A Study in Scarlet -  Arthur Conan Doyle _A Study in Scarlet_ is an interesting book for several reasons. Here we have the first written adventure of Sherlock Holmes and get both the first introduction to the famous sleuth and his comrade Dr. Watson, as well as details of their first meeting. We are treated to a somewhat humorous précis of Watson’s first impressions of his strange room-mate (detailed in several other reviews) and even manage to see a fledgling Holmes occasionally wrong, or at least not 100% accurate, in some of his initial surmises at the mystery they become embroiled in. We also see the somewhat ambivalent and competitive relationship Holmes has with Scotland Yard and his disdain for the official investigators and their inferior methods of detection.

The mystery itself involves the double homicide of two Americans and an embarrassment of mysterious clues at the place of the first murder. Of course both Scotland Yard detectives assigned to the case manage to make the wrong assumptions and go off in different directions, though Holmes has to grudgingly admit that they “are coming along” and even wonders at one point if they have managed to beat him to the punch when one of his own assumptions seems to have gone awry.

The story is actually in two parts, the first of which covers the initial mystery and the very engrossing portrait of Holmes and his many quirks. Holmes ultimately proves able to solve the mystery by the end of this section in a fashion perhaps more mysterious than the murders themselves. From here we go to a flashback of events separated in both time and space by great distance in order to be given the background of the two murders in London and many readers seem to have a big problem with this. I actually found this section, while certainly a bit jarring at first, to be a well-written and entertaining story in itself. Its chief failings seem to be that a) it is not a story involving Sherlock Holmes, and b) the historicity of some of its facts can be considered somewhat questionable as it turns the early Mormons and their leaders into some kind of nefarious secret society rivalling even the Illuminati or Rosicrucians. I didn’t find either of these elements to be too great of an obstacle personally. I knew that we would return to Holmes & Watson in due course to be provided with our explanations and revelations and if I wasn’t being given a straight history lesson on the true founding of Salt Lake City, then I was certainly given an entertaining tale that was probably more interesting than the facts themselves would have been. The only part of this tale I really found questionable was that a man like Jefferson Hope would simply wait a month for Lucy to die of a broken heart after she’d been abducted and didn’t try to rescue her, even if it proved impossible and meant his death.

The culmination of both stories as they meet in the rooms of Holmes and Watson at 221B Baker Street in London was satisfying and I highly recommend this story. Another 4, or 4.5 star book from Doyle.