Friday, May 10, 2013

Review Me Twice - A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I have never read a Sherlock Holmes book before this.  And, to be honest, I'm not sure that I'm going to read one after it.  

That's not to say that it was a terrible book; it wasn't.  Doyle writes very well, keeps the pace moving.  His characters are interesting and, Holmes especially, is very mysterious (and he's a conceited Jack Ass.  But I like that about him.)  Watson is a perfect juxtaposition to Holmes.  

But, like a lot of books written over 100 years ago, it is very much a product of it's time.  The plot, going along nicely, suddenly stopped mid-story for about 50 pages of Mormon bashing (Well, maybe less.  It's about half the book that this happens.)  And, ok yes, the story line was relevant to the story, but... still, pages of religion bashing.  I mean, it doesn't make me that mad, I understand WHY it shows up.  In 1887 everyone hated the Mormons and constantly forced them out of their homes and basically had no idea what they were and figured them for an occult and murderers (which is what Doyle basically says they are.)  Ergo, book is a product of its time.

Also, the transition into this back story was kind of terrible.  One second Holmes was telling me he had solved the case, and the next it was back story.  There was a Part II title, but I think the problem arose because I was in an anthology.  I have all of the Holmes work, so I wasn't sure if I was starting a new story or I was still in the old one (it's honestly that different.)

I might read one of the short stories, but the book wasn't exactly a page turner.

My Bottom Line 2.5 out of 5

I've always found it to be an unusual feeling to actually read something that is so ingrained in our culture. Sherlock Holmes is such a classic, people parody him without even realizing it. So it's weird to read the original text.

I liked Holmes more than I thought I would. He's a genius at observation and deduction, to the exclusion of other characteristics considered important by his peers, like knowledge of politics, and some basic social interaction skills. He has eclectic habits, but he's straightforward, about them and everything else (except when he's still piecing together the mystery).

It is very strange to find yourself, in the middle of a book and immediately after being told that hey, we found the guy whodunnit, here he is, reading an entirely different story. It was fairly obvious that we were dropped into a different narrative line that would lead to the same point, more or less, but it's still a jarring experience. I don't know if the rest of the Holmes books do this, but once you're familiar with the technique, and you expect it, it wouldn't be quite so bad.

All in all, I liked the book more than I thought I would, and I was compelled to find out the solution to the mystery, but I won't be running out to find the rest of the Holmes books.

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