David Sarkies's Reviews > A Scandal in Bohemia

A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Jan 17, 12

bookshelves: mystery
Read in January, 2011

This was the first of the Sherlock Holmes stories that I have read, and the third story written by Doyle. There are about 51 short stories and 4 novels so I do not propose on writing up a review on each of them. First of all it will make it look like I have read more books on Goodreads than I really have (in the same way if I added every sonnet that I have read up as well, though I would like to write commentaries on a number of them) and that it is not truly a book, it is a short story, meant to be read in a single sitting. So, I have decided to read the first of the collection of short stories, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, if only to get a feel on what the stories are actually like.
The reason that I wanted to read at least one is that I wanted to see how close Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes was to the original character, and I must admit, pretty close. In Watson's words 'while Holmes, who loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in Baker Street, buried among his old books, and alternating from week to week between cocaine and ambition …' So, the scene in the first movie, where Holmes is sitting in a darkened room, firing a gun at the wall (no doubt whacked out on cocaine) pretty much sums up Doyle's character. I am doubtful whether in the books he ever gets involved in a pit fight (I suspect that is Ritchie's little addition), but I have concluded that what we see in Ritchie's movies, is the character that Doyle originally created, and not the prim and proper conservative character that we are all familiar with.
I would have to suggest that Doyle's Holmes is actually an amoral character. He does not do what he does for any higher purpose (and it is clear that Holmes' logical mind does not allow any spirituality into his universe) nor does it seem, does he do it for the money. He does what he does because it is a challenge, and it is clear, especially as you read some of the other stories, that he is not adverse to breaking the law to solve one of his mysteries (in fact he is a very deceitful character, as is seen in this story, where he fakes an injury to get inside Adler's house).
Now, I was thrilled to discover that the first story has Irene Adler in it. In the movies (at least the first one) Irene Adler is a major character, however it appears that she really only makes one appearance in the stories (as does Moriarty), however, she is referred to elsewhere, namely the only woman who has ever outwitted Sherlock Holmes. She is clearly a very smart and cunning woman, but unfortunately we do not get too deep into her character or motives in the story, and it is a real shame that Dolye did not attempt to develop her further.
Other people have though, Ritchie is one of them, and there is also a series of books in which Irene Adler is the protagonist (if that is the correct word for her character). However, my feeling is that despite many people trying to carry on Doyle's legacy, the only person who truly knows the character of Sherlock Holmes is his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
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