Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Review: A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Title: A Study in Scarlet
Series: Sherlock Holmes #1
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 176
Genres: Classics, Mystery

A Study in Scarlet

'There's a scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.'

From the moment Dr John Watson takes lodgings in Baker Street with the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, he becomes intimately acquainted with the bloody violence and frightening ingenuity of the criminal mind.

In A Study in Scarlet, Holmes and Watson's first mystery, the pair are summoned to a south London house where they find a dead man whose contorted face is a twisted mask of horror. The body is unmarked by violence but on the wall a mysterious word has been written in blood.

The police are baffled by the crime and its circumstances. But when Sherlock Holmes applies his brilliantly logical mind to the problem he uncovers a tragic tale of love and deadly revenge..
I absolutely adored this book. My only regret is that I did not read it sooner. Strangely, I read Anthony Horowitz's The House of Silk in 2012 which is a Sherlock Holmes retelling that is a tribute to the originals; I really enjoyed that book so why didn't I pick up A Study in Scarlet? It beggars belief.

Moving swiftly on. I fell in love with Arthur Conan Doyle's writing, I adored Dr Watson's account of Sherlock Holmes and his brilliant mind. The mystery was utterly fascinating, and the burgeoning camaraderie between Watson and Holmes was a delight to read. The nineteenth century is one of my favourite periods of time to read about and I could not get enough of all the little historical details and descriptions of London. The character of Sherlock Holmes was a little different to what I was expecting compared to the various portrayals of him in film and TV. Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock is surprisingly polite and humble, at least in this first book. Sherlock also isn't the all knowing genius I expected, he didn't know that the Earth revolves around the sun for example and Watson further indicates he chooses to be ignorant of similar common knowledge.

The seemingly random departure from the main narrative in the second part of this book was one of my favourite bits. Frontier America, pioneers and oddly, fundamentalist Mormons. The descriptions of the desert landscape of Nevada and Utah and their surrounding areas was just fascinating as well as Arthur Conan Doyle's attitude toward the FLDS church.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone who hasn't read it yet, better late then never! It is a really easy, accessible classic to read and the mystery was riveting as expected. One of my new favourites.

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