A Study in Scarlet – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

OK so this one I read only a month ago…

And it was for a book club and it was relatively short so I thought why not.

Do I need to give much background or a synopsis? This is the first Sherlock Holmes story. I’d never read any before. Of course I’ve seen lots of different adaptations – or bits of ones. I’ve certainly seen the modern version with Cumberbatch and Freeman, the first episode of which was based on this story and re-titled “A Study in Pink”

In fact I might have enjoyed this more if I hadn’t seen that because they were so faithful to the original that I pretty much knew who the murderer was and how he did it all along.

Having said that this book has an odd structure worthy of note. About the first half is the introduction of Holmes to Watson and then the story of the investigation of the murder, up to and including the capture of the guilty party. The story then switches suddenly to several years earlier in America and we get a sort of western with some Mormons and small town politics and power struggles. This eventually gives us the back story and motive for the killings. I quite enjoyed this section even if the portrayal of the Mormon culture was clearly a harsh caricature.

It’s odd for a modern reader because in any current crime story – especially on film or TV I suppose – the unveiling of the killer, the reasons for the crime and how the detective solved it would all appear in quick succession. Here we get the first, the ‘American interlude’ for half a book and then the other two. That felt odd.

Well it was an OK read and I can say now I’ve read Sherlock Holmes. Not sure I feel the need to read any more though.

6/10 – reasonably good, especially in the second half.

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