Review: A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

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a-study-in-scarletTitle: A Study in Scarlet
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: Mystery
Source: Purchased (ebook)

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“A Study in Scarlet” is the first published story of one of the most famous literary detectives of all time, Sherlock Holmes. Here Dr. Watson, who has just returned from a war in Afghanistan, meets Sherlock Holmes for the first time when they become flat-mates at the famous 221 B Baker Street. In “A Study in Scarlet” Sherlock Holmes investigates a murder at Lauriston Gardens as Dr. Watson tags along with Holmes while narratively detailing his amazing deductive abilities.

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(This review originally appeared on my blog Winter Distractions on March 20, 2013)

For the past few years I’ve been very intrigued by Sherlock Holmes. I think it all started when I saw the Guy Ritchie movies with Robert Downy Jr., and then the infatuation only continued when I found out about the BBC show, Sherlock, with Bernard Cumberbatch. It seemed only inevitable that I would one day start reading the books to see where it all started.

Surprisingly, this first book in the Sherlock Holmes series was very accessible. Maybe it was because I love the TV show, but the TV show follows the first part of this book very closely, with the meeting of Watson and Sherlock — it was nice to revisit the dialogue I loved so much when watching the show!

Dare I say that I actually liked the character of Sherlock right off the bat? I know he’s painted to be very socially inept, egotistical, and just very unlikeable, but part of me can’t help but picture him with Robert Downy Jr.’s face or Bernard Cumberbatch’s face and smile … he’s almost like the Sheldon Cooper of the literary characters. You want to dislike him, but it really is impossible.

One thing I really enjoyed about the Sherlock character — aside from his amazing powers to take in EVERYTHING about a situation from one seemingly quick glance — is how he keeps things, or rather tosses things away, in his head. The idea that his brain is a cupboard and that he should only keep the essentials and forget all of the other things that just won’t assist him in his detective skills is a great way to think about it. Really, I read that part and wished I were able to do the same. The ability to recall things very specifically would be such a great asset to have.

I will admit that when the story went from part one, with Sherlock and Watson and their exciting journey to find the murderer, to part two, with the murderer’s recollection of Ferrier and the Mormons, I was a little confused. To go from the mind of Sherlock into the very dry and EXTENSIVE backstory of the murderer was a little jarring, and the story took almost a — dare I say? — boring turn. Really, in the end, all is explained as we enter London again, but it seemed almost unnecessary to go to such great lengths into that history. I would almost say that one could definitely skip over the whole flashback part and still get plenty of resolution by the end of the story.

This was a fun first read in this series and I full intend to try out more. I do hope that other books in the series aren’t so dry in their midsection, but I’m willing to try them out to see.

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2 thoughts on “Review: A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

  1. I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. My all time favorite portrayal of Holmes was by Jeremy Brett for Granada TV. I also think Robert Downey Jr and Basil Rathbone did well by the role. I am not familiar with the other actors you mentioned.

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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