Wednesday 2 November 2022

Doyle, Arthur Conan "A Study in Scarlet"

Doyle, Arthur Conan "A Study in Scarlet" - 1887

We read this in our international online book club in October 2022.

I hardly ever read crime stories. I like to watch them on TV but they don't do much for me in written form. Now, this was chosen for our book club this month. Even on television, Sherlock Holmes has never been my favourite, except for the version with Benedict Cumberbatch but that has more to do with the actor than the stories (they called it "A Study in Pink" to make sure nobody complains, I guess).

Anyway, I read the chosen novel and found there was a huge difference between the book and the film, as usual. I quite liked the part where they explain how the murder came to pass, that was changed in the series, at least in my memory.

Still, it wasn't a bad book and if I enjoyed crime stories, I probably would love this. So, I can recommend it to anyone who likes this genre.

Some comments from other members of the book club:

  • Me, I love the character of Sherlock Holmes. He reminds me of so many smart people I know!It was very enjoyable.
  • A Study in Scarlet has aged well! The distinctive characters, their diverse interpretations of events, their small motivations, the intriguing clues, the unfolding of Holmes's revelations all combine to create such a satisfying tale. For me there was also an echo every few pages of my first reading, back when the world was young.
  • Does anyone know, if the depiction of the oppressive nature of Mormon culture was accurate?
  • Apparently the mormone culture was at the time of the writing of the book big shocking news in the British press, especially about the Danite faction.
  • The way Doyle described the Mormons reminded me of Scientology. When I worked for the airlines, I visited Salt Lake City, went to the temple and listened to their spiel. Utah is definitely composed of a very tight knit Mormon community to this day. Unfortunately, when they told their history at the Temple they failed to mention the darker side of this group which I no doubt existed in the wild west although I have no factual evidence. I loved the book although, it is interesting that a good portion of it was a digression into the Mormons. The rest of his books generally focus on Sherlock and Watson and their escapades. I love how he portrays the sincere bumbling of the constabulary. Enjoyed it so much.

From the back cover:

"When Dr John Watson takes rooms in Baker Street with amateur detective Sherlock Holmes, he has no idea that he is about to enter a shadowy world of criminality and violence. Accompanying Holmes to an ill-omened house in south London, Watson is startled to find a dead man whose face is contorted in a rictus of horror. There is no mark of violence on the body yet a single word is written on the wall in blood. Dr Watson is as baffled as the police, but Holmes's brilliant analytical skills soon uncover a trail of murder, revenge and lost love . . ."


  1. I read the Sherlock Holmes series of books back in my 20's. I think they really challenged my earlier view that Classics had to be 'difficult'. I intend starting to re-read them next year. I think my Dad got me into Sherlock as he was a BIG fan of the Basil Rathbone films (as am I now).

    1. I love it when books entice us to read more and go on a journey to more stuff. I'm not a huge fantasy fan but I've seen how many kids started to become avid readers after discovering Harry Potter. And then more. So, whatever works and if it's Sherlock Holmes' fault that you love reading and are doing this blog, thank you, Sherlock!

  2. His take on Mormons in this story is interesting but not accurate. I know, because I live in Utah and am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as were my pioneer ancestors. But this is still a pretty fun mystery. I haven't actually read too many of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, though I do think he's an interesting character. And I totally agree with you about Benedict Cumberbatch! :D

    1. Oh, thanks, Lark, that's great. I know several of your fellow believers but nobody who read the book, so that doesn't help. I have read books by ex-mormons but they were from the extreme group, so maybe he's talking about them. Still, it's nice to hear your comment. And if you want to elaborate further, the book club was very interested in it.
      This was the first Sherlock Holmes story I read, and probably the last, if none of my book club decides to read another one, I'm not much into reading crime stories and probably would be reading another Agatha Christie if I had to.
      Anyway, nice to hear you like Benedict. If you haven't seen this, here is a clip from the Graham Norton show where he imitates otters. So cute!

    2. If you want to read two short articles about that part of Doyle's story and the Danites he talks about, here are two links:

      And thanks for the youtube link! It was very cute. :D

    3. Thank you very much for that, Lark. I will read it and pass it on to the members. Of course, we might have found it through googling but you can never be sure whether that is correct or not. Now, coming from an "insider", we can see it with other eyes. And we had an open mind already, otherwise this question would have never been raised. So, thanks a lot.