Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet, 1887.

I recently acquired the Annotated Sherlock Holmes, and have begun making my way through the stories I enjoyed so much when I was younger. The four novels, though, are not in the first two volumes of the ASH: they'll appear in the third volume, due to be published around November. I wanted to reread A Study in Scarlet, though, because it sets the tenor for the stories.

The story is as I remember it: fun, light, entertaining. It sets up Holmes as the ultimate observer, able to acquire even the minutest detail and then--the important bit--able to correlate all of the pieces in his mind, thereby assembling a completed jigsaw puzzle that lays out every nuance of the truth.

Despite the Holmesian ideal that has haunted me all my life--I first read this story when I was very young--this story is feather-light, indeed. A murder, the word "Rache" (German for revenge) written in blood on the wall, another dead man, more dead people, evil Mormons, revenge, fair maidens, adopted daughters, long-lost fiancés, etc. All in all, this story is a trite little puzzle that wraps up neatly. It's not a story worth thinking about too closely, in its silliness, but it's one to come back to and to re-enjoy, de temps en temps.