A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet

by Arthur Conan Doyle

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Overview

All Holmes stories are important to the Baker Street Irregulars, but this one ranks particularly high in their hagiography. Reason: Dr. Watson is introduced, and with this perfect foil to Holmes's gigantic abilities, the author and his characters attain a more relaxed relationship.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781420925531
Publisher: Neeland Media
Publication date: 08/04/2005
Series: Sherlock Holmes Mystery Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 108
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.26(d)

About the Author

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

Date of Birth:

May 22, 1859

Date of Death:

July 7, 1930

Place of Birth:

Edinburgh, Scotland

Place of Death:

Crowborough, Sussex, England

Education:

Edinburgh University, B.M., 1881; M.D., 1885

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER I
Mr. Sherlock Holmes

In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as Assistant Surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in the enemy’s country. I followed, however, with many other officers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment, and at once entered upon my new duties.
The campaign brought honours and promotion to many, but for me it had nothing but misfortune and disaster. I was removed from my brigade and attached to the Berkshires,with whom I served at the fatal battle of Maiwand. There I was struck on the shoulder by a Jezail bullet, which shattered the bone and grazed the subclavian artery. I should have fallen into the hands of the murderous Ghazis had it not been for the devotion and courage shown by Murray, my orderly, who threw me across a pack-horse, and succeeded in bringing me safely to the British lines.
Worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged hardships which I had undergone, I was removed, with a great train of wounded sufferers, to the base hospital at Peshawur. Here I rallied, and had already improved so far as to be able to walk about the wards, and even to bask a little upon the verandah, when I was struck down by enteric fever, that curse of our Indianpossessions. For months my life was despaired of, and when at last I came to myself and became convalescent, I was so weak and emaciated that a medical board determined that not a day should be lost in sending me back to England. I was despatched, accordingly, in the troopship Orontes, and landed a month later on Portsmouth jetty, with my health irretrievably ruined, but with permission from a paternal government to spend the next nine months in attempting to improve it.
I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air—or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained. There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had, considerably more freely than I ought. So alarming did the state of my finances become, that I soon realized that I must either leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in the country, or that I must make a complete alteration in my style of living. Choosing the latter alternative, I began by making up my mind to leave the hotel, and to take up my quarters in some less pretentious and less expensive domicile.
On the very day that I had come to this conclusion, I was standing at the Criterion Bar, when some one tapped me on the shoulder, and turning round I recognized young Stamford, who had been a dresser under me at Barts. The sight of a friendly face in the great wilderness of London is a pleasant thing indeed to a lonely man. In old days Stamford had never been a particular crony of mine, but now I hailed him with enthusiasm, and he, in his turn, appeared to be delighted to see me. In the exuberance of my joy, I asked him to lunch with me at the Holborn, and we started off together in a hansom.
“Whatever have you been doing with yourself, Watson?” he asked in undisguised wonder, as we rattled through the crowded London streets. “You are as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut.”
I gave him a short sketch of my adventures, and had hardly concluded it by the time that we reached our destination.
“Poor devil!” he said, commiseratingly, after he had listened to my misfortunes. “What are you up to now?”
“Looking for lodgings,” I answered. “Trying to solve the problem as to whether it is possible to get comfortable rooms at a reasonable price.”
“That’s a strange thing,” remarked my companion, “you are the second man to-day that has used that expression to me.”
“And who was the first?” I asked.
“A fellow who is working at the chemical laboratory up at the hospital. He was bemoaning himself this morning because he could not get some one to go halves with him in some nice rooms which he had found, and which were too much for his purse.”
“By Jove!” I cried; “if he really wants some one to share the rooms and the expense, I am the very man for him. I should prefer having a partner to being alone.”
Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me over his wine glass. “You don’t know Sherlock Holmes yet,” he said; “perhaps you would not care for him as a constant companion.”
“Why, what is there against him?”
“Oh, I didn’t say there was anything against him. He is a little queer in his ideas—an enthusiast in some branches of science. As far as I know he is a decent fellow enough.”
“A medical student, I suppose?” said I.
“No—I have no idea what he intends to go in for. I believe he is well up in anatomy, and he is a first-class chemist; but, as far as I know, he has never taken out any systematic medical classes. His studies are very desultory and eccentric, but he has amassed a lot of out-of-the-way knowledge which would astonish his professors.”
“Did you never ask him what he was going in for?” I asked.
“No; he is not a man that it is easy to draw out, though he can be communicative enough when the fancy seizes him.”
“I should like to meet him,” I said. “If I am to lodge with any one, I should prefer a man of studious and quiet habits. I am not strong enough yet to stand much noise or excitement. I had enough of both in Afghanistan to last me for the remainder of my natural existence. How could I meet this friend of yours?”
“He is sure to be at the laboratory,” returned my companion. “He either avoids the place for weeks, or else he works there from morning till night. If you like, we will drive round together after luncheon.”
“Certainly,” I answered, and the conversation drifted away into other channels.
As we made our way to the hospital after leaving the Holborn, Stamford gave me a few more particulars about the gentleman whom I proposed to take as a fellow-lodger.
“You mustn’t blame me if you don’t get on with him,” he said; “I know nothing more of him than I have learned from meeting him occasionally in the laboratory. You proposed this arrangement, so you must not hold me responsible.”
“If we don’t get on it will be easy to part company,” I answered. “It seems to me, Stamford,” I added, looking hard at my companion, “that you have some reason for washing your hands of the matter. Is this fellow’s temper so formidable, or what is it? Don’t be mealy-mouthed about it.”
“It is not easy to express the inexpressible,” he answered with a laugh. “Holmes is a little too scientific for my tastes—it approaches to cold-bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid,15 not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects. To do him justice, I think that he would take it himself with the same readiness. He appears to have a passion for definite and exact knowledge.”
“Very right too.”
“Yes, but it may be pushed to excess. When it comes to beating the subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick, it is certainly taking rather a bizarre shape.”
“Beating the subjects!”
“Yes, to verify how far bruises may be produced after death. I saw him at it with my own eyes.”
“And yet you say he is not a medical student?”
“No. Heaven knows what the objects of his studies are. But here we are, and you must form your own impressions about him.” As he spoke, we turned down a narrow lane and passed through a small side-door, which opened into a wing of the great hospital. It was familiar ground to me, and I needed no guiding as we ascended the bleak stone staircase and made our way down the long corridor with its vista of whitewashed wall and dun-coloured doors. Near the farther end a low arched passage branched away from it and led to the chemical laboratory.
This was a lofty chamber, lined and littered with countless bottles. Broad, low tables were scattered about, which bristled with retorts, test-tubes, and little Bunsen lamps, with their blue flickering flames. There was only one student in the room, who was bending over a distant table absorbed in his work. At the sound of our steps he glanced round and sprang to his feet with a cry of pleasure. “I’ve found it! I’ve found it,” he shouted to my companion, running towards us with a test-tube in his hand. “I have found a re-agent which is precipitated by hœmoglobin, and by nothing else.” Had he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could not have shone upon his features.
“Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said Stamford, introducing us.
“How are you?” he said cordially, gripping my hand with a strength for which I should hardly have given him credit. “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.”
“How on earth did you know that?” I asked in astonishment.
“Never mind,” said he, chuckling to himself. “The question now is about hœmoglobin. No doubt you see the significance of this discovery of mine?”
“It is interesting, chemically, no doubt,” I answered, “but practically——”
“Why, man, it is the most practical medico-legal discovery for years. Don’t you see that it gives us an infallible test for blood stains. Come over here now!” He seized me by the coat-sleeve in his eagerness, and drew me over to the table at which he had been working. “Let us have some fresh blood,” he said, digging a long bodkin into his finger, and drawing off the resulting drop of blood in a chemical pipette. “Now, I add this small quantity of blood to a litre of water. You perceive that the resulting mixture has the appearance of pure water. The proportion of blood cannot be more than one in a million. I have no doubt, however, that we shall be able to obtain the characteristic reaction.” As he spoke, he threw into the vessel a few white crystals, and then added some drops of a transparent fluid. In an instant the contents assumed a dull mahogany colour, and a brownish dust was precipitated to the bottom of the glass jar.
“Ha! ha!” he cried, clapping his hands, and looking as delighted as a child with a new toy. “What do you think of that?”
“It seems to be a very delicate test,” I remarked.
“Beautiful! beautiful! The old guaiacum test was very clumsy and uncertain. So is the microscopic examination for blood corpuscles. The latter is valueless if the stains are a few hours old. Now, this appears to act as well whether the blood is old or new. Had this test been invented, there are hundreds of men now walking the earth who would long ago have paid the penalty of their crimes.”
“Indeed!” I murmured.
“Criminal cases are continually hinging upon that one point. A man is suspected of a crime months perhaps after it has been committed. His linen or clothes are examined and brownish stains discovered upon them. Are they blood stains, or mud stains, or rust stains, or fruit stains, or what are they? That is a question which has puzzled many an expert, and why? Because there was no reliable test. Now we have the Sherlock Holmes test, and there will no longer be any difficulty.”
His eyes fairly glittered as he spoke, and he put his hand over his heart and bowed as if to some applauding crowd conjured up by his imagination.
“You are to be congratulated,” I remarked, considerably surprised at his enthusiasm.
“There was the case of Von Bischoff at Frankfort last year. He would certainly have been hung had this test been in existence. Then there was Mason of Bradford, and the notorious Muller, and Lefevre of Montpellier, and Samson of New Orleans. I could name a score of cases in which it would have been decisive.”
“You seem to be a walking calendar of crime,” said Stamford with a laugh. “You might start a paper on those lines. Call it the ‘Police News of the Past.’ ”
“Very interesting reading it might be made, too,” remarked Sherlock Holmes, sticking a small piece of plaster over the prick on his finger. “I have to be careful,” he continued, turning to me with a smile, “for I dabble with poisons a good deal.” He held out his hand as he spoke, and I noticed that it was all mottled over with similar pieces of plaster, and discoloured with strong acids.
“We came here on business,” said Stamford, sitting down on a high three-legged stool, and pushing another one in my direction with his foot. “My friend here wants to take diggings; and as you were complaining that you could get no one to go halves with you, I thought that I had better bring you together.”
Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea of sharing his rooms with me. “I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street,” he said, “which would suit us down to the ground. You don’t mind the smell of strong tobacco, I hope?”
“I always smoke ‘ship’s’ myself,” I answered.
“That’s good enough. I generally have chemicals about, and occasionally do experiments. Would that annoy you?”
“By no means.”
“Let me see—what are my other shortcomings. I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my mouth for days on end. You must not think I am sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and I’ll soon be right. What have you to confess now? It’s just as well for two fellows to know the worst of one another before they begin to live together.”
I laughed at this cross-examination. “I keep a bull pup,” I said, “and I object to row because my nerves are shaken, and I get up at all sorts of ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy. I have another set of vices when I’m well, but those are the principal ones at present.”
“Do you include violin playing in your category of rows?” he asked, anxiously.
“It depends on the player,” I answered. “A well-played violin is a treat for the gods—a badly-played one——”
“Oh, that’s all right,” he cried, with a merry laugh. “I think we may consider the thing as settled—that is, if the rooms are agreeable to you.”
“When shall we see them?”
“Call for me here at noon to-morrow, and we’ll go together and settle everything,” he answered.
“All right—noon exactly,” said I, shaking his hand.
We left him working among his chemicals, and we walked together towards my hotel.
“By the way,” I asked suddenly, stopping and turning upon Stamford, “how the deuce did he know that I had come from Afghanistan?”
My companion smiled an enigmatical smile. “That’s just his little peculiarity,” he said. “A good many people have wanted to know how he finds things out.”
“Oh! a mystery is it?” I cried, rubbing my hands. “This is very piquant. I am much obliged to you for bringing us together. ‘The proper study of mankind is man,’ you know.”
“You must study him, then,” Stamford said, as he bade me good-bye. “You’ll find him a knotty problem, though. I’ll wager he learns more about you than you about him. Good-bye.”
“Good-bye,” I answered, and strolled on to my hotel, considerably interested in my new acquaintance.

Copyright© 2003 by Arthur Conan Doyle

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Can any narrator go wrong with a mystery featuring the shrewd Sherlock Holmes? Simon Prebble certainly doesn't.... This is a solid performance." —-AudioFile

Reading Group Guide

In 1887, a young Arthur Conan Doyle published A Study in Scarlet, thus creating an international icon in the quick-witted sleuth Sherlock Holmes. In this, the first Holmes mystery, the detective introduces himself to Dr. John H. Watson with the puzzling line “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.” And so begins Watson's, and the world's, fascination with this enigmatic character.

Doyle presents two equally perplexing mysteries for Holmes to solve: one a murder that takes place in the shadowy outskirts of London, in a locked room where the haunting word Rache is written upon the wall, the other a kidnapping set in the American West. Quickly picking up the “scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life,” Holmes does not fail at finding the truth—and making literary history.

1. Before Arthur Conan Doyle created Holmes, there were few detective stories for Conan Doyle to use as a sort of template. Do you believe Conan Doyle was basing Holmes on a doctor or medical student instead? Why does Conan Doyle intentionally mention Poe and Gaboriau's detectives? Is he poking fun at himself or setting himself apart from his competition?

2. Upon meeting Watson, Holmes immediately says “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.” Yet, Holmes does not indulge Watson with an explanation of his deduction until later. Why did Conan Doyle wait to insert the explanation until later in the book? Does it help or hurt the book?

3. What does Part II, “The Country of the Saints,” tell us about Conan Doyle's view of religion? Do you believe Conan Doyle believed in the occult or spiritualism? If so, then how do you reconcile the fact he created a character who's sole motivation is reason and science?

4. Do you like the American flashback? Why do you think Conan Doyle used this scene in the book knowing so little about the Mormon religion and the general geography of the American mid-West?

5. London had recently survived the Jack the Ripper attacks when Conan Doyle wrote this story. Do you think the Holmes stories became so popular as a direct result of the chilling crimes?

6. Traditional detective stories present the “facts” to the reader and let he or she work out the crime. Why do you think Conan Doyle rejected this formula? Why is Conan Doyle's Holmes stories so popular if they are a direct contradiction of the traditional detective genre?

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A Study In Scarlet (Ad Classic) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 97 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vey good! Funny to read after watching BBC's show Sherlock, episode one based off this story.
Thorne2112 More than 1 year ago
A fast-paced mystery thriller that represents the origin story of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.
Luvsoc85 More than 1 year ago
The first of the four Sherlock Holmes novel the character development is wonderful. You really capture the essence of Watson and Holmes. The story starts off very intriguing with a mysterious murder and the chase of the killer. However, there is a LONG intermission during the chase to give the back story of the killer and victims. The back story proves useful once the case is resolved but I found it a little too long and wanted to get back to Baker Street. As one of the classics it is a must read and a good start to the rest of the novels.
MysteryChristieluv More than 1 year ago
Very classy. Better than the tv progs
NinaJon More than 1 year ago
Elementary, Dear Watson If someone could only to read one novel in their lives – this is the novel I would recommend. It introduces Sherlock Holmes (and Watson) to the world and it introduces them very well. There’s lashings of elementary deduction and a surprising amount of poignancy and Providence. (Although I do agree with one reviewer on Goodreads that half way through it becomes something else, before getting back to being a Sherlock Holmes again) If you watched the excellent BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch and haven't yet read A Study in Scarlet – please do so, you’ll see the first ever episode in a new light. Nina Jon is the author of the Jane Hetherington’s Adventures in Detection crime and mystery series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is great to read after watching BBC Sherlock! The book is great and written great! The bbc show is also great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: duh. Gender:girl. Father is: trident. God of the sea. Description: she has blue eyes that reflect the sea. She has red orange hiar. She is skinny and very very pale.
amin119 More than 1 year ago
Great Book !!!!
manurcu36 More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
oma-opa More than 1 year ago
I read this book at the suggestion of my son and grandson - both fans of Sherlock Holmes. Now I'm hooked too and plan to read more of Doyle's suspenseful tales of the great detective.
Jenette More than 1 year ago
An interesting book that essentially describes how forensic science got started. Arthur Conan Doyle influenced Victorian England's procedures for examining a crime scene. There is a PBS special about Sherlock Holmes and his forensic techniques that are taken from this book. And, it's all true.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really love how Sherlock Holmes uses the famous art of deduction. This is the first book of all the others that I have read, and I am definitely going to read all the rest!!!!!!!!!!!! The only reason why I gave the novel a rate of four stars is because the second part was too long and it tired you after some time with the same over and over again!!!!!!! If you did not read the book yet, I recommend you to do it when you have time. Try it and rate it so I know your opinion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Girl_Detective on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Study in Scarlet & The Sign of the Four, two short novels, are the beginning of the Holmes canon. They are racist, sexist, anti-Mormon, and inconsistent, yet enduringly funny, engaging, and entertaining.
michaeldwebb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's barely worth reviewing classics like this, so I'll just say that Sherlock Holmes could have been written yesterday - it still fresh, engaging and genuinely fun to read.
ToxicMasquerade on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I first got this book, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it or not. But, I was pleasantly surprised as I was reading it. I was actually laughing at some of the things Sherlock said. It was entertaining. I would recommend it to anyone who really likes detective stories.
onlyhope1912 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As an avid Sherlock Holmes fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. How Watson met Holmes, and the intriguing case make this a great read for anyone who likes mysteries or English lit.
Socially_Awkward on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read this a few months ago and just can't believe I never read any of them before. It was a great fannish read! And I can only imagine the crazy fanfiction.
FolkeB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The quirky character of famous detective Sherlock Holmes is introduced with rapid language and ensuing hilarity in A Study in Scarlet, the first of the Holmes novels. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle engages readers in a story filled with twists, turns, and trails with dead ends. Told initially from the reminiscences of Doctor Watson, A Study in Scarlet follows the team through their first case together, a seemingly unsolvable murder. The oblivious Scotland Yard cannot find a single clue as to a potential suspect or the method of murder when Sherlock Holmes is called to assist. Witty banter allows readers to become acquainted with Holmes, and nonstop action (he seems incapable of sitting still or even sleeping) keeps the plot flowing with ease. Readers remain hooked as Conan Doyle presents new characters with perplexing additions to the case, another murder and a disguise that deceives even Holmes. Natural dialogue and picturesque descriptions bring the reader right to the streets of London, always one erratic step behind Sherlock.After Holmes abruptly and unexpectedly apprehends a suspect in the murders of Americans E.J. Drebber and Joseph Stangerson, readers are taken back many years before the crimes were ever committed and given a look into their past. Conan Doyle¿s narrative here is slow and struggles without the character of Holmes to push the story along, but readers will press forward, searching for answers that seem nonexistent in this baffling mystery. Bookworms will be left searching for the next Holmes novel, eager for more stories of the witty and relentless detective.Paige
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been a Sherlock Holmes fan--of the actual fiction by Conan Doyle--ever since the short story "The Speckled Band" was assigned to me in high school. I own an edition of the complete tales and novels. A Study in Scarlet is the first work with Holmes and tells when Watson, his roommate, companion in adventure and our chronicler, first met him. No other fictional character--not Nero Wolfe nor Hercule Poirot better embodies the "Great Detective" and watching Holmes, his deductions and their reasons is like watching a virtuoso on their chosen instrument. Mind you, Holmes--and Doyle--are very much of their time and place--Victorian England. Think Kipling. Jingoistic and definitely not politically correct--so be prepared to make allowances. In this particular novel, Doyle is not kind to Mormons (LDS)--they were a controversial group in their time and very much the villains in this story. I have to admit in a way I found that amusing, because by the time I first read this, my view of Mormons was formed by Donny Osmond and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, so having them as villains was surprising and piquant. This is a short novel, so all in all I think a solid introduction to the most famous of fictional detectives.
SMGS-VZhang on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sherlock Holmes is an iconic character, and his first book is (I think) his best. A Study in Scarlet introduces Mr Holmes and showcases his analytical genius as he navigates through the first of many cases the detective solves. A classic.
riestmc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read most of the Sherlock Holmes canon but this one most recently. I enjoyed reading about how Holmes and Watson meet.This story has a similar structure to 'The Valley of Fear' in that a large portion deals with the history leading up to the crime. I did not enjoyed this part of the book as much though. Doyle's deductive strains are the most interesting aspects of his writing, so the parts that do not include Homes seem bland in comparison.stillI really enjoyed this one. It is the first of the series and yet Doyle already masters the Sherlock Holmes character.
snat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Simply okay. I really enjoyed the first part in which Holmes solves the murder, but had to literally drag myself through the second part which goes all the way back to America and the Mormons to explain the murderer's motive. And that second part? Yeah, it takes forrrr-ehhhh-ver. Parts of it read like a textbook analysis of the Mormon faith. You can tell Doyle did his homework (and I kinda wish he hadn't done so quite so thoroughly--there's even a freaking footnote). The second half felt disjointed from the first half. I still enjoy the fact that Holmes is such an arrogant and pompous jerk, but if he serves as the basis for television's House (which I read somewhere was true), then I must say that Gregory House does it better. It was tolerable; don't regret reading it, but won't be reading it again.
booksandwine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
audio-ed; skipped mormon part... full review after work