December 30, 2009

A Study in Scarlet - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

After recently watching the new Sherlock Holmes movie I was motivated to start reading some of the books. The movie whetted my appetite for the characters of Holmes and Watson but I had a feeling that the literature versions would suit me even more. So many of you gave me good advice about where to start with the Holmes books and I followed along and chose the first book, A Study in Scarlet to begin my Holmes reading. My partner and I were lucky enough to receive a Borders gift voucher for Christmas from a very clever relative so we splurged and bought The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes - a gorgeous hard cover book although a little heavy to carry around on a daily basis so I did my reading of A Study in Scarlet at night in bed.

The book introduces not only the characters of Holmes and Watson but also their relationship with each other - I admit it was hard to get Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law's faces out of my head while reading but I think I did manage to create my own versions of these very famous characters.

As someone who is extremely dense when it comes to mystery novels I am always amazed by authors in this genre and the imagination and intelligence they display in creating their plots. I am thankful for the work of the author in this case as he has Watson and Holmes clearly explain their thoughts and actions at the end of the mystery for the benefit of the reader. I realise that some people might find this extremely annoying but I found it helpful and it increased my enjoyment of the book. Is this a style that occurs all through the Holmes books and stories??

I really enjoyed this short book - I thought it was a great introduction to the characters and the world of Sherlock Holmes. I am so glad I have purchased the whole collection because I know I will be reading more of these.


Anonymous said...

Oooh you beat e to it, I am planning on reading this over the weekend and reporting back soon. That omnibus edition looks delightful. I hope I enjoy my foray back into Sherlock Holmes as much as you did with your first read!!

stockdove said...

Hello! I just stumbled onto your lovely blog :) All Sherlock Holmes stories do follow a formula, but they are still incredibly clever and compelling. I love to read mystery books in the winter - it's so cozy and somehow comforting :) If you haven't read too many mystery books before, try Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone - it's a fantastic Victorian detective novel. Happy reading :)

Stacy said...

I am so glad you enjoyed your first Holmes. I too have a difficult time getting movie versions out of my head when reading books...the actors from the musical film Oliver were in my head the whole time I read Oliver Twist. I love that edition of Holmes. I bought a complete edition and found the same challenge of carrying around all that weight while reading:)

Karen said...

Hi Simon - I hope you enjoy your re-reading of Holmes! I'm certainly glad that I have discovered him now - I'm wondering what took me so long??

Hi stockdove - Welcome! So lovely to meet you. I don't mind that the books have a formula - I kind of like that, it means I know what to expect and sometimes I like that in my reading.

Hi Book Psmith - It happens for me whenever I see the movie before reading the book! You have reminded me that I will probably have the stage show actors from Oliver in my head when I read the book this year!!

Steph said...

Really glad to hear you enjoyed this one, Karen; I did too! I am by no means a Sherlock expert, but I am slowly going through the novellas/stories in chronological order and based on my small sampling the methodical explanation of Holmes's reasoning process does continue throughout - Watson is always in the dark like us readers, so he always gets Holmes to enlighten us!

I didn't like The Sign of Four quite as much as I did this one (the next thing to read if going in order), but the short stories after that one are really good fun.

Unknown said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your first exposure to a true Holmes tale, and have good news for you - the stories get even better!

In fact, that first story (A Study in Scarlet) was only rated 3rd of the 4 Holmes novels by Sherlockian experts. And most people agree that the short stories are better than the novels. You can see a list of the best Sherlock Holmes stories that has the details for both the novels and the short stories.

For many people it's actually better to start by reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, since that collection has the first of the short stories and the largest number of the best stories overall. However, since you've already read A Study in Scarlet and have the entire set of 60 stories, it makes sense for you to just read them in order - you will find the next story, The Sign of the Four, to be even better than the first, and then you will continue into the short stories.


Karen said...

Hi Steph - thanks for helping me out in where to start with Sherlock! I think I will pace myself with them - I can see if I read them all at once I would probably get a little tired of them and they would lose their magic I think.

Hi Randall - thanks a lot for your informative comment!