|Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes|
A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes, #1)
For those who don't already know it, it's the first Sherlock Holmes novel, where the reader actually meets both him and doctor Watson. I definitely haven't read it in English, and it's a long time since I read it in translation. So I was really surprised at how small is the part of the novel which describes the actual investigation of the familiar case. The novel seems to be focused on the character of Holmes himself more than on the details of the murder. I was also surprised, that nearly one half of the novel was dedicated to somewhat poetical description of the murderer's story. I really enjoyed the passages about Mormon caravan moving to Utah, about their life there and about the forbidden and tragic love which led to the murder itself. It's no mystery why this novel was and still is so popular: it mixes crime investigation with psychological one, and also adds an adventure and a love story in some exotic (for a Londoner, at least) setting. I rather liked the language too, it's not primitive as some authors of serial detectives adopt, and really beautiful.
The second novel is still more extravagant and plays with the love of treasure hunting which everyone with some imagination tend to love. It starts a year or so later after the first case, during which time Watson was methodically writing down his observations about Holmes, but never participated in any investigations himself. Nor there seemed to be any, as Holmes is taking cocaine on regular basis now as means of escaping the dullness of the world. With such a lot of cocaine which is only slightly frowned upon, I'm surprised they haven't forbidden or rewritten the book! I'm happy they didn't. Along with many mysterious deaths, escaped convicts, revolts in colonial India and a very dynamic boat pursuit, the novel also has a love story, and with no other than Watson himself! I remember him getting married and moving out from Baker street, but in the second novel? Conan Doyle is certainly not afraid of moving on with things in his novels!
After these two novels there is a short story collection called "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" in my book, beginning with A Scandal in Bohemia, so I'm up to some intrigue next time I decide I need something really nice and distracting!