Book Review: A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

astudyI had attempted to read the Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as a younger person, but usually the old-fashioned prose threw me off, and I had difficulty following it. Recently, I had the pleasure of coming across a free LibriVox recording of the audiobook (the version I listened to is here:, which I very much enjoyed.

The book, narrated by Dr. Watson, begins with Dr. Watson’s account of how he first meets Sherlock Holmes through a mutual acquaintance while seeking a housemate to share the cost of rent. At once, he deduces Holmes to be a peculiar, eccentric, but pleasant man. After they move in together, Watson learns of Holmes’ unique business as a consulting detective. When an American is found murdered in London, and then the American’s assistant is murdered as well, Watson recounts Holmes’ journey to uncovering the murderer.

Part II was my favorite, however. We depart from London and visit the pioneering American southwest with a new set of characters, including the murderer. The story becomes a romantic western tragedy against a stunningly-described, desolate desert backdrop, sympathetic protagonists, and the (no doubt controversial, yet awful) villains of the story, Brigham Young and the Mormons. The story of John Ferrier and his adoptive daughter Lucy, and the love of Lucy’s life, a “gentile” hunter called Jefferson Hope, pulls at the heartstrings. When the story is through, I didn’t blame the murderer one bit for his actions! I was not expecting the perpetrator to be such a sympathetic protagonist with a cause.

I enjoyed this mystery and look forward to listening to more of Sherlock Holmes’ and Dr. Watson’s classic adventures.

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