So for the Holmes in a Year readathon the next thing up was A Study in Scarlet. I wasn’t going to read it, because I read it a couple years ago and didn’t think that much of it, but I reread my lousy review (okay, I don’t think it’s lousy, I just re-reread it and said much the same as now) and that and the fact I couldn’t remember it after only two years I decided to read it again. It’s pretty short. A fastish read. And it starts off great – we meet Holmes and Watson and they meet each other. A body turns up in an abandoned house in Brixton and Holmes does his thing to the admiration of Watson. LeStrade apparently looks like a weasel. There are two Scotland Yard detectives who follow the wrong paths while Holmes follows the right one. It’s quite enjoyable though any number of his deductions are dubious at best. Study in Scarlet is the first Holmes book, though we’re reading them not as Doyle wrote them, but as Holmes presumably lived them. And he springs to life fully created. The Holmes we all know and love is right there from the opening pages. My problem with this book is the long chapters in the second part that fill in the back story in tremendous and, to me, tedious detail. It goes off a cliff when it switches abruptly to 50 years earlier in the American West. A man and a young girl are saved from imminent doom in the desert by the Mormons heading out to found Salt Lake City. The Mormons are willing to save them if the man and his adopted daughter follow their creed. So they do, but they don’t really believe it and this leads to trouble down the line. But the Mormons are not to be trifled with. They are portrayed as pretty darned evil and the root cause of the murder 50 years later.
Having Scarlet fresh in my mind I rewatched a Study in Pink – the first Sherlock episode.
Very interesting to see what was kept and how it was used in the modern story. There’s the obvious – an Army doctor wounded in Afghanistan and the world’s only consulting detective – but there are less obvious things. People being poisoned, but how. In the new one they are apparently suicides. There’s the letters r-a-c-h-e written at the scene of the crime. There are the pills — which I can’t talk about because it’s a spoiler for either one, but I like what was done with that idea in the new version even though in both versions it’s basically unbelievable. (I was going to say ‘hard to swallow’ but I restrained myself. Aren’t you lucky?)
So, overall, A Study in Scarlet is half entertaining, maybe two-thirds. A Study in Pink is highly entertaining although actually ludicrous as well. So, if you haven’t seen it, stop reading, but I need to note these things down for myself if for no one else. [Spoiler] The point where the police are there and they figure out the phone is there too and no one pays any attention to the cabbie that just pulled up is moronic. I realize everyone but Sherlock is supposed to be not all that bright, but they’re not complete idiots and yet… there they are. [/Spoiler]
So both have flaws, but both are worthwhile if you cut them some slack and particularly if taken together.