A Study In Scarlet

scarletTitle: A Study In Scarlet.

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle.

Summary: When Dr John Watson takes rooms in Baker Street with amateur detective Sherlock Holmes, he has no idea that he is about to enter a shadowy world of criminality and violence.
Accompanying Holmes to an ill-omened house in south London, Watson is startled to find a dead man whose face is contorted in a rictus of horror. There is no mark of violence on the body yet a single word is written on the wall in blood.
Dr Watson is as baffled as the police, but Holmes’s brilliant analytical skills soon uncover a trail of murder, revenge and lost love…

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: I had not read any Sherlock Holmes before, but was very much looking forward to reading this. I wasn’t disappointed. I was laughing and smiling constantly through the first several chapters.

Basically, Holmes is a delight. He is the perfect amount of egotistical, in exactly the same way Hercule Poirot is, and i can not emphasise enough how much that endears them both to me. Holmes isn’t a braggart; he’s honest. He is smarter than you. And him, and her, and them. He isn’t afraid to compliment people, either, when it’s deserved.

When Dr John Watson finally discovers what it is Holmes does, his disbelief and comparison to Dupin (who i discovered and loved after reading some Edgar Allan Poe) and Lecoq pleased me far more than i should admit. I smile just thinking about Holmes calling Dupin “showy and superficial.” Oh, egotistical rivalry!

The only reason this book didn’t get five stars was because of the first five chapters of the second part of the book. Most of the story, as with most Sherlock Holmes stories, i am lead to believe, is told from the point of view of Watson. I like it that way. But these several chapters are about the back story of the murders, stretching back years, and told in third person. To jump from Holmes catching the murderer, back over 20 years to a group of new characters that (at that point) were completely unrelated just felt awkward. For the first three chapters i just didn’t care. By the time i realised how it was fitting in with the actual plot, i was more interested in what was going to happen, but it threw the pace of the whole story off. I would rather have just heard the story be told by someone in the present of the original plot. I do hope this isn’t a regular thing for these books; i would like to enjoy them a five star-worthy amount.

Overall, i did love this book, and it took an extraordinary amount of willpower to not pick up ‘The Sign of Four’ and begin reading it immediately afterwards! Why egotistical detectives hold such a wonderful place in my heart i really don’t know.

About Wendleberry
I'm odd.

2 Responses to A Study In Scarlet

  1. TonyT says:

    A Study in Scarlet is the only one that veers off into the format of telling the murders through a 20-year back story. In some ways, Holmes isn’t in it much at all!

    I love the part where he looks round a room for five minutes and says something like “the murderer was a left handed German with a florid complexion and a liking for strawberry cheesecake.” Classic.

    • Wendleberry says:

      I’m so happy to hear that! I look forward to more Holmes-centric stories in future.

      His proclamations do sound so outlandish, but i love trying to figure out how he figured it out!

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