Saturday, 19 February 2011

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback
Published: This Addition: 2007
First Published: 1887
Number of Pages: 163
Book: Bought
Genre: Murder Mystery, Classic

A detective’s duty is to unravel the scarlet thread of murder...
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 in written on the wall in blood.
Dr Watson is as baffled as the police, but Holmes’ brilliant analytical skills soon uncover the trail of murder, revenge and lost love...

Let’s face it: everyone knows about Sherlock Holmes: some from reading one of the books; some from watching one of the movies; and some from watching some of the TV series.  He’s the character that led to all the modern detectives that we read about, and Arthur Conan Doyle is the man who made modern crime drama what it is. 
And – if you haven’t already gathered from my rambling – I loved A Study in Scarlet, the first in the series revolving around the brilliant Sherlock Holmes.
It starts with Watson returning from the war, having served as an army doctor, because he’s recovering from a bad injury.  While looking for an apartment, who else does he find that wants to split the costs: Sherlock Holmes, of course.  From there, the story dragged me in, whether it was telling me the story of Watson and Holmes, or flashbacks from the build-up of the murder. 
Holmes is absolutely brilliant, and definitely didn’t let him reputation down – he’s a genius, unbelievably logical and more than a little eccentric.  I loved the way his mind worked: all the tiny clues he noticed absolutely fascinated me, and the way he had of figuring complexion, height, etc from the tiniest clues was just mind-blowing.  And, although no one wants to admit it, Sherlock is the one everyone – and I mean everyone, including police officers – turns to when they can’t figure the problem out themselves.  His observation and analytical skills are second to none, and everyone knows that.  It was because of these astonishing talents that Sherlock felt real to me, if a little mad.  But, hey, I like mad, especially when it’s paired with genius. 
Watson was more-or-less how he’s portrayed in all of the films/TV shows: smart, sensible and stable, compared to Holmes’ mood swings.  Unsurprisingly, Holmes intrigues him, even if he’s a little sceptical of Sherlock’s hidden detective talents to begin with.  Most of the story is told from Watson’s point of view, and it offers an interesting perspective of Holmes, and how he analysed everything. 
And the way it was written... wow.  I honestly couldn’t put the book down.  The second part confused me a little to begin with, but then I just got sucked into the story.  Once more: unable to put the book down.  Also, I can completely see why Sherlock Holmes is so huge, even nowadays.  To put it plainly, he’s brilliant.  The mystery itself was gruesome, but exciting, gripping hold of me, and winding tighter as I learnt more. 
It’s pretty safe to say that I love the classics – the feel of the world the author was in when they were written – and A Study in Scarlet really made me believe I was in Conan Doyle’s era.  Plus, it was a bite-size read, especially considering the lengths of some of the other classics out there.  I recommend this to everyone: it’s a masterpiece, with mystery, broken hearts and murder.  Really – what more do you want from a murder-mystery?

P.S. Small fact for you: Sherlock Holmes never says “Elementary, my dear Watson” in the books, as it was added to the films only for theatrical purposes.  Why it was added, though, I have no idea.

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Hercule Poirot Novels by Agatha Christie
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Miss Marple Novels by Agatha Christie

Nancy Drew Series by Various
The Hardy Boys Books by Various
Young Sherlock Holmes by Andy Lane

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

1 comment:

Midnyte Reader said...

I'm in the middle of reading this. This was a great review...I just got to the second part that is confusing, I was confused too, but I'm looking forward to how this all wraps up.