Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet. Arthur Conan Doyle. 1887/2003. Random House. 160 pages.

In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. 

Readers are introduced to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in Arthur Conan Doyle's slim novel, A Study in Scarlet. Not only is this the first introduction of the characters to the audience, but it also shows the introduction of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to each other. They are introduced by a mutual acquaintance who knows that the other is looking for a roommate to help share costs. The two soon move into 221B Baker Street. As these two are getting to know one another, Dr. Watson witnesses first hand the "genius" of his new friend. For Sherlock Holmes is sought out to help solve a crime--a murder. At first Watson is skeptical, his friend is smart and clever, but is he as good as he claims to be?

The novel is told in three parts. The first and last being narrated by Dr. Watson. The middle section is told in third person. It is a tragedy that focuses on John Ferrier, his daughter, Lucy, and Lucy's would-be-husband, Jefferson Hope. John and Lucy are rescued from sure-death by a group of Mormons on their way west to Utah. Their rescue is conditional, however. John Ferrier must promise unconditionally to join their faith, to follow their laws and regulations, to obey their leaders and elders in all things. He agrees--what choice does he really have? Lucy is just a small girl when they are rescued. On the surface, he appears to conform as he should. He becomes a respected part of the community even. But. He still refuses to marry anyone. Secretly afraid, that if he agrees to marry one woman, he'd soon be pressured to take additional wives. And that is something that in good faith he cannot do. He's worried about Lucy as well. Knowing that when she's all grown, she'll be expected to marry into the community, most likely into a plural marriage arrangement. The two hope, for a little while, that Jefferson Hope may change all that. Hope loves Lucy so very much, and she loves him. But their daring plan of escape isn't so successful...

I honestly can't decide what I think about A Study in Scarlet. It was short. I liked that. But I can't say that I "loved" Sherlock Holmes OR Dr. Watson. Not that you have to love the detective in a mystery novel--though it sure helps!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Mari - Escape In A Book said...

I read this one last year and I really enjoyed it. I always find it so fascinating that mystery books written so long ago still entertains :)

Kailana said...

I liked it, but I thought the part in the middle was really random. I got to it and I thought there was a problem with my copy of the book! I liked The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes better... I haven't read any more than the first three yet, so can't say anything about the rest of the series, but I really like Holmes. I started that with the Laurie King series, though.

Becky said...

Kailana, I know exactly what you mean. I even considered returning it to the library unread because it was so odd to me. I eventually looked it up online and read about it--and saw that yes, it was supposed to be there. So then I pushed through it. But still. Not exactly what I was expecting!