Friday, May 19, 2017

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - A Sherlock Holmes Novel (novel #115)

The proper study of mankind is man, you know. ~ Dr. Watson on his initial fascination with Sherlock Holmes

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is the first appearance of the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

It is often called a novel, but I personally think it is more accurately described as a novella: 43,000 words, right in the middle of the 30-60 thousand word definition. It is definitely NOT a short story, which was the most common venue for the exploits of Sherlock Holmes.

It also introduces Holmes’ chronicler, companion, cohabitant, and colleague, Dr. Watson who has recently returned to England from Afghanistan where he was injured and medically retired from the Army. Dr. Watson finds London expensive on his pension, and therefore seeks a roommate. Fortunately for us all, he is introduced to Sherlock Holmes.

Watson is fascinated by Holmes – as a study of mankind, and their legendary partnership develops. Watson accompanies Holmes on the case in question:

The corpse of an American found in an abandoned house, with no wounds, valuables intact, and a look of apparent dying agony on the face. Fresh blood, apparently not that of the deceased’s, is also discovered at the scene along with the word "rache" written on the wall in blood. The police of course – are baffled.

The police being, Inspectors Gregson and Lestrade of Scotland Yard, who will be recurring characters in the Sherlock Holmes canon. Gregson and Lestrade are professional rivals in the police force, but either are willing to accept credit that the reader knows is due to Sherlock Holmes.

In short – A Study in Scarlet – is FUN, grim subject notwithstanding, which is precisely what I would expect.

I’m not an all-in fan of the Detective genre, but Sherlock Holmes is so much more than a detective series. The dynamic between Holmes and Watson is – well, I’ve already said it, fun: great fun! Similarly, Holmes relationship with Lestrade and Gregson is marvelous, and I have yet to experience the Sherlock and Mycroft familial banter, or the epic contest between Holmes and Moriarty.

My rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars


The proper study of mankind is man, you know. ~ Dr. Watson on his initial fascination with Holmes

There is no satisfaction in vengeance unless the offender has time to realize who it is that strikes him, and why the retribution has come upon him. I had my plans arranged by which I should have the opportunity of making the man who had wronged me understand that his old sin had found him out. ~ the perpetrator


  1. I'm not a detective genre fan either, but (like I've said already) I'm going to plan to read Sherlock next year, and this one is definitely on the list. The human relationship aspect is what also interests me. : )

    1. Yep, the interpersonal relationships of Holmes with...whomever, make for a good read. Nice easy read too.

  2. I've read quite a bit of the Sherlock stories, but I still haven't gotten around to this first one. Need to get on that.

    1. Well, there's a lot of Sherlock to get to. I'm not very far (2 shorts and this novel). This was the best so far.


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