The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes contains twelve unique narratives. It is recommended to read them in chronological order, but they can be read as independent stories. The first story is "A Scandal in Bohemia". In this story, the reader first meets the alluring (and cunning) Irene Adler, the closest Holmes will ever come to having a love interest. The next story in the novel is "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League", which involves a pawnbroker and thieves that have an affinity for digging tunnels. The third story is "A Case of Identity", followed by "The Boscombe Valley Mystery", "The Five Orange Pips", "The Man with the Twisted Lip", "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle", "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" (generally considered to be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's favorite of the collection), "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb", "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor", "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet", and finally "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches".
These stories range in length, but they are generally considered to be short stories. Some, such as "A Scandal in Bohemia", are much longer. The subject matter of each story varies greatly, but each one highlights a key mystery that Holmes miraculously unravels, no matter how daunting the task may seem. Throughout the course of the twelve stories, the reader progressively learns more about both Holmes and Watson. The stories deal with serious issues such as murder and drug abuse. Often, Holmes seems to be a questionable character, but his brilliance is never doubted. Dr. Watson provides an excellent foil for Sherlock Holmes, and the two highlight one another's strong suits as well as weaknesses. Holmes once said, "Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it in others."