Book: A Study in Scarlet


 “From a drop of water,” said the writer, “a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other. So all life is a great chain, the nature of which is known whenever we are shown a single link of it. Like all other arts, the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study, nor is life long enough to allow any mortal to attain the highest possible perfection in it. Before turning to those moral and mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest difficulties, let the inquirer begin by mastering more elementary problems. Let him, on meeting a fellow-mortal, learn at a glance to distinguish the history of the man, and the trade or profession to which he belongs. Puerile as such an exercise may seem, it sharpens the faculties of observation, and teaches one where to look and what to look for. By a man’s finger-nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boots, by his trouser-knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt-cuffs—by each of these things a man’s calling is plainly revealed. That all united should fail to enlighten the competent inquirer in any case is almost inconceivable.”

Sherlock Holmes is always an adventure, and to be able to read about his first appearance is double the pleasure. Like Watson, we are introduced to Sherlock’s eccentric ways in A Study of Scarlet, we unravel the mystery that surrounds him and get into the mind of the genius. I must admit that the TV series has influenced my perception of this particular detective quite a bit, so it was refreshing coming back to the source material and immersing myself in the character that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created.

Sherlock Holmeshis limits

  1. Knowledge of Literature.—Nil.

  2. Knowledge of Philosophy.—Nil.

  3. Knowledge of Astronomy.—Nil.

  4. Knowledge of Politics. —Feeble.

  5. Knowledge of Botany. —Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.

  6. Knowledge of Geology.—Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.

  7. Knowledge of Chemistry.—Profound.

  8. Knowledge of Anatomy.—Accurate, but unsystematic.

  9. Knowledge of Sensational Literature.—Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.

  10. Plays the violin well.

  11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.

  12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.

I really enjoyed this book, it’s vastly different from what I expected, and I appreciated the backstory given to the murderer. It was interesting, exciting and well written. It’s been a quite awhile since I read Sherlock Holmes, the last that I saw of him was in the short story compilation of The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes. That being said, I must admit that I quite like Doyle’s other writings a bit better.  The Tragedy of the Korosko left a deep impression on me, more so than Sherlock. Of course there are still little moments which stand out in this first novel of Holmes,

“What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence,” returned my companion, bitterly. “The question is, what can you make people believe that you have done. Never mind, ” he continued, more brightly, after a pause. “I would not have missed the investigation for anything. There as been no better case within my recollection. Simple as it was, there were several most instructive points about it.”

And that really sums up the book for me. Till the next adventure and mystery with Holmes and Watson. Adieu.

A study in scarlet

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