Review; A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle

I’ve never been a massive fan of Sherlock Holmes; I never watched the British series,or the film with Jude Law in it. I’d never read any of the books until I came to university and two of Doyle’s books were on our course. And having read them, I’ve come to the conclusion that I do not understand what the big fuss is about.

A Study in Scarlet is the first in the Sherlock Holmes series and it begins with Dr Watson, the narrator, who has recently moved to London to Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 11.46.19recover from his illnesses while he was working as a soldier in Afghanistan. Watson tells a friend, Stamford, that he is desperately searching for accommodation in London, and Stamford declares that he also has a friend looking to find someone whom he can share a house with. Watson and Holmes are living together when a body is discovered. And so the great detective duo begins.

Conan Doyle wrote the story in 1886, but it attracted little public interest. He wrote fifty-six short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and four full-length novels. However, A Study in Scarlet can be construed as more of a novella than a novel, as it is only 127 pages long. Conan Doyle introduced the idea of a magnifying glass as a detective’s investigative tool, something that is now so stereotypical as a symbol of a detective.

The novella is split into two parts; the first in which Holmes discovers the body, and the second, which moves to a wild and isolated American desert. John and his daughter Lucy are struggling to survive after their travelling companions have died, but they are rescued. The story follows their life and introduces Jefferson Hope through them, a vital character that links back to Part One. I thoroughly enjoyed the first part of the story but in the second part, I found myself skipping sections, wanting to return to Holmes and find out who the murderer was.

Holmes claims that he has a “kind of intuition…now and again a case turns up which is a little more complex. Then I have to bustle about and see things with my own eyes. You see I have a lot of special knowledge which I apply to the problem, and which facilitates matters wonderfully. Those rules of deduction laid down in that article which aroused your scorn, are invaluable to me in practical work. Observation with me is second nature.” Watson is very apprehensive of Holmes’ way of working, but the above quote demonstrates Holmes explaining his manner as a detective. He has amazing powers of observation that he uses to piece together in order to make the full jigsaw. The article Holmes mentions allowed Watson to understand his strange tactics.

I found myself skimming lots of parts of this book, and trying to read it very quickly to ‘get it over with’.

Overall rating – 2/5

Next review: Bad Decision, by E.M.Smith


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