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A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet -  Arthur Conan Doyle My revisiting of the Sherlock Holmes canon goes to the beginning with A Study in Scarlet, which features the immortal greeting of Holmes to Watson ("You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive") and the beginning of a long relationship between two friends. It is interesting to note that the 1887 appearance of this short novel did not exactly capture the public's attention. The next novel, which I'm about to start, is The Sign of Four, and that one did not do much better. The interest arose with the short stories, of which the initial ones were later pulled together in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which I reviewed last week.A Study in Scarlet is interesting on many levels. The most striking part of it is the fact nearly a third of the book does not involve Holmes or Watson, instead focusing on a father and his adopted daughter who meet up with Brigham Young and the Mormons. An entire story builds in this section which includes Doyle's somewhat patronizing and stereotypic portrayal of American Indians, and the Mormons take a strong beating (in fact, quite literally). When I was younger and reading these stories all the time I began skipping that section, but this time I really paid attention and it shows that Doyle can create a suspenseful plot line, which he often fails to do in some of the stories. The dialogue is at times contrived and sentimental, but considering the time it was written this is not shocking.Holmes comes off how I best like him: intelligent, self-absorbed, egotistical, and rude. Okay, not a recipe for a friend, but what here excels is his honesty. His is smarter than most so why not say it? I'm sure some Sherlockian literature in the recent past has tied his behavior to Asperger's Syndrome, and that would be interesting to read. He seems to clearly deal with Aspergers; it is what also allows him to focus so completely on a matter at hand.What surprised me a few times was the mention of him being young. Watson is by now a doctor with time in Afghanistan and is likely around 30, so Holmes may be in his late 20s. Of course, reading this as a child I would see that as ancient, but as an old man now I see his youth for being just that -- youth. As the stories grow so does his age, and there is a maturing of the young, brash detective in the later works.