Both the first novel to feature Sherlock Holmes and the first detective story to use a magnifying glass as a tool, A Study in Scarlet was a groundbreaking work in 1887. Stage actor and BBC Radio Drama veteran David Timson performs this 2009 rendition of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic story, voicing Holmes with a daring and perspicacity that draws listeners in to the action. A murder mystery featuring writing on the wall (in blood) as well as historical flashbacks to a Utah where Brigham Young is a pioneer, A Study in Scarlet will charm modern listeners with its shrewd sleuthing and timeless intrigue.
A Study in Scarlet was the very first Sherlock Holmes novel. Here, in the most remarkably precise manner, Doyle produced two of the most well-known characters in English fiction. Their individual traits and their relationships, their ambitions and foibles are introduced against the backdrop of an exciting story of revenge and persistence, which starts in Victorian England but moves to the American West, and the environment of the early Mormon communities.
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"The whole Sherlock Holmes saga is a triumphant illustration of art's supremacy over life." (Christopher Morley)
This is a great story to listen to but the audio can be quite annoying as it has a hiss that sounds each time the voice stops. I listened to the whole book thru and really enjoyed it althought it got a bit confusing when part 2 started as it was difficult to realise that it was in anyway connnected with part 1 for quite a while. As usual, Conan-Doyle doesn't let you down though and it was a great listen....except for that hiss.
I always like to start at the beginning, and with the recent release of the Sherlock Holmes movie, my interest was sparked to find the first Sherlock Holmes novel. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the story in 1886, and it was published the next year. The book's title derives from a speech given by Holmes to his sidekick Doctor Watson on the nature of his work, in which he describes the story's murder investigation as his "study in scarlet": "There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it."
Of particular interest to me was the second part of the story which takes place in the wild frontier of America 1847 and a fantastic and absurd view of the Mormon pioneers. Doyle's depiction of the Latter-day Saints' organization as being steeped in kidnapping, murder and enslavement was laughable. Conan Doyle's daughter has stated: "You know, father would be the first to admit that his first Sherlock Holmes novel was full of errors about the Mormons". Years after Conan Doyle's death, Levi Edgar Young, a descendant of Brigham Young and a Mormon general authority, claimed that Conan Doyle had privately apologized, saying that "He [Conan Doyle] said he had been misled by writings of the time about the Church".
Historical misrepresentation aside, this is a great novel and a terrific murder mystery. Perhaps not the greatest of Doyle's works, but it was entertaining and a the beginning of a great character.
I never realized how efficiently charming and engaging the original Holmes book was, nor was I at all prepared for the sudden detour in the second half, which was incredibly thrilling.
The performer is perfect for the material and characters.
So glad to have found the initial Sherlock/Watson connection. The international, American West, subplot spiced it up nicely. A little Mormon history thrown in, and voila!, the mystery is on!
The narration was perfect. All in all a very enjoyable listen.
I remember reading the entire collected Sherlock Holmes stories when I was about 12. I was a more voracious reader then, able to plow through many books in a short time. I can't seem do that as much nowadays. Thank goodness for audiobooks!
Anyway, the point is that I am pretty sure I read A Study in Scarlet, Doyle's first Holmes/Watson story, many years ago, but I remembered nothing about it.
A Study in Scarlet is a serviceable story, but it is the first Holmes/Watson story and so it's just setting up the characters who will become among the most famous in modern literature. I did appreciate how different the two of them are from common pop culture representations. Holmes, for example, is indeed obsessive, arrogant, and ingenuous, but he's also moody, melancholic, and susceptible to flattery, and certainly not the borderline sociopath or Vulcan detective he's often portrayed as. Watson, meanwhile, is a war hero without much distinction, returned to London and finding himself underemployed, lacking ambition and funds, and so by plot happenstance he winds up renting a flat with Holmes and thus being drawn into Holmes's work.
This story also introduces Inspector Lestrade and the Baker Street Irregulars.
The reason I didn't rate this story higher is twofold. One was just a bit of disappointment in my memory of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "genius" detective. All those media portrayals have Holmes piecing together tiny clues in a fantastic, almost superhuman manner. In Doyle's original work, most of Holmes's brilliant deductions are little more than educated guesses, sometimes based on pretty thin rationales - and yet he's conveniently never wrong.
The story itself is basically a tale of vengeance. An American is found murdered in a London apartment. Scotland Yard is stumped. They come to Holmes to help them figure it out, and he does - whereupon the entire story is told in the past tense by the culprit. This is the other reason I kind of dinged this story - half this novella is really a Western! It's set in the American west, and is a narration of the events that led to the climactic murders in London years later. This part of the tale, while interesting enough, is not a Sherlock Holmes story at all. It is much closer to some of Doyle's other adventure fiction, like The Lost World.
The story also portrays the Mormon church in a particularly lurid and hostile manner, consistent with anti-Mormon sentiment at the time. While I'm sure Brigham Young and his homies were not the saints Mormons consider them to be, I'm skeptical that there was really a Mormon mafia slaughtering gentiles and abducting their women across the West into harem-slavery and murdering all dissidents and apostates.
Notwithstanding any historical inaccuracies and plot contrivances, A Study in Scarlet is still a classic Victorian adventure and an introduction to the world of Holmes and Watson - it's just only half Holmes and Watson.
A spectacular narration of at least 5 different accents makes this first adventure of Watson and Holmes together a delight. When one narrator can make two characters' dialogue clear and believeable, without any tags ("said Watson", "Holmes asked", etc.), I am quite impressed. Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended. Can you piece it together "analytically," as Holmes describes?
I felt like I was cuddling up with some old friends every time I listened.
This book feels a little fractured, but the mystery plays out well in spite of that. It opens on the meeting of Holmes and Watson and how they happened to live together. Quickly they become embroiled in a mystery. They mystery is solved with approximately half the book left, and then there is an account of the back-story of the murderer and victims. Finally, the loose ends are tied into a neat little bow and Holmes and Watson retire back to their happy living arrangement.
I don't usually rush out for all the "best sellers", but give each intriguing book/author a look. I have found many diamonds in the rough.
This story bounced between several different timelines, I found it interesting how they both impacted the outcome of Sherlock's mystery. It was wonderful meeting our two famous characters and taking a step back to see how they first were able to offset eachothers brilliance.
"A must-listen for fans of Sherlock Holmes"
If your enjoy Sherlock Holme's stories you'll enjoy this book as not only is it a first-class story that, by the end, draws all the complex threads together in a satisfying way, but it also gives the background to Holme's scientific approach to sleuthing and how he and Dr Watson came to be a team. The reader is excellent as he carries the listener to and fro across the Atlantic in this epic story.
Sherlock Holmes at his best. Intriguing, captivating, ingenious and charming. I can see why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has stood the test of time. I wonderful listen especially if you want to be entertained and uplifted.
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