Review of A Study in Scarlet

A Study in ScarletA Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One word - unputdownable!


I am not into reading classics, but chanced upon obtaining the first volume of Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories from a friend. To much of my astonishment, a text written in late 19th century turned out to be really engaging.

Not very comfortable in reading fat books, I started reading out the volume in the form of a sample from Kindle store on my Paperwhite. But was left in lurch when it got over abruptly before Scarlet was over. Thankfully, Project Gutenberg came to the rescue and I could finish the first Holmes novel in the form of an ebook itself.

The PG ebook didn’t contain images, but original illustrations can be seen at and Apparently the first ever depiction of Holmes (from the latter link) is the following:

He examined with his glass the word upon the wall, going over every letter of it with the most minute exactness.

About the novel

Apart from an obvious introduction to the iconic detective duo along with their character construction in part 1, Conan Doyle takes us through the entire back story of the antagonist, Jefferson Hope, in part 2. Having known the mystery from the British TV series Sherlock, this came as a complete surprise to me as part 2 seemed to start a totally different story set in America. In fact, I had to make sure I was reading the correct text by flipping through the pages to see if the story converged back to London. Guess, the author used the back story to humanize the killer as when the story finally converges, the reader can already empathize with Hope. There is some critical depiction of Mormons and their customs of the time, and apparently the reason why many adaptations skip the back story. I felt it was like a lesson in history, but interesting to read none the less.

In sum, A Study in Scarlet is not just a detective crime mystery, but also a story of love and revenge, set in two continents and makes it for a very captivating read.

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