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A Study in Scarlet

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Book Overview: 

A Study in Scarlet, was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes story. At the beginning of the book, Dr. Watson meets the detective for the first time and we ride along with them to the scene of a murder. The crime baffles the Scotland Yard detectives, but of course Holmes solves it easily. In the second half of the story, the scene shifts to Utah as we learn the murderer’s history. The action returns to London in the last two chapters. In his first adventure, Holmes demonstrates many of the traits for which he later became well known: meticulous study of a crime scene, brilliant deductive reasoning, aptitude for chemistry and music, and the somewhat annoying habit of withholding crucial facts from Watson (and consequently the reader) until the conclusion of the case.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I followed him with that subdued feeling at my heart which the presence of death inspires.

It was a large square room, looking all the larger from the absence of all furniture. A vulgar flaring paper adorned the walls, but it was blotched in places with mildew, and here and there great strips had become detached and hung down, exposing the yellow plaster beneath. Opposite the door was a showy fireplace, surmounted by a mantelpiece of imitation white marble. On one corner of this was stuck the stump of a red wax candle. The solitary window was so dirty that the light was hazy and uncertain, giving a dull grey tinge to everything, which was intensified by the thick layer of dust which coated the whole apartment.

All these details I observed afterwards. At present my attention was centred upon the single grim motionless figure which lay stretched upon the boards, with vacant sightless eyes staring up at the discoloured ceiling. It was that of a man abou. . . Read More