A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle


Title: A Study in Scarlet
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Original Publication Date: 1887
Genre: mystery, classic

Warning: Spoilers for a nearly 150 year old book can be found below.

From the fine folks at Goodreads:

When Dr John Watson takes rooms in Baker Street with amateur detective Sherlock Holmes, he has no idea that he is about to enter a shadowy world of criminality and violence. Accompanying Holmes to an ill-omened house in south London, Watson is startled to find a dead man whose face is contorted in a rictus of horror. There is no mark of violence on the body yet a single word is written on the wall in blood. Dr Watson is as baffled as the police, but Holmes’s brilliant analytical skills soon uncover a trail of murder, revenge and lost love…

I listened to the audiobook read by David Timson.

The Good

  • It’s nearly impossible for me to evaluate the book outside of the larger context of Sherlock adaptations. I mean… if I didn’t think that the BBC Sherlock was EVERYTHING, would I have even read the book, much less enjoyed it as much as I did? All of the good points I can come up with are to do with how the book relates to adaptations: We get to see the Sherlock and Watson meet-cute!; Sherlock talks about the brain attic!; Study in Scarlet v. Study in Pink v. Study in Emerald – who did it best? So, in a total fail as person-who-writes-about-books… This book is good because it’s about Sherlock Holmes. That’s all I got.

The Bad

  • Surprise Mormons! About a third of the way through the book, the story shifts to an extended flashback involving a bunch of evil, wife-stealing Mormons in Utah. It totally throws off the pacing and makes this super short book feel almost long. I’m also not sure why we are spending so much time with the characters in this flashback in a book where Doyle is introducing us to Sherlock and Watson!
  • I suspect this is how British people feel when listening to American actors with British accents, but good lord the American accents in the Mormon section of the audiobook were painful!

The Verdict

3/5 stars. Totally worth the read if you’re a Sherlock fan.


  1. Have you read ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’? The short stories are great and fairly quick reads.


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