Sherlock Holmes. Those two words carry so much meaning for so many people. Brilliant … Arrogant … Deductive Reasoning … Drug Addict … Master of Disguise … Socially Inept. He’s a a hero and anti-hero at the same time, someone you admire for his skill and loathe for his personality. Today we’ll take a look at the very first Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson adventure.
A Study in Scarlet was originally published in 1887 in Beeton’s Christmas Annual, and was followed a few years later by The Sign of the Four in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. Many of Holmes’ other adventures were serialized in The Strand throughout the end of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries. By now, nearly everyone knows the story of how Doyle, wanting to do something different, killed off his famous detective at the hands of his nemesis, Dr. Moriarity, over Reichenback falls in Germany only to have fans around the world outraged and demand the return of their favorite sleuth. Doyle finally relented after about eight years with The Hound of the Baskervilles, which takes place before Holmes’s supposed death and then The Adventure of the Empty House, in which Homes returns from his “great hiatus.”
In A Study in Scarlet we meet Dr. John Watson who has returned home from the Afghan war and through a chance encounter ends up sharing a flat with Holmes at his soon-to-be-famous address of 221-B Baker St., London. At the first meeting of Holmes & Watson, we are introduced to the great detective’s extraordinary power of observation and deductive reasoning when he tells the doctor “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive,” and the adventures begin. In this first novel there are actually two stories of murder, which Watson relates in his diary. In the first, Holmes consults for Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard when a gruesome murder has taken place and the word “Rache” in written in blood upon the wall. Holmes gives his very specific opinion as to the facts of the case, but soon after another similar murder takes place with same word (German for “revenge” Holmes informs us) written on the wall. Naturally, Holmes solves the case that Scotland Yard could not (yet, they take full credit for it), but I won’t reveal any details about how, so that you can enjoy reading them for yourself. The story then flashes back to 1847 in Utah where we learn of the love between a man and woman in this Mormon part of the united states and how that love was stolen from them by the murder of the girl’s father. Could these two stories possibly be related?
The Guinness World Records has consistently listed Sherlock Holmes as the “most portrayed movie character” with 75 actors playing the part in over 211 films. Whether you prefer the classic Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, considered to be the closest portrayal to Doyle’s writing, the modern action-oriented Robert Downey Jr., or even Brent Spiner as Data on Star Trek the Next Generation (yes, I went there), there is a favorite Sherlock for everyone. Fans of the newest movie will be happy to hear that Holmes’ brother Mycroft and his arch-nemesis Moriarity will both be in the sequel, the latter being played by Mad Men‘s Jared Harris. Recently, BBC has re-booted the character yet again, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, this time set in 21st Century London, where Dr. Watson, recently home from the war in Afghanistan, keeps track of his thoughts and the events of his life, not in a diary, but in a blog. PBS Masterpiece Mystery has been airing the new series for a few weeks and the 3rd episode is scheduled for this Sunday Nov. 7.
Fans of Sherlock may also want to read about his “further adventures” – stories written by modern authors featuring the World’s Greatest Detective – on our reading list: ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Further Adventures‘
Find and reserve A Study in Scarlet in our catalog.