A Study in Scarlet

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Review by: Laura Roewe

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Conan Arthur Doyle, resides as the opening book for the iconic Sherlock Holmes series. While not lengthy in stature, this quick read introduces the new series in an entertaining matter that enthralls its readers and quenches any thirst for a murder mystery. Despite it not holding a place in my personal top ten, this literary work is still a fantastic read, should one be in the mood for crime and murder.

The book opens on the returning army-doctor, John Watson, and his search for a place to stay. When introduced to Sherlock Holmes, an eccentric scientist and self-proclaimed ‘consulting detective’, the two decide to share Sherlock’s flat. From that point on, John is swept up in an engrossing story plot that is sure to keep readers on their toes till the next chapter.

Luckily, this novel has also been written well and does a swell job of giving to-the-point descriptions and intertwining humor throughout the plot. Characters are introduced accordingly and with purpose, and every action is given a reason. This particularly straightforward writing allows the reader to see the entire picture and understand any complicated matters.

However, everything usually includes a weak link, with no exception here. While written fantastically, one problem arises with the organization, depending on the reader’s opinion. The book is split into Part I and Part II, each with different settings, characters, and story plots, with the intention of explaining the murder. Thus, this singular book can actually be broken down into two separate short stories connected simply by murder. Had Doyle included the backstory on the murder as a flashback, the problem would have been resolved. Sadly, what truly happened was a sudden jump of perspectives, which the reader had to discover for themselves as a flashback. Even with this issue, the book’s entertainment and written factors keep it in my high graces.

After reading this classic, it is easy to understand why so many take particular enjoyment out of reading this selection (as opposed to other must reads I cannot help but question). To wrap thing up I give this book a four out of five stars and PG-13 rating. These numbers are based on the fact that, for the rating, Sherlock happens to be an opium addict and murder is a plot point; while for the stars, the fact that I was highly entertained by murder mystery (one of my least favored genres) shows it was written well.