Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"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.

I'm going to be honest with you all here. About a year ago I went through a BBC's Sherlock obsession. I wanted to be an expert on all things Sherlock Holmes, so I went out and bought the first volume in the Bantam Classic Sherlock Holmes collection, assuming I'd finish all of the short stories and novels within a week or so. Oh, how wrong I was.

I tried to work through A Study in Scarlet for ages, but it just was never something I could make myself read. The volume collected dust on my bookshelf until about two days ago, when I finally decided to tackle the task of reading it. This time I was determined.

I'm so glad I made myself read past the first twenty or so pages. I fell in love with the smart-ass attitude of Sherlock Holmes immediately. Sure, Benedict Cumberbatch is a fine, snarky Sherlock, but nothing compared to the dialogue written in this novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

It was a bit slow at parts, but maybe that's because I already knew who committed the crime (thanks, BBC). I think what I liked most about A Study in Scarlet was the small break in the middle of the novel. It's broken up into two parts, the first part being a recollection of Dr. John Watson meeting and living with Sherlock Holmes in the midst of a terrible crime. The second, which was my favorite, started out with a third-person narrative explaining the back story of the killer, who was rescued by Mormon pilgrims in America. I'm in love with American history, so this was a really nice touch for me. Everything flowed together seamlessly, building up to an amazing ending in Watson's point-of-view.

I was not expecting to like A Study in Scarlet as well as I did at all. I definitely would recommend it to any classic or Holmes fan... or any human being period. It's instantly become one of my favorites of all time. 5/5 stars. Blew me away.

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