I had just finished watching season one of the BBC’s Sherlock and I desperately wanted more but the next season would take over a year to be released. It was in this time that I decided to read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes stories to see the inspiration for Sherlock. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.
A Study in Scarlet is the first of sixty, yes, sixty Sherlock Holmes stories. These include four novels (of which this book is the first) and fifty-six short stories. It was written by Doyle in 1886 and published in 1887. It was the first work of fiction to use a magnifying glass as a investigative tool and the novel brought little attention when it was first published.
For a Sherlock Holmes story, there was surprisingly little about Sherlock Holmes. We are shown generally about his behaviour and personality but very little about the science of deduction. It seems like the main story wasn’t really about him and his detective work at all, but about the events that occurred in Utah, USA. The first time I read it, I was very disappointed by this and quickly skimmed through the second part to get back to Sherlock Holmes’ story, but the second time I already knew about it and was prepared. I then found that Doyle’s writing doesn’t have to focus on Mr. Holmes to be awesome. His writing style seems like it could make any story interesting. Reading the second part knowing that Mr. Holmes wasn’t a big part of it really made me appreciate Doyle’s writing style and storytelling more, instead of rushing through it.
He showed that he is great at character development in Part II, but I wish he would have helped developed the characters of Dr. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes more. In the end, for me to want to continue reading a series, the overall story has to be just as intriguing as the story in that one book, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case. It really made me worry that maybe the character development and the stories of Holmes and Watson isn’t actually the main part of the story and that it may not be touched upon or developed in future stories. Never fear though, because I will re-read all sixty Sherlock Holmes stories!
I don’t usually pay much attention to the descriptions in novels, and usually skim over them, so much so that I have a completely different mental picture of a character than what the author envisioned and described. But with Doyle’s writing style, he somehow makes the descriptions interesting and compelling. I actually want to read them and found out that they are an important part of setting the scene and story in a particular place. One of the descriptions I like the most is at the start of Part II, the description of the desert. I felt that I had the perfect image of it in my head and well as the emotions as well as the emotions that the characters would feel being in the landscape.
Favourite character: John Ferrier
Least favourite character: Joseph Stangerson
Favourite scene: When Jefferson Hope is found dead in his jail cell
Least favourite scene: When Lestrade and Gregson are commended for their part in the investigation instead of Holmes
Rating; 3/5 stars