IN the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army.
–Arthur Conan Doyle - A Study in Scarlet - c.1887
Sherlock Holmes #1, available on gutenberg.
In 1881, after returning from Afghanistan Doctor John Watson is in need of rest and recuperation. He is also in need of a place to live, and preferably a house mate to share the cost. Living in London is expensive. An old school friend introduces Watson to Sherlock Holmes and together they take up residence in 221B Baker Street.
At first Watson doesn’t really know what to make of Holmes, whereas Holmes appears to know a lot about Watson. He deduces things. Holmes sometimes assists Scotland Yard as a “consulting detective”, and, being called to the scene of a murder, he brings Watson along to demonstrate his methods. And so begins the famous partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson.
I remember having a collection of classic novels as a child, they were probably abridged, I’m not sure, but there were some of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures among them. The Hound of the Baskervilles for definite, but I’m sure there were a few others. But this is my first reading, as far as I know, of A Study in Scarlet. And I have to say that while I really enjoyed the London bit, Watson’s diary as it were, the section in the middle covering the Mormons and Salt Lake City struck me as rather bizarre.
Possibly that was down to my expectations of what a Sherlock Holmes’ story was, or possibly it was just that it reminded me of Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage which I read a while ago. It also deals with Mormons and the role of women, and people trying to escape Mormon persecution and corruption. Whatever the reason, it just didn’t *feel* like a Sherlock Holmes story, despite it being the first ever written.
Also Jefferson Hope annoyed me. Show Spoiler ▼
So that whole detour through Utah did absolutely nothing for me.
But I did enjoy getting introduced to Sherlock Holmes for the first time. All his little foibles and idiosyncrasies as encountered by Watson for the very first time. And Watson, trying to figure out what Holmes is all about. That was great. And also shows that Holmes is not some unfeeling, arrogant smug git [ref]BBC’s Sherlock, I’m looking at you[/ref]. Sure he thinks he is smarter than everyone else, but he is also aware that there is plenty he doesn’t know. And he is far from unfeeling. I’m looking forward to reading more Sherlock, I’m going to try and read them in publication order, but we’ll see what actually happens.