Review: A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle is the first Sherlock Holmes novel. It tells the story of how Watson and Holmes met and then worked on their first case together, the case being the murder of two American men in London.


Despite Holmes’s initial reluctance to investigate the case, he soon becomes intrigued by it as more and more odd details come to light, including an odd German word written at one of the crime scenes. The case seems to be a mystery and Scotland Yard is at a loss. But it’s nothing the greatest detective can’t solve.

To avoid spoilers, I’m just going to say the second part of the book was not what I was expecting. At first it threw me off a little, because it seemed so out of place. I think the reading experience would’ve been better if there had been some hints at what the part was about, but maybe the story would’ve suffered. After getting over my surprise I ended up enjoying it though.

This novel didn’t draw me in as much as the short stories in the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, but the novel format gave more room for detailed descriptions and back story. The character of Sherlock Holmes is an interesting one but Watson’s role seems to be purely narrative. Watson’s history is told quickly in the very beginning and then he settles for following Holmes and being amazed by his skills. Not necessarily a bad thing because it meant Holmes had to explain his thoughts and reasoning out loud, which I think is far more understandable than putting the reader directly into Holmes’s head.

In the end I think the parts I enjoyed most were the introduction of Holmes and then his deductions once he had solved the case, and also the developing friendship between Holmes and Watson. The second part was well-written and for the most part I liked reading it, and the end wrapped up the story nicely.

I’m going to read The Sign of the Four (the next novel) and then the other short story collections in the future because I want to know more of Holmes and see more of his deduction skills. I’m not sure I would be this excited about reading the rest of the series if I had started with this one instead of the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, but all in all I’d recommend this book.



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