Thursday, February 2

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

John Watson has returned from Afghanistan and is looking for lodgings in London. An old friend introduces him to Sherlock Holmes, a consulting detective and the two of them take up abode in 221B Baker Street. Thus begins Watson's insight into the life and mind of Holmes.

When a man shows up dead with no signs of a struggle, the police are stumped. They call in Holmes to help them solve the mystery of his murder. The policemen are at odds, trying to trump the other by solving the case first but Holmes is clever. Using his powers of deduction, can he solve the crime before the killer strikes again? Or could there be more cunning to this murder scheme than even Holmes can catch?

Revenge is the agenda - but what could prompt such vengeance?

The only insight I have ever had into Sherlock Holmes has been through adaptations or hearsay. He has become such a quintessential character that he is threaded throughout modern literature and television. I had no idea what Sherlock was really meant to be like, so I was determined to get it straight from the source. I like to start at the beginning if I can and so 'A Study in Scarlet' was the only option. The very beginning of the Watson and Holmes duo.

The novel was divided into two parts, which I wasn't aware of before I began it. The first half is much the mystery and watching Holmes go about his business of being clever but refusing to tell anyone his conclusions until everything is resolved. My fascination with the characters and the cleverness of Holmes was what kept me intrigued. The second part, however, is all about the back story. It is the lead-up to the reason of the crime.

The mystery structure I am most familiar with is one that gives an insight into possible reasons for the murder and the background of potential suspects as it goes along. This one kept me in the dark for the first half and dished out the answers in part two. It was an interesting experience.

The second part of the novel did grip me. I had my doubts. I was thrown and I wasn't sure if I was going to be interested but it proved to be a gritty telling that got right under my skin and held my attention. It is up to the individual reader to decide whether they sympathise with the murderer but I found that it was empathetic at least.

A Study in Scarlet gives an insight into religious communities in that time period that I had a faint idea of but hadn't grasped. It is a story well worth reading...or in my case listening to. I purchased it on audio book, narrated by Derek Jacobi.

I have no idea which installment comes after this one but I'm keen to find out.

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Ward Lock & Co and is used solely as an aide to the review.


oldpatrick said...

The next installment is 'The Sign of Four.'

Keri said...

Thanks, Patrick! I really wasn't sure. I think I'll get the next one on audio too. ♥