlet (1887)
  • The Sign of Four (1890)
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905)
  • The Valley of Fear (1915)
  • His Last Bow (1917)
  • The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927)

Sherlock Holmes Chronological Order:

  • A Study in Scarlet
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Valley of Fear
  • The Sign of Four
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
  • His Last Bow

Sherlock Holmes Books in Order

To save your confusion and give you the best reading experience of the Holmes series, we’ve taken both the publication and chronological order into account and formed what we believe to be the most effective list of the Sherlock Holmes books in order. Discover our list of all nine volumes below.

Starting off easy, A Study in Scarlet is undeniably the first instalment in the Sherlock Holmes series. The novel marks the beginning of many illustrious adventures for Holmes and Doctor Watson. 

Returning from service in Afghanistan, Watson is wounded and searching for somewhere to live. He takes up residence in Holmes’ 221B Baker Street flat and is soon embarking on a series of mysterious escapades. Accompanying the amateur detective to the scene of a bloody crime, Watson is horrified and baffled by the dead body that shows no sign of violence. But Holmes already has a theory forming…

Delving a little deeper into the detective’s mind and his methods of deduction, this short story collection features two of Conan Doyle’s favourite Holmes stories: ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band’ and ‘The Red-Headed League’.

The 12 short stories featured in this volume immerse the reader in the smoky rooms shared by Holmes and Watson. Each tale highlights the famous detective’s remarkable skill and methods, and the volume is the perfect follow-up to A Study in Scarlet.

‘There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.’

—The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A tangled web of missing fathers, curious deaths, and cursed treasure, the next novel on our list takes a closer look at the darker side of Holmes.

Thick fog swirls through London, winding its way down Baker Street, where a cocaine-dazed Holmes awaits a new case. When a beautiful young woman, Mary Morstan, presents the sleuthing duo with two seemingly unrelated cases, all three work together to solve a decade-long mystery. 

Commonly thought to be the best Sherlock Holmes book, The Hound of the Baskervilles is among the greatest crime novels ever written. The book features the wild Devonshire moors, a phantom hound, and a centuries-old familial curse.

Holmes and Watson are investigating the sudden death of Sir Charles Baskerville and must rely on their rationality to solve what appears to be a case of supernatural interference. Distracted by another case, Holmes sends Watson alone to Dartmoor to protect the Baskerville heir from the same ghastly fate as Sir Charles. But the complex mystery only seems to get more confusing as Watson investigates. Could paranormal activity really be behind this puzzling case? And will Holmes appear in time to save Watson and the Baskerville heir?

The Valley of Fear features the heinous schemes of Professor James Moriarty, Holmes’ arch nemesis, for the first time. 

After receiving a pseudonymous cypher from one of Moriarty’s henchmen, Holmes and Watson must unravel the mysterious murder of a country gentleman. The puzzling case gives the detective the perfect opportunity to demonstrate his skills in observation, forensics, and deduction. This electrifying novel features themes of ethical ambiguity and makes political commentary on terrorist activity.

This collection of 12 short stories culminates in the famous ‘The Final Problem’, which caused much uproar and controversy among the fictional detective’s loyal fans when it was first published in The Strand Magazine

Featuring famous characters such as Holmes’ brother, Mycroft, and the evil Professor Moriarty, this volume comes to a head with an epic battle between Holmes and his most formidable enemy.

Following a decade-length Sherlock Holmes hiatus, this collection of 13 short stories was the long-awaited return of the pipe-smoking detective.

After being presumed dead for three years, Holmes returns to reunite with Watson. The sleuthing duo immediately embark on a tantalising series of adventures. Kicking the string of mysteries off with a locked-room murder, Holmes and Watson must solve a seemingly unsolvable case.

These stand-alone short stories could be read at any stage of this list, but one small detail settles the volume in seventh place. ‘The Adventure of the Illustrious Client’ refers to the death of a character who passed away in an earlier installment of the series. So if you want to avoid a major spoiler early on, this is definitely the best placement for The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Published 40 years after the first Sherlock Holmes book, this collection deviates from Conan Doyle’s usual style and Watson’s reliable narration, and features two stories narrated by Holmes himself.

‘I am not the law, but I represent justice so far as my feeble powers go.’

—The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

The final book in the Sherlock Holmes chronology is His Last Bow. Despite having the perfect title for a series finale, many Sherlockians choose a different volume (most commonly The Hound of the Baskervilles) to complete reading the series with because the last story in this collection is an espionage tale set on the precipice of the First World War.  

Featuring seven tales from Holmes and Watson’s escapades, this volume includes a preface from the detective’s loyal companion updating the reader on Holmes’ health and whereabouts. The short stories see the famous duo working together to solve a series of bizarre and mysterious cases, culminating in a third-person spy narrative chronicling Holmes’ contribution to the war effort, ‘His Last Bow: The War Service of Sherlock Holmes’. We believe this is the perfect volume to complete our recommended reading order because the final story sees Holmes come out of retirement for one last adventure. 

Over a century since Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance, the iconic character has become a cultural touchstone. Inspiring generations of fans, filmmakers, and writers, the detective has made an ineradicable mark not only on the literary world but wider pop culture and Conan Doyle’s literary influence will continue to captivate for many decades to come.

‘My dear fellow, (…) life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.’

—The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1859. It was between 1876 and 1881, while studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh, that he began writing short stories. In 1887, Conan Doyle’s first significant work, A Study in Scarlet, introduced Sherlock Holmes, the detective that was to eventually make Conan Doyle’s reputation.

Holmes went on to feature in 56 short stories and four novels, cementing Conan Doyle’s reputation as the most famous crime writer of all time. Aside from his fiction, Conan Doyle was also a passionate political campaigner and received a knighthood in 1902.

In his later years, following the death of his son in the First World War, Conan Doyle became deeply interested in spiritualism. He produced several works on the occult and engaged in a very public friendship and falling out with the American magician Harry Houdini. He died of a heart attack while living in East Sussex in 1930, aged 71.