Monday, April 29, 2013

A Study in Scarlet

Book: A Study in Scarlet
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Edition: Gutenberg
Read: April 2013
178 pages
Rated: 4 out of 5

Dr. Watson, meet Mr. Holmes, and the Bake Street Irregulars. Doyle introduces us to both of these characters, with Holmes ability to analyze and work back to the origins, and Watson's ability to be baffled by his friends abilities.

Two men are murdered with the London police chasing after the wrong clues. Holmes solves and catches the murderer in front of the detectives. But that is only half of the story. Doyle goes on and tells why, through the mouth of a third party and the eyes of the murderer. While Holmes does not visit Utah, the reader does and gets exposed to some of Doyle's views on Mormonism.

Did Dolye visit the States? How and where did he get his information on Mormonism? How accurately does Doyle portray the LDS church of this time? About the same time, I read Jon Krakauer's book, Under the Banner of Heaven. There was a lot of similarities of what Krakauer said with how Doyle portrayed this period LDS history.

From what I have read, Doyle did not visit Utah. But was retelling the common rumors of the day concerning Mormonism. Doyle's dauhter thought that her father would say this was a work of fiction and there was all kinds of errors concerning Mormonism. 

The portrayal is a religion which is a law to itself. It is us against them. If you are not part of us, then there is not a concern for you. Also if you turn your back on the faith, you are a deadman. As Krackauer presents things, this is due to the persecuted the LDSchurch faced.

This plays into the plot line of the book. Vengeance leads to murder. But the vengeance is because of an older murder. Doyle explores how vengeance takes over a man's life. This vengeance compels a man across a continent and an ocean. But it does not leave the man in peace, only having a purpose.

Holmes is interesting in that he has a very mechanical, logical mind. There is vast stores of knowledge stored in his brain, but of limited scope-such as geology and botany. But he does not have too much knowledge of literature or music, except for the violin he plays. What does this say about Holmes. He able to deduce the socks off of anybody, but does he enjoy himself? Is he really experiencing being fully human?

This is the original Sherlock Holmes book. It is entertaining and a delight to read. Watson becomes much than just the Holmes biographer; you see him as someone who has confronted danger on his own. But you also see a lot more rawer version of Holmes. Holmes does not have the polish he has in later mysteries. But you learn of his background and why he has the relationship with the police he has.

This is a good and enjoyable read. You will neither be scarred for life by it, or heighten your sense of awareness after reading A Study in Scarlet. But you have have gotten a couple hours of enjoyment.  You could do a lot worse.

Good Quotes:
  • First “IN the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army.
  • Last Line: “In the meantime you must make yourself contented by the consciousness of success, like the Roman miser—”
  • “To a great mind, nothing is little”. Part I, Chp IV, page 73 


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