Wednesday, August 19, 2009
A Study in Scarlet
*** Why I Choose It ***
Earlier this year I joined in the Baker Street Challenge to celebrate my love of everything Sherlock Holmes. A review posted during that challenge made me realize that I'd never read what seemed to be a classic Holmes adventure - A STUDY IN SCARLET. Now I've remedied that problem.
*** My Thoughts ***
This was the first introduction of Holmes by Doyle and I loved getting to know the detective from a fresh perspective. The story includes the first meeting of Holmes and Watson and is told mostly from Watson's perspective. Of course there is a mystery involved, but that is almost secondary to Holmes himself (at least it was for me).
I quite enjoyed this book although it was very different from the other Holmes stories I've read/listened to. The story begins with excerpts from Watson's journals. About halfway through it jumps to an omniscient narrator who gives the lengthy background story of the criminal and the cause of his crimes. The story concludes with a return to Watson's journal. At first the middle section really threw me off - it is so different from other Holmes stories - but once I realized what was going on I was fine. I don't think I'd like to have the majority of the stories written that way but this one time was good.
*** Minor Spoiler Alert (this section only) ***
If you've read this story you'll know that the middle section takes place in the American West and centers on a group of Mormons and Brigham Young. Had I not read THE 19TH WIFE I would have been clueless as to the history of the Mormon exodus and settlement in Utah. That knowledge was very helpful in keeping me connected with the story - without it I would have felt lost for a while. I love it when knowledge from other books comes into play in my current read!
*** The (Upcoming) Movie ***
I think it is likely that the upcoming Sherlock Holmes film starring Robert Downey, Jr. will draw much of it's characterization of Holmes from this story. Most of us tend to think of Holmes as an older man, highly intelligent, but not particularly tough physically. In this story however we learn that Holmes was an expert boxer and sword fighter, and that he had several other unexpected abilities. He is also a very young man in this story and is presented as such.
In his later life Doyle was very involved in spiritualism so I think the supernatural aspect of the film comes from Doyle's personal beliefs. To me it looks like the movie will pull together both Doyle and young Holmes to create their main character.
Personally I'm looking forward to it ... what about you?