Becky's Reviews > A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
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May 02, 10

bookshelves: classics, mystery-and-thrillers, 2010, reviewed, religion-related
Read on May 02, 2010

I really enjoyed this story, and now begin to wonder why I've never read any of these Sherlock Holmes stories before. (I did like to read the Slylock Fox mystery cartoon in the Sunday paper as a kid, but that hardly counts. :P)

This is the very first of all of the SH stories, and it introduces us to Holmes, Watson, and the methodology of Holmes's practice and brilliance. I loved Holmes's witty, dry humor, and his quirkiness and genius. I also loved Watson's more socially accepted gentleman role. He's fresh back from the Afghanistan war, after being wounded and ill, and is intrigued by the mystery that is Holmes, but isn't exactly keeping up with him all that well. I always get a kick out of reading Victorian lit when it comes to people's constitutions, and how the simple exertion of morning errands can be enough to wear someone out, or how excitement can lead to a bed-ridden state of ill-health. What would these people think if they were to see a single episode of CSI? They'd probably keel right over dead from shock. I love Victorian lit for this reason, it amuses me.

I love that Holmes is sort of falsely self-deprecating. He's brilliant, and knows it, but for him it's normal, so he tries to act like he's normal, while all the while being brilliant because he just can't help it. He loves flattery though, so mention he's brilliant next time you see him and I'm sure he'll be pleased. ;)

The story is narrated by Watson, or rather, catalogued by Watson, except for the middle, which is the first part of the 2nd half. I was kind of thrown off by this, and wasn't sure how the two completely different stories had anything to do with each other, but I was rewarded for my patience, I think. I mean, the whole thing was barely a novella, it's not like it was any huge commitment to stick with it. The middle section details the back-story of the events that led to the initial murder which Holmes and Watson investigate. Once I realized that's where it was going (which took a few pages, even in a barely-novella length story), I was intrigued to see how it would end.

There is, in this section, a rather blatant anti-Mormon sentiment. High ranking Mormons (referred to as the "Holy Four") were depicted as essentially bad men who care more about power and expansion than they do of the happiness and Godliness of their community. They dictated rules of behavior and instilled fear in the community by invoking terror - any dissent, no matter how small, was cause for harsh repercussions. People would just vanish... Add to that the attitude towards women, calling them "heifers" as if they are chattel rather than people, etc, and you have yourself a pretty dislikable group.
This is not the first I've heard of this kind of thing regarding Mormons, but I was surprised to see it here! I'm all for people believing what they want, but with that comes freedom to choose.

This section did interrupt that flow of the story, for me, and kind of drug out a little too long. I think that it could have probably been worked into the story differently in order for the story to flow better. I really loved the conclusion, where Holme's explains his deduction and how he came to solve the mystery. The hints of clues were there, so that we could follow along as Watson did, but the solving is all Holmes. I'm OK with that though. All in all, I really liked it and look forward to smooshing in more of these stories as my schedule permits. :)
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message 1: by Bondama (last edited May 03, 2010 02:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bondama Becky, if you haven't tried Laurie R. King's Russell/Holmes series, you are in for a real treat. They are set in Suffolk after Holmes has "retired" from detecting and is a beekeeper. Mary Russell is an extremely intelligent 15 yr old, exiled to her Grandmother's, when they meet. They are excellently written, and Laurie King is a GR author, so she WILL see your review! Seriously, this is one of my favorite set of books. This first is called "The Beekeeper's Apprentice" and is TERRIFIC!


message 2: by Jayme (new) - added it

Jayme I want to read this for my next Sherlock. I've also been wondering why I haven't read Sherlock stories since day one. I read Hound of the Baskervilles just a little while ago and loved it. You have to read it now, while I rush out and buy Study in Scarlet!


Becky Bondama, you are not the only one to have recommended "The Beekeeper's Apprentice" to me. My friend Laura has rec'd them to me probably a gajillion times, but I keep putting them off because I'm a straight-through-the-series kinda girl, and I'm sure I'd want to read all of them back to back since they are so highly recommended.

I'll probably grab it from the library soon though. :)


Bondama Becky, I guarantee it -- You WILL want to read the series straight through. Ms. King is a wonderful lady -- She apparently saw my review of her next-to-latest book in the Russell/Holmes series, and wrote to me, straight out of the blue! She has a new book, just cam out on 4/27, called "The God of the Hive" -- I'm still waiting for my local library to let me know when it arrives, 'cause I'm first on the list!


Laura heehee! It's a great series! :)


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