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Sunday, 26 August 2012

Books: A Study in Scarlet

So, I am a huge fan of House (which was based on Sherlock Holmes) and am devastated that it has finished.  I have also recently watched the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock and the modern BBC adaptation, all of which I found to be very entertaining but very post-modern and skewed towards a particular fashion in their creation.

So, my expectation was when I read a study in Scarlet that Holmes would be very little like the sarcastic, short, brilliant and frankly very Aspie character that he is depicted as on screen, and would likely be much more like the be-deerstalkered aristocratic sleuth of the films of the 1950's.

And I was wrong.

 Holmes is all of that and more. He is very judgemental, quick-witted and scathingly condescending to John Watson, (whom he had not met at the start of this book) focused to the point of obsessive on what he deems to be important, and utterly ignorant of anything he deems irrelevant.

A Study in Scarlet is the first of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and jumps midway through from a case in the heart of London involving the deaths of two gentlemen with a note left in blood in German to the American Wild West where a band of pioneers are at death's door until they are saved by a group of spiritual pioneers.  Tying these two disparate stories together is the heart of this tale, and it was as unexpected as it was well-written.

For me as a new Aspie, Holmes is someone I find both completely alien and yet utterly relate-able.  His obsessions with what he feels is worthwhile and his rejection of the expectations of others (such as Watson's astonished insistence that Holmes must learn of the make-up of the cosmos, while Holmes argues he would happily forget the names of all the planets if it gave him extra space for relevant details) reminds me very much of my view of the world: what i think is important matters. Everything else is someone else's issue to deal with.

I have now started on the Hound of the Baskervilles, mainly due to it being the only other Holmes I have available, but A Study in Scarlet is certainly an entertaining and worthwhile read for anyone new to Holmes or wishing to brush up on references from its current incarnations, and it will certainly encourage me to read more Conan-Doyle

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