Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Study in Scarlet

The title: A Study in Scarlet
The author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Publication: 1887
Got it from: MC

I am deeply in love with the BBC series of Sherlock, and while I read The Hound of the Baskervilles last year, until now I have not read any of the other Sherlock Holmes stories.  I decided to start at the beginning and work my way through the Sherlock canon.  

I tend to be wary of Victorian literature as it can be quite wordy, so I was surprised at how utterly readable this novella was.  I don't think anybody reading it today would find it difficult or foreign.  Much has been said elsewhere about how modern and ahead-of-his-time Conan Doyle's creation was, so I'll skip that and just say it was a cracking good story.

The first part of the novella deals with Watson and Holmes' meeting and is hilarious in the way it portrayes Watson's bafflement over his new roommate.  (A list Watson makes of Sherlock's knowledge of various subjects is a highlight).  The majority of the middle portion of the book involves the back story of the murder case Holmes and Watson are trying to solve, and involves a nail-biting tale of fanatic Mormons, a love affair, a daring escape and a plot for revenge.  I can see why the Victorians went crazy over this.  Whether or not you actually believe Holmes could possibly know what he knows from the clues he's given, he certainly makes you want to pay more attention to the world around you.

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