So I finally have finished one of my summer reading books. I realized, after making my list, that I’d have to finish a book a week…which usually wouldn’t be a problem. I’ve done it in the past, but apparently I’ve gotten busier or something because its been tricky. However that is neither here nor there. On to the book.
I just finished A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I enjoyed this story, although I was thoroughly confused as to the second half of the book. It seemed to crop out of no where. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so as fair warning SPOILERS AHEAD. The first half introduces us to the odd man that is Sherlock Holmes and a returning war veteran Dr. John Watson. Watson observes Holmes’ various acquaintances and is with him when he is summoned to a crime scene. There they discover a dead man whose face is contoured in anguishing fear. Sherlock methodically scours the scene, both the immediate area as well as out side. Then he quips off some facts that no one else as gleaned. Such as the murderer’s tall and sturdy frame and that they knew one another. Sherlock, after sharing some conclusions with Detectives Lestrade on Gregson heads out to conduct some of his own inquires. After a scene with a woman’s wedding band and a second murder both detectives are back in Homes’ flat. There, after a short while, Holmes’ delivers the murder – much to everyone’s surprise (the murder included).
Then the story shifts to several years before and across the ocean. The narrative picks up in John Ferrier’s point of view as he and a little girl, near death, are found in the Nevada dessert by passing Mormons who are on their way to the promise land. The story gets kind of odd after that, dealing with the Mormon lifestyle and beliefs. Long summary turned short, the girl was adopted by Ferrier and was the prize of all Salt Lake City. Ferrier promised her to Jefferson Hope whom the girl had fallen in love with. The leader of the town didn’t like that and decided that Ferrier had to either give her to his son or another Elder’s son. Ferrier is murdered while he, the girl, and Hope try to flee and the girl is brought back to Salt Lake. She died a month later, from despair. Hope vows then and there to seek vengeance again both of the sons. (One married the girl and the other killed Ferrier.) Of course the two murdered men were the sons. Then the story jumps back to London and ‘present’ time (Sherlock’s time that is) where Hope fills everyone in on what happened after he left Utah. That very night, after being brought to custody Hope dies of an aneurism.Then Watson and Holmes are chatting and he explains analytical thinking versus narrative thinking. Which, seemingly, is his secret. END SPOILERS
Over all I enjoyed the story. The one part that was tricky was the part that took place in Utah. I don’t know enough about Mormon culture to fully understand those parts. I got the gist though, but since I didn’t get it I wish that part of the book would have been wrapped up quicker than it was, but it was still good. And the deductive bits, by all three detectives were so enjoyable it was worth wading through the Utah chapters. I think what I didn’t like was I had a sinking feeling for Ferrier and his daughter. I knew something bad was going to happen, if two murders were the result years later, how could it end happily? Yet I found myself rooting for Lucy (the daughter) and Jefferson to somehow end up together. My silly romantic side once again giving me false hope for a happy ending. When a person achieving his revenge is the happy ending you know you’re not reading a comedy. However a great beginning to the legend that is Holmes and Watson.
I enjoyed how he somewhat ended it with Watson telling Holmes that he would write Holmes’ story down so that everyone would know that it was he, not Lestrade and Gregson, who was the brilliant one. Holmes’ doesn’t seem to care though, he doesn’t want the publicity, even if he does comment that the others steal the limelight all the time. I guess part of him wants recognition, but not necessarily form the public though. I think he just wants the detectives themselves to not falsly take his credit.
Anyway the story ends with a Latin (or Roman) phrase: “Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar in arca.” When I googled it I discovered it was from Horace, Book 1, Satire 1 and translated to “The public hisses at me, but I applaud myself in my own house, and simultaneously contemplate the money in my chest.”
I take that to mean it doesn’t matter what the public thinks, for I will be proud of my own accomplishments and think about the things I have done within myself. A nice sentiment. So overall, a good story, and I’ll be working my way through Doyle’s other works too, I’m sure.
Anyway, until next time~Q