A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet



The Pequod Review:

Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) introduced Sherlock Holmes and John Watson to the world with his first novel A Study in Scarlet. When the pair meet in Chapter 1, Holmes's trademark intelligence and eccentricity were already apparent:

There was only one student in the room, who was bending over a distant table absorbed in his work. At the sound of our steps he glanced round and sprang to his feet with a cry of pleasure. “I’ve found it! I’ve found it,” he shouted to my companion, running towards us with a test-tube in his hand. “I have found a re-agent which is precipitated by hemoglobin, and by nothing else.” Had he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could not have shone upon his features. 

“Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said Stamford, introducing us. 

“How are you?” he said cordially, gripping my hand with a strength for which I should hardly have given him credit. “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.” 

“How on earth did you know that?” I asked in astonishment. 

“Never mind,” said he, chuckling to himself. “The question now is about hemoglobin. No doubt you see the significance of this discovery of mine?” 

The story that follows is a short detective mystery involving a murder at Lauriston Gardens. The mystery itself is good, although the narrative is oddly constructed with an awkward flashback to the murderer’s earlier life in Mormon Utah. Doyle would improve as a storyteller and stylist in his later stories, but A Study in Scarlet nonetheless captures the early magic of Holmes, Watson and 221B Baker Street.