Bored in class one day, I decided to find a Sherlock Holmes story online and read it. I’m pretty sure I’ve read nearly all the Holmes stories before, but it’s been so long I can’t properly remember. I don’t normally write reviews for rereads, but though I’m not sure if this is a proper re-read or not I wasn’t particularly interested in writing reviews for the series. So I thought instead it might be fun to do a sort of compilation post of the things I noticed while reading whatever, much like when I was reading The Woman in White in January.
So! I’m calling this series Rereading Holmes, and I’m starting with A Study in Scarlet, the very first Holmes story. I’m reading this online copy, though I do have a complete Holmes book somewhere. (It’s hardback, double-columned and kind of unwieldy. I tend to forget where I’ve left it for months at a time.)
This format does sort of assumes you’ve already a) read the book or b) seen a movie/TV show that adapts it. I don’t know how interesting this’ll actually be, but I’ve stuck in some pictures anyhow to try and keep things spicy.
Chapter 1: In Which Holmes and Watson Meet
- Epic meeting between Holmes and Watson!!
- Funny how whats-his-face is all “you should totally live with him (Holmes) but he’s nutzoid so…yeah.”
- Things noticed about Holmes: Holmes’ stained hands (stains which can’t come out?), the various cuts and bandages, how enthusiastic he is to meet Watson and about his work
- How rich is Holmes? Why does he need a roommate? Isn’t his family some noble-thing– or am I transposing that from fandom? Whats-his-face says he needs help paying rent, so maybe he spends all his money on chemicals and things.
Chapter 2: In Which Watson Adjusts to Being Holmes’ Roommate
- lol Watson not asking Holmes what he does for a living. Isn’t that, like, the FIRST THING you’d ask your new roommate? To know if they’ll have enough money to pay their own rent? But I guess it’s some Victorian thing to not ask people basic personal details.
- Watson is all “Who are all these strange people coming in and out of our apartments?!” I think he thinks Holmes is a drug dealer, for real.
- Holmes doesn’t know about the universe, but then how often does that come up in Victorian mysteries anyway? Hardly ever.
- “You see I have a lot of special knowledge which I apply to the problem, and which facilitates matters wonderfully. Those rules of deduction laid down in that article which aroused your scorn, are invaluable to me in practical work. Observation with me is second nature.”
- “It is simple enough as you explain it,” I [Watson] said, smiling.” — I think this drives Holmes nuts? Where did I read that? I remember him being all, “yeah it’s simple when I tell you how I did it, but you couldn’t do it so how simple was it really?” Is that fandom again?
- Other famous literary detectives, Dupin, Lecoq. Holmes hates them, which made me giggle. Was Conan Doyle this antagonistic to other detective novels?
- Plus it’s funny that later detective novels’ authors are so antagonistic to Sherlock Holmes. It just all circles around, doesn’t it?
Chapter 3: In Which the Mystery Finally Starts
- “There still remained some lurking suspicion in my mind, however, that the whole thing was a pre-arranged episode, intended to dazzle me, though what earthly object he could have in taking me in was past my comprehension.” lol, Watson.
- It’s nice how Holmes knows Watson wants to come along and then he takes him. He’s not as mean to Watson as some people make him out to be. He wants to be friends!
- Conan Doyle writes really excellent descriptions: “Number 3, Lauriston Gardens wore an ill-omened and minatory look. It was one of four which stood back some little way from the street, two being occupied and two empty. The latter looked out with three tiers of vacant melancholy windows, which were blank and dreary, save that here and there a “To Let” card had developed like a cataract upon the bleared panes. A small garden sprinkled over with a scattered eruption of sickly plants separated each of these houses from the street, and was traversed by a narrow pathway, yellowish in colour, and consisting apparently of a mixture of clay and of gravel. The whole place was very sloppy from the rain which had fallen through the night. The garden was bounded by a three-foot brick wall with a fringe of wood rails upon the top, and against this wall was leaning a stalwart police constable, surrounded by a small knot of loafers, who craned their necks and strained their eyes in the vain hope of catching some glimpse of the proceedings within.” Can’t you just see that in your imagination?
- lol Lestrade. “Rachel,” indeed! It’s that sort of thing that gets you the reputation of being an imbecile, you know. (Holmes even said Lestrade–along with Gregson– is the best detective in Scotland Yard. But obviously he’s not as good as S.H.)
- The whole deduction re: the murderer– if you paid attention to what Holmes was doing once he got to the murder scene, as described by Watson, you can see where he got his info from! It only seems weird when you’re not used to watching massive amounts of crime scene investigation shows. *cough*
Chapter 4: In Which Holmes Explains How He Figures Stuff Out
- And now Holmes has to explain how he found out stuff for the people who DON’T watch CSI (poor Victorians). But he still knows stuff that even people on CSI don’t!
- “I have made a special study of cigar ashes — in fact, I have written a monograph upon the subject. I flatter myself that I can distinguish at a glance the ash of any known brand, either of cigar or of tobacco. It is just in such details that the skilled detective differs from the Gregson and Lestrade type.” See.
- And here Holmes starts to see that Watson is useful! I think this is probably where he decides that having Watson around is a good thing, and so he starts to include Watson more on his cases.
- “You know a conjuror gets no credit when once he has explained his trick, and if I show you too much of my method of working, you will come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary individual after all.” Holmes pretends he’s humble, but really he just wants to be admired.
- “I am afraid, Rance, that you will never rise in the force. That head of yours should be for use as well as ornament.” Oh snap! Holmes shows his fierceness. I’m always surprised no one tries to punch him when he says something like that, but this is idealized Victorian society, after all. No fisticuffs unless it’s against a villain.
- “There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.” Good stuff. Sometimes Conan Doyle can turn a really lovely phrase.
And that concludes part one of Rereading Holmes: A Study in Scarlet. Up next is chapters 5-10!
Drawings found through Google Images. The Victim drawing is from Wikipedia, specifically.