"A Study in Scarlet"



by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


“Where there is no imagination, there is no horror.” 

– Sherlock Holmes

I have been in love with admired Sherlock Holmes since I do not know when. So in that sense this review might be slightly mighty biased. Ha. Kidding. I have tried to review it with as level a head as possible. But of course I couldn’t contain my excitement at the fact that finally, finally, I was actually turning the pages of the first novel in the Holmes series. I don’t know when exactly I was introduced to Sherlock Holmes, and why I never actually sought out the book to read. I simply marvelled over the character – a man who can deduce almost anything simply from his inscrutable attention to the minute (and seemingly mundane) details? That, to me, is awesome. It is as Benedict Cumberbatch (the guy who plays Sherlock Holmes in the new BBC series SHERLOCK) says, a “very achievable superpower”. 



Yay, Benedict Cumberbatch!



I think that’s what fascinated me. It is possible for anyone to do this – we just have to look hard enough. As Holmes says in this novel: “You look, you but you do not observe.”  Yes!  Yes, you are so right, Mr. Holmes. As always.  *sigh* (That is a sigh of simultaneous exasperation and admiration as only Holmes can inspire.)

So. Less gushing and more reviewing. Onwards, then.

I was so excited to see where it all stared. Being the obsessed fangirl Holmes admirer that I am, I had a huge grin plastered on my face the instant Holmes appeared – heck, even before he appeared, the grin was there when he was described to Watson as being “a little queer in his ideas”.

It all starts with Watson needing cheap lodgings, and coming in the way of a man who introduces him to Homes who is in need of a roommate. The first encounter is a pleasant enough one. Not to mention intriguing, as Homes states enigmatically – and accurately – to Watson “You have come from Afghanistan, I perceive.” 

I can see how Holmes could come across as quite arrogant and disdainful of others in the same field of work, but I felt he was simply being honest. Albeit a little brutally, but honest, nonetheless. He doesn’t just go around stating the extent of his abilities without being asked – and, I’d like to point out, Watson does ask him.

Holmes is simply very honest about his abilities and the means with which they can be acquired if people only had the patience. He doesn’t state that none can be like him, only that none choose to be like him. As I quoted before “You look, but you do not observe.” 

The mystery itself was intriguing – the only drawback was that I was trying to solve it, in my own little way, as I went along but became distracted by Holmes’ quirka, and Watson’s initial incredulity and indignation, and his eventual surprise and admiration at his new acquaintance’s abilities.

I guess it’s my long flourishing love of all things Holmes, but throughout the entire duration of my reading this novel, everything was so wonderfully vivid in my mind’s eye. Most of all, the man himself. Of course, a lot of it has to be credited to he who must be named, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Isn’t that mustahce just the icing to top off that delicious literary cake?


Some lines from the book which made me chuckle:  

‘“It would be robbing you of the credit of the case if I was to presume to help you,” remarked my friend (Holmes). “You are doing so well now that it would be a pity for any one to interfere.” There was a world of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke.’
 
At the crime scene, the word ‘Rache’ has been written in blood, and one of the investigators, Lestrade, becomes all excited and full of himself with the idea that he has figured out that it involves some Miss Rachel. Holmes does a suitable job of shutting him up: “One other thing, Lestrade,” he added…“ ‘Rache’ is the German for ‘revenge’; so don’t lose your time looking for Miss Rachel.” With which Parthia shot he walked away, leaving the two rivals open-mouthed behind him.’
 
Being an astronomy student this following dialogue really made me chuckle.
‘ “But the Solar System!” I protested.
“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently: “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon, it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.” ’

And one last thing, that made my mind cry ‘How so true!’ 
“You see,” he explained, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes acorss, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other thing, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that the little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

If everyone followed Holmes’ reasoning, this world would probably be the smoothest running system ever. 

5 out of 5 stars because I’m an obsessed fan girl like that.
 

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