Title: A Study in Scarlet
Series: Sherlock Holmes, #1
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Published: Enhanced Media Publishing, March 2017 (originally published 1887)
Genre: Mystery, Classic
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A Study in Scarlet is the first story to feature Sherlock Holmes. The story opens with Holmes and Watson meeting each other for the first time, and their decision to become flat-mates at 221B Baker Street. Soon they are involved in a murder-mystery involving kidnapping, enslavement and revenge that will test the limits of Holmes’ skills and establish a life-long relationship with Watson.
It’s not a well-kept secret that I’m a huge and lifelong Sherlock Holmes fan. Whether it be the books or one of the many adaptations (though, I could have a few rants about Sherlock if I wanted), I’m there. And, though I will admit it was because I don’t have much money and I could get the ebooks for free, I decided to take another look at the series.
And honestly, what’s to say? It’s Sherlock Holmes. It’s not perfect, but it’s undeniably a classic. And it has to be regarded as such. I am unworthy.
In this first book, John Watson returns to England from his soldiering career and moves into 221B with Sherlock, where he’s soon caught up in solving a murder with Sherlock and detectives Lestrade and Gregson. And it’s wonderful. I love this book. Not only is the mystery interesting and well-crafted, quickly drawing you in with its little details and oddities, but the characters are fascinating. You wanna see them catch the killer.
Sherlock is obviously a real strength in this book. He’s quickly established as a fascinating enigma you just have to read more about. His strengths make him really interesting, but Doyle also throws in enough weaknesses (primarily social ineptitude) to make him a wonderful, three-dimensional character. Sherlock is timeless. But John is also a great narrator. He’s judgemental, sure, but he’s Victorian. Watching his struggles with his mental health is interesting, and having someone not already in Sherlock’s world to narrate this opening mystery was a strong choice. His strengths and weaknesses made him, for me anyway, as interesting a character as Sherlock, who wouldn’t have narrated his own story anyway.
As I say, this book isn’t perfect. My edition contained some errors, but that’s by the by. The most jarring moment happens about halfway through. We’ve been following John, Sherlock and not Greg Lestrade for half the book and that’s who we’re engaged with, then suddenly we’re with a meta-narrator learning about the killer’s motivations. It doesn’t ruin anything, but there might have been a more elegant solution, especially since we get more on the killer’s motivations when we’re back with John and Sherlock anyway.
But, really, this is just a classic and a favourite. And I’ll always recommend that you at least check these books out. As long as you can deal with John and Sherlock being dicks to their landlady. But I mean, the johnlock ship has survived to this day for a reason, right?
“I shall never do that,” I answered; “you have brought detection as near an exact science as it ever will be brought in this world.” My companion flushed up with pleasure at my words, and the earnest way in which I uttered them. I had already observed that he was as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl could be of her beauty.
Even my dad thinks this book is gay.
Seriously, reading this thing really helped with my reading slump. I’m going to keep on with my Holmes reading when I can.