A Study in Scarlet is the first Sherlock Holmes novel written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I recently did a feature on Doyle on this blog and, being the book nerd that I am, I’m going back and reading all of the Sherlock Holmes pieces again.
This book, like many of the Sherlock Holmes stories, is told from the perspective of Dr. Watson, Holmes companion and assistant. In this tale, we see when the pair met for the first time and see the formulation of Watson’s opinion of Holmes grow from thinking he is very odd to outright, unabashed admiration for his abilities.
This novel unveils the uncanny deductive abilities of Sherlock Holmes from the very outset as he tells Watson exactly where he has been and what he has experienced. Watson is amazed and believes that Holmes is guessing until he unveils his logic. Doyle has a way of unveiling this logic that makes the reader think that the process is simple and obvious once it is explained.
As expected, much of this story takes place in London with vivid descriptions of the streets of this magnificent city during the time period contemporary with Doyle’s own experience. What I did not expect in this novel is a section that reads like an old style American western.
As Doyle does in many of his tales, once caught, he lets the criminal tell his tale. In this case, the murderer talks about his experiences dealing with the Mormons migrating to Salt Lake City. The descriptions and the action are as good as any wild west tale written by American authors. I did not expect this, but it was very enjoyable. Doyle was masterful in describing the landscape and the trials and tribulations of these migratory religious pilgrims. He even weaves Brigham Young himself into the story.
Overall, this was an excellent novel and a fantastic introduction of one of the most beloved figures in the Detective/Crime genre.
Look for more reviews of Doyle’s work in the coming weeks. This one gets five out of five pizzas.