Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Study in Scarlet

by Arthur Conan Doyle
Published: Sterling; Barnes and Noble Classic edition, 2009
Pages: 71

Sherlock Holmes is an iconic name and character.  He has been recreated in so many mediums: most currently, the BBC show Sherlock, of which I am a HUGE fan.  The question now is whether or not the original Sherlock Holmes can capture the hearts of everyone as much as the adaptation.  Has the success of the name outweighed the actually merit of the original stories?

Introduce: Dr. John Watson and Mr. Sherlock Holmes.  In this first case, Watson is whirled into the life and investigations of Sherlock Holmes.  A Study in Scarlet includes a murder motivated by revenge.  When Sherlock Holmes observes the crime scene of a man, dead without any physical signs, he shows his spectacular observation skills to figure out how this man died. 

Being the first Sherlock Holmes story I have read, I did not expect to have an entire section of the novel where there was no mention of Sherlock or John.  I did not quite figure out why the story was set in America until about half way through the section.  However, I thought that the section added to the story and made what could have been a clear cut and dry short story more compelling.  I was happy to see the back story of the people involved in the murder. 

The story itself was a basic murder mystery.  The plot was fairly simple, but the details made it interesting.  I was slightly annoyed by the language in the story, but it may be my lack of a large vocabulary that annoyed me.  I kept going back to the dictionary to look up definitions to words in the story.  It broke my concentration of the plot, but I added many words to my vocabulary. That is one of my favorite aspects of reading.

The story is told from John Watson's point of view.  Meeting Sherlock Holmes through this lens is fascinating and makes Sherlock even more intriguing as a character.  I think Sherlock's personality and quirks make him an excellent character, one that I would want to have as a friend.  The way he talks and makes observations is so unique to him; he is very memorable.  Ask anyone.  John Watson is a little less inspiring in this story though.  He is so accepting of Sherlock, it seems that he is more of a pet than a person at the beginning.  I wished that more of his personality was shown.  However, I have no doubt that Watson will get his moment to shine in some of the other Sherlock Holmes stories.  

Arthur Conan Doyle worked hard to create these iconic characters and his hard work paid off with a beautifully written narrative that is just the beginning of the adventures.  I look forward to reading more of the Sherlock Holmes chronicles in the future. 

Stars: 3/5

Side Note:
I think it is hilarious that Sherlock did cocaine when he was not busy with a case.  I'm not sure why I missed that the first time around.

For those that are bothered by editing errors, there are some interesting spelling mistakes in this edition. 

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