At the start of the year I read Hound of the Baskervilles, my first foray into actual Sherlock on the page, and I bloody loved it! I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it and disappointed by how long I hadn’t read it for, how long I had missed out on having it in my life as one of my favourite books. It was genuinely utter perfection. And so here I am on my second Sherlock and this is where I should have started because this is the first book, this is when John Watson first meets Sherlock and they take a set of room at 221B Baker Street.
But first to the blurb.
“The very first of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, a Study in Scarlet reveals the early days of Holmes and Watson’s friendship, and exactly how the former doctor became involved in a life of crime-solving. A body is found in a grimy house in south London, its face twisted by fear and horror with the word ‘RACHE’ scrawled on the wall in blood beside it – yet the corpse itself is completely unscathed. How did this man meet such a strange and terrible end? The answer is darker than anyone could imagine”.
I felt immediately at home when I started reading because I love the BBC’s version of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Having never read any Sherlock and only engaged myself with the visual versions on tv or film I was surprised to find how perfectly respectful the BBC version is to the original. The opening scene of the book introduces us to John Watson, an army doctor returning from the war, injured and alone. He bumps into a friend in London and they talk about John’s situation and John mentions that he needs to find some accommodation. The friend tells him he is the second person that day to speak of finding rooms and so John insists on meeting this chap who sounds perfect. His friend comments that he clearly hasn’t met Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock and John inspect the rooms together and take them on. And thus begins the intoxicating partnership that is Holmes and Watson!
Holmes and Watson set to work on investigating the discovery of a body in an abandoned house and the later discovery of a body in a hotel room. Of course Holmes somehow works out on did these awful crimes and we turn later in the book to learn the back story and what fuelled the murderer to carry out the most heinous of crimes.
I have to say that I am so pleased that I read Baskervilles first. That novel is perfection and clearly written by a man at the height of his game. Scarlet is fabulous because we are introduced to the main characters that we know we love and we start out on the adventure with them. But it’s not as great as Baskervilles and I found it a bit dull at times compared to Baskerville which sparkled from the start and all the way through. As I understand it the history of Sherlock is that Doyle killed off Sherlock because he was fed up with him and wanted to write other stuff. The public reaction to this was one of horror and tremendous disappointment and the pressure was such that Doyle re-animated his famous character in Baskervilles. Clearly by this stage Doyle had been working on Sherlock stories for years and that shines out in Baskervilles. So I am glad I started there because it showed me how to love the books. Don’t get me wrong, Scarlet was great it just wasn’t amazing.
What’s your favourite Sherlock story? I have the rest to read and wondered if I should do them in order or go to another great one?