Don't let the title fool you. Sherlock Holmes for Dummies has something to offer everyone, whether you are a Sherlockian newbie or Baker Street Irregular.
Of course, it's a great introduction for your friend who has never cracked open a canonical caper. Authors Steven Doyle and David A. Crowder provide all the appropriate introductory stuff, from a survey of "villains, victims and damsels in distress" to a discussion of pastiches to a primer on the communities of Sherlockians.
In typical Dummies fashion, the book also has a fine set of "tens" -- ten unsolved mysteries, ten Sherlockian places to visit, ten books every Sherlockian should have, and ten notable quotes and passages.
Even as a 50-year Sherlock Holmes reader I picked up lots of nuggets of information. The biggest new insight for me, however, was how much different the later stories were in tone. I'd never noticed that before.
"In addition to great stories about Sherlock Holmes," Doyle and Crowder write, "the later stories have increased violence and more mature themes, and some are even hard-boiled detective tales, all showing that Sherlock Holmes changed with the times."
So did Watson! Here's the opening of "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs:"
It may have been a comedy, or it may have been a tragedy. It cost one man his reason, it cost me a blood-letting, and it cost yet another man the penalties of the law. Yet there was certainly an element of comedy. Well, you shall judge for yourselves.
That almost sounds like the Continental Op, Race Williams, or any of the early tough-guy sleuths. And I don't feel like a dummy for not noticing it before.