The very first Sherlock Holmes story. Our first glimpse into the great detective, his best friend Dr. John Watson, and their unbelievable antics. How do you even begin to talk about it? If not for this book, we would never have heard the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson” (even if Holmes never uttered that phrase in his life), we would have absolutely no idea what a deerstalker is, and we wouldn’t know that you can tell a tea drinker by his collar. But most importantly, there would be no Sherlockians, no Wholock, and no Johnlock. Could you even imagine?
Just for those of you unaware of the phenomenon that is Wholock, here’s a taste:
Anyway, reading A Study in Scarlet was an experience. I mean, an actual experience. The story is pretty elaborate, even for Sherlock Holmes, but what I mean when I say “experience” is that on every page is a tiny familiar detail from modern reincarnations of Sherlock Holmes. Let’s make a list, shall we?
- We meet Sherlock as he beats a corpse in order to explore post-mortem bruising
- Watson was injured in the Afghan wars and Sherlock deduces this in seconds
- Sherlock poisons Watson’s dog in order to prove a point
- We are introduced to both a Mr Lestrade and a Mr Gregson. Who happen to be rivals.
I won’t go on, but the fact that the producers of the modern Sherlock Holmes actually stick to the details makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over. Respect for literature in the 21st century? Thank you so much!
But then we can also see how the producers made the infamous detective stories their own. It’s like a good cover of a great song: you want the artist to interpret the song for themselves, but also keep a modicum of the original. So, when Holmes and Watson stumble across bodies with the word “RACHE” scrawled next to them, either in blood or scratched into the wall, I can see that last crime scene in “A Study in Pink” where Sherlock shuts down the idea that the woman in pink would have been scratching the German word for revenge into the floor. Instead, he knows that he’s looking for a Rachel. Whereas, in the original, it’s the opposite. Brilliant!
A Study in Scarlet is broken into two parts, which I was not aware of. I mean, you’re told there’s a Part One, but I thought nothing of it. Then when Part Two kicked off and it was about a completely different set of characters on a different continent I thought that, perhaps, Conan Doyle had had two stories in this novel and the anthology was called A Study In Scarlet. But it all ties together, you just have to bear with it. Which isn’t too difficult, given that the secondary story is gripping. Love, hardship, revenge, religious intrigue, all in the Wild West? Sign me up. This is just a warning for those unprepared for a split story: don’t give up. Once the secondary story comes to a close, Holmes and Watson come back and the murders are solved based on Sherlock’s brilliant deductions. Not that he gets any of the credit:
Gregson knows that I am his superior, and acknowledges it to me; but he would cut his tongue out before he would own it to any third person.
Thank God for Dr. Watson, who records the true events of every crime Holmes solves so that London can appreciate his genius. Without Watson, Holmes would be that amateur detective who “aids” the police as opposed to the genius who solves most of Scotland Yard’s crimes for them.
I am aware of the fact that I haven’t really reviewed this book. It’s not really for me to say. As with my “review” of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, this is more me saying that the original stories are definitely worth the read. Particularly if you, like me, buy the BBC reissues and stumble across gems like this from one of the shows creators in the introduction:
“Like most male friendships, everything is assumed, and nothing is spoken of.
Oh, except for once. Just once, and that’s your lot. If you’re going to read in order, like I did, you’ve got a long way to wait for The Adventure of the Three Garridebs, but patience, and keep reading in order – and you’ll be blinking back tears when the moment comes.”
Thanks for that Moffat. Thank you so much. It’s not like you make me cry too much already, is it? (Seen “The Sign of Three” yet? You know what I mean).
So, fellow Sherlockians, go forth and read the originals! And here’s a hint, the BBC reissues of Sign of Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles have introductions written by Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch respectively.
…what are you still doing here?
I just received word that I received another nomination for the ABC (Awesome Blog Content) award, from none other than The Collective. Thanks guys! I’m not sure what the protocol is for this, so just to cover my bases, here’s the award, and if you click on it you can see my nominations as well as the Alphabet of Me I filled in last time. I don’t do so well with self-examination. Pretty sure I couldn’t do it again: