Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Several years ago I started reading Doyle's books featuring the iconic detective from Baker Street. But for reasons I can't explain, I read the first four stories and then never went back to find out what happened to Holmes after plummeting over the waterfall with Moriarty. (Sorry, but I'm not going to include spoiler alert warnings for a book written in the 1890s.)

I was recently introduced to the BBC's series Sherlock featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, and having enjoyed it as much as I did, and recognizing that there will probably be an extended waiting period until the third season arrives, I decided it was time to go back and read them all this time around.

 A Study in Scarlet is the story that introduced the world to Sherlock Holmes. In it he takes up residence with Dr. John Watson, who is quickly pulled into Holmes's world of deductive reasoning and crime solving. Holmes has established himself to Scotland Yard and every other police agency in London, as the man to go to when the solution to a mystery is beyond their abilities.

This mystery involves a murder. The body was found surrounded by blood. But the blood didn't come from the victim, as there were no wounds on the body. Written in blood on the wall was the word RACHE and a small gold ring, too small for the victim's hands, was found nearby. How did the man die? Who's blood was at the scene? What's the meaning of the word in blood? And what does it all have to do with those peculiar Mormons thousands of miles away?

Interesting to me is the fact that A Study in Scarlet has been the source of debate because of its not-so-flattering portrayal of Mormons. As recently as August 2011 it's been banned from public libraries (and not in Utah) because of it. As a Mormon myself, I'm baffled at how anyone today could take offense to it. If anything, it added to my enjoyment of the story.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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