Sunday, October 6, 2013

31 Days of Books: Study in Scarlet

Title: A Study in Scarlet

Author:  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Published:  1887

Year I read it:  2011

One sentence summary:  Holmes & Watson's first ever case is about a series of mysterious deaths, told in a novella from Watson's perspective.

Three reasons to read it:
  • It's where it all began for Sherlock & Watson - it's quite remarkable, knowing what follows, to read John's (and by extension, Doyle's) first impression of Sherlock. 
  • This case (along with a handful of others like Sign of Four, Scandal in Bohemia, and The Final Problem) allows some of the most space for its characters. Nearly every Holmes mystery interesting, but some draw you closer to the characters than others. 
  • I find Doyle's perspective on Americans - especially specific communities - most intriguing. This case of London murders is connected to Mormonism, while The Five Orange Pips delves into the KKK. Fascinating (even if flawed) commentary on both. 

One reason you maybe shouldn't:

  • It's the beginning, but it's not the most famous Sherlock story. It's also one of 3 Holmes novellas, while the rest of the cases are found within collections of short stories. If you want something shorter, go with The Adventure of Sherlock Holme & it's first story, "Scandal of Bohemia."

Great quotes:

“To a great mind, nothing is little,' remarked Holmes, sententiously.” 
“Once you have ruled out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” [Yes, he said it first!  Spock quoted him.] 
“A summary list of Sherlock Holmes's strengths and weaknesses:

  1. Knowledge of Literature: Nil. 
  2. Knowledge of Philosophy: Nil. 
  3. Knowledge of Astronomy: Nil.
  4. Knowledge of Politics: Feeble.
  5. Knowledge of Botany: Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening. 
  6. Knowledge of Geology: Practical but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them. 
  7. Knowledge of Chemistry: Profound. 
  8. Knowledge of Anatomy: Accurate but unsystematic. 
  9. Knowledge of Sensational Literature: Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century. 
  10. Plays the violin well. 
  11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman. 
  12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law."

1 comment:

  1. This isn't my favourite Holmes novella. The flashback in America takes us away from Holmes and Watson for too long. But it's a still really enjoyable book and no Sherlock Holmes fan should go without reading it :)