A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle: Book Review

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Cover of A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle2 Stars

Synopsis from GoodReads:

In 1887, a young Arthur Conan Doyle published A Study in Scarlet, creating an international icon in the quick-witted sleuth Sherlock Holmes. In this very 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. In A Study in Scarlet, 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. Picking up the “scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life,” Holmes demonstrates his uncanny knack for finding the truth, tapping into powers of deduction that still captivate readers today.

I read a lot of Sherlock Holmes way back in high school one summer. When I ran out of library books, I occasionally delved into my parents’ shelves and that’s how I was first introduced to Mr. Holmes. I have a collection on my nook now and I decided to re-read this first–novella, I’ll call it–for old times’ sake.

I really didn’t like it. I enjoyed the setup with Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Watson and their meeting and all that. But the actual mystery? Improbable is not even the word for it. It just defied belief. Why wouldn’t a British detective know all about the American West? Please. The whole murder and everything is just overly melodramatic.

And then there was the way that the Mormons were portrayed. Unflattering to say the least. I am not Mormon and know shamefully little about the faith, but my goodness–I was offended on their behalf!

I’m sure I’ll get around to reading some more of the stories, but this re-read left a bad taste in my mouth.

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1 Comment

  1. This one wasn't very well written, was it? I just liked it for the introduction of Sherlock and Watson. The Mormon stuff bore such little resemblance to anything actually relating to Mormons. The good news is you can only go up from this one in terms of reading more of his works.

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