Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Study in Scarlet.

Title/Author: A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Genre: Mystery.


Source: Free on Kindle.

Favorite character: Sherlock Holmes.

Favorite quote:

All in all: Entertaining.

Synopsis:  In 1887, a young Arthur Conan Doyle published A Study in Scarlet, thus creating an international icon in the quick-witted sleuth Sherlock Holmes. In this, the first Holmes mystery, the detective introduces himself to Dr. John H. Watson with the puzzling line "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive." And so begins Watson's, and the world's, fascination with this enigmatic character." Doyle presents two equally perplexing mysteries for Holmes to solve: one a murder that takes place in the shadowy outskirts of London, in a locked room where the haunting word Rache is written upon the wall, the other a kidnapping set in the American West. Quickly picking up the "scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life," Holmes does not fail at finding the truth - and making literary history. ~From Goodreads.com.

My Thoughts:
This is the story that introduces Sherlock Holmes to the world, myself included, and I liked it more than I thought I would. It’s a bit intimidating for me to read stories written long ago but although parts were wordy the story flowed and the mystery piqued my interest and held it. The way that Conan Doyle portrayed the ancillary characters and the setting of London really put me in that world and that time period.

There was a part where the story sort of changed directions and it confused me for a bit until I realized that it all had to do with the big picture. What I also realized was that the events of the past had somehow caught up to the victims and their demise was a direct reflection of choices they had made. It wasn’t a question of lining up suspects and figuring out who had the best motive, it was more like asking what the people murdered were involved in.

Although everything was explained, from tire tracks to a missing ring to blood on the wall, I’m still not 100% sure how Holmes solved the mystery. He did tell Watson that he solves cases backwards which accounts for his success rate. You may wonder why Holmes can only solve pieces of the puzzle and not the police, I’m sure he or Watson would explain it is because of his analytical mind and the fact that he has such a wealth of information seemingly at his fingertips. He reminds me of Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds.

Something else I liked and never realized is that the Sherlock Holmes stories are told through Watson's eyes.  This gives a perspective of seeing a character not as they would describe themselves but through another, perhaps more subjective opinion.  I felt as if I got to know not only Holme’s eccentricities, methods and "genius," but also Watson’s budding curiosity and growing respect of his new roommate.

Just a note on the Kindle versions:  Apparently, the version I downloaded was missing a list made by Watson about Holmes' strengths and weaknesses.  I read it online somewhere and while interesting to the story I don't feel I missed much.  However, Watson pointed out the subjects that Holmes was less than knowledgable about.  I'm not sure just from reading one story if this serves to make him more astonishing for his solve rate or less realistic.  I think I'll have to suspend judgement until I read more stories.

I grew up hearing about Sherlock Holmes from my father so it was nice to finally read one of his exploits and I’m looking forward to reading more.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.



Missie, The Unread Reader said...

Wow! I never knew about that Watson fun fact before. That is certainly a surprise Pam, but it also makes me wonder how subjective his opinion is or if it was embellished because of some type of worship.

Great book to read for the challenge, and one I should probably pick up.

Logan E. Turner said...

I love Holmes and until a few months ago had never read this one. Did you see the recent BBC miniseries they played on PBS? SO GOOD and the first episode is this based on this book (without the backstory). I also highly recommend The Hound of the Baskervilles book/movies. My favorite of all Holmes tales.

Jaime Anderson said...

I've never read any of these stories and this seems like a good place to start. I intended to read *Hound but got distracted by more pressing things. I'm going to download this one on my Kindle :)

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