Book Reviews

Review — A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Book title: A Study in Scarlet
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Series: Sherlock Holes, #1
Publisher: First published by Ward Lock & Co.
Release date: First published in 1887
Format: Email subscription, 45 installments
Source: Daily Lit.


Note: The cover I am using for this review does not reflect the copy of the book I read.


In the debut of literature’s most famous sleuth, a dead man is discovered in a bloodstained room in Brixton. The only clues are a wedding ring, a gold watch, a pocket edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron, and a word scrawled in blood on the wall. With this investigation begins the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Their search for the murderer uncovers a story of love and revenge-and heralds a franchise of detective mysteries starring the formidable Holmes.

The review:

I am spoiled. So deeply and utterly spoiled by the BBC television series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Sherlock is my absolute favorite show of all time. It’s hilarious, it’s smart, it’s thrilling, it’s executed flawlessly. It is brilliant and genius. Therefore, I knew going into the classic mystery that it just wasn’t going to be able to live up to my incredibly high and unattainable expectations.

That being said, the book is definitely fun, and well written. In a way it actually helped that I pictured Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters as Benedict and Martin and the other actors from the show, because it made the story much easier for me to dive into.

A Study in Scarlet is actually two stories, really. The first half of the book is Dr. John Watson getting situated in a London flat with the eccentric Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Mr. Holmes helps Scotland Yard solve crimes, and Watson finds himself unexpectedly along for the ride.

It was terrifically fun seeing how the Sherlock episode, “A Study in Pink”, paralleled and built upon the novel’s original story. Obviously, Sherlock is set in present-day London, but it was amazing seeing what the book inspired. The scene where Sherlock makes spot-on deductions about a watch/clock is almost identical between the book and TV show. I absolutely loved reading about that.

The book’s downfall, for me, was its second half, which is a flashback chronicling part of the criminal’s life. I didn’t care about what had happened to him, I just wanted to go back to John and Sherlock! This part of the book was a bore for me, and while I did read it all and digest most of it, it was a big let-down.

In the very last bit of the book where we go back to the present timeline with Sherlock and John, I was so relieved. And then the book was over. Perhaps other books in this series don’t feature flashbacks as much — I personally am not a fan of flashback sequences, and certainly not ones that take up an entire half of the book.

A Study in Scarlet was not a favorite classic I’ve ever read, but I’m glad to have finally read a Sherlock Holmes mystery. The first half of the book was definitely pretty fun, and I’m interested in continuing with Sherlock and John’s adventures sometime. But, for now, I’m much more invested in the BBC Sherlock, and I am happy with experiencing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous stories through a different medium for now. ♦

So tell me…

Have you read A Study in Scarlet? If you haven’t, would you be interested to? What’s your favorite Sherlock Holmes adaptation/version of any sort? Comment below letting me know! And, as always, happy reading!

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4 thoughts on “Review — A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

  1. Honestly, I’m not sure I ever COULD read these books! I mean, I love BBC’s Sherlock SO MUCH, and like you said — how could anything, really, live up to our freakishly high standards? I also recently watched and loved the first season of Elementary (although different to Sherlock, definitely enjoyable to watch.) So yeah, I don’t think I’d ever read this one, but I might be enticed into reading them one day. ^_^


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