A Study in Scarlet--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Murder, Mormons, Brigham Young, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, footprints, revenge, Victorian London, disguises and detection galore. What else can it be but the beginning of the modern detective story.

Reading this classic after many years, after one's first love affair with the whole Holmesian opus, leaves one with quite a different feeling from that first enchantment. With more experience of the detective novel, you realize that Doyle does not "play fair," at least in the first of the great dectective's opus. The murderer is randomly pulled out of a hansom cab somewhere in London. Additionally, there is a lengthy digression just after apprehending the culprit and before Holmes explains how he reached the conclusions he did.

And yet. . . and yet. . . it is still the great Holmes, and it is still a great read, and it is still a marvelous journey into a world first opened up in childhood. Doyle was an enormously clever author who is able to make the most unlikely parlor trick make sense. (Of course when your detective writes monographs on identifying samples of ash even as he has no notion of the Copernican nature of the solar system--well, what can you say.)

If, for some reason, you've failed to meet Sherlock Holmes before, do yourself a favor and visit him now. Perhaps not in this first great opus, but in the short stories. But don't forget to get around to this novel because it is

Highly recommended.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 3, 2009 8:09 AM.

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