Sunday, 13 January 2008

A Study in Scarlet

It's so nice to have a free weekend. Old Fogey that I am, I love being at home, especially when the weather's a bit on the wild side as it is in Devon this morning. (That said, it's quite nice to be by the sea in weather like this too: I'm nothing if not contrary.) Today the wind is whistling round the house and Hubby's much prized bamboo at the top of the garden is practically horizontal. 8-S So I plan to light the fire and get stuck into some short stories and possibly try to finish the Daily Mail Super Sudoku which I got into a real mess with last night and ended up rubbing it all out and starting again. My favourites are actually the Telegraph's occasional Killer Sudoku and I'm kind of hoping the intense thinking required will stop my poor brain from getting too addled before I reach sixty. Hubby says that's called 'shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted'...

A book review before I really get into my rambling stride.



Like an idiot I hadn't realised there was a Sherlock Holmes book where the two of them met! I suppose I thought they had known each other since school days or something. Not so. And A Study in Scarlet is the book where it's explained that they took up lodgings together after Watson came home from Afghanistan, and didn't actually know each other previously. It's wonderful how bemused poor Watson is by his unusual house-mate and how he strives to get to the bottom of what it is that Holmes does for a living. When he eventually discovers the answer he then finds himself embroiled in investigating the murder of a man called Drebber from Cleveland, Ohio. Watson is astonished at some of Holmes' methods but, when the case is brought successfully to a conclusion, has to admit that they work. The last third or so of the book deals with the back story of how Drebber came to be murdered and takes place in Utah. It then moves back to London for Holmes to explain how he solved the case.

I don't know why I've never read this before. I wish I had as it explains a lot but it's also a really good read. Not perhaps on a par with The Hound of the Baskervilles but not bad. When the story moved to Utah I thought it might not be as rivetting but in reality it got even better! The tale of skulduggery in the Wild West reminded me a bit of the anthology I've just read by Ambrose Bierce. I wasn't that struck by that so why I liked Conan Doyle's version a lot more I'm not sure. As I said, I'm nothing if not contrary.

15 comments:

Nan - said...

Oh, I love this. I'd really like to read all the Conan Doyle books, and maybe this is where I'll begin. I love books that talk about the first meeting of two characters; for example when Bertie first meets Jeeves. I'm way impressed about the Sudoku. My teenaged first cousin once removed is a whiz at it. I looked at her book, and I swear it was like hieroglyphics to me. :<)

DesLily said...

I know this one is in that HUGE Sherlock Holmes book I got..heh.. haven't had the courage to pick that up yet. (it even LOOKS heavy/ over 1,000 pgs!) But you did get me thinking.. that I can (should) begin it soon. I can always read just one story and then read another book and then back to read a second story etc, rather than trying to read it straight through.. so.. I'm thinkin' lol..

glad you liked this one I think I will enjoy all the Holmes stories once I begin on that book. I loved Hound of the Baskerville's, which is the only one I bought as a separate book.. and of course I LOVE the Mary Russell books! sheesh.. waaaaay too many books Cath! lol lol

Cath said...

Hi Nan! If you do decide to read the Holmes books, this book, where they first meet, would be a good place to start. It explains things which I didn't know about previously. Not that it makes *that* much difference but I wish I'd read this one first all the same.

I read the Jeeves and Wooster books when I was much younger and also loved the Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry adaptations from a few years back. Perhaps it's time for a reread of those sometime too, as I do love them, but don't remember the one where they first met.

Cath said...

Pat: I know how you feel, I want to read The Sign of Four next and there isn't a small one in the library so I shall have to get the huuuuge book off the shelf and read it from that.

I see no reason why you can't treat the Holmes stories as an ongoing, 'all year' read. I'm going to read some volumes of short stories in exactly that way, read one story, read a novel, read a story and so on. I've already started and it's working so far. It's part of my determination that I'm not going to get too stressed out by 'numbers' of books read this year. If I read ten, I read ten; if I read fifty, I read fifty; if I read one hundred... it would be a miracle! LOL!!!

DesLily said...

LOL.. i never stress over the "numbers of books" I read. I only try to enjoy each one.

I know I seem to be reading the Pern books fast but I'm not.. I just can't put them down (as always!) Such good characters and story to it all. I will read a book or two from my tbr pile before I go onto another reread. I am determined to reread my favorites and now I realize how much i missed them. Then maybe I'll do that Holmes book like you suggested lol

Nan - said...

I have an omnibus called The World of Jeeves and the first story is Jeeves Takes Charge. That's the one where they meet. And carrying on the discussion you and Deslily are having about heft - in the introduction Wodehouse says:

"When you buy it, you have got something. The bulk of this volume makes it almost the ideal paper-weight. The number of its pages assures the possessor of plenty of shaving paper on vacation. Placed upon the waistline and jerked up and down each morning, it will reduce embonpoint and strengthen the abdominal muscles."

And he even addresses how to read such a big book.

"The great trouble with a book like this is the purchaser is tempted to read too much of it at one time. He sees this hideous mass confronting him and he wants to get at it and have done with it. This is a mistake. I would not recommend anyone to attempt to finish this volume at a sitting."

He then proceeds to give us a method of how to read it. Pure delight, just like his stories.

Cath said...

Nan, those two Wodehouse quotes are wonderful, especially that first one. I love it when an author doesn't take himself too seriously. I think I'll keep an eye out for a few J & W books.

DesLily said...

LOL.. hmm, as I look at my tbr pile, it would seem I have FIVE PAPER-WEIGHTS awaiting me! hahahaha..

TheElementary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheElementary said...

Hello,
What a super blog this is. I love all sorts of book-talk and I am fond of Sherlock Holmes. One of my favourite books is "Arthur and George," by Julian Barnes. The Arthur of the novel is Conan Doyle and I highly recommend the book for anybody interested in his life, albeit a fictionalised account of an incident he was involved in.
Now, off to explore the rest of the blog!

Cath said...

Pat: I read somewhere that the best way to really get to know books is to reread extensively and I've kind of always known that I don't reread enough. So, 'all power to your elbow' as we say over here. ;-) And yes I have a few 'paperweights' too... not to mention a few stomach reducing slimming aids. LOL!

Cath said...

Hello 'Elementary'. Thank you for dropping in. I've heard of 'Arthur and George' but not read it yet. I'll put it on my 'keep an eye out for' list. Another book I spotted in the bookshop, yesterday, that has Conan Doyle as a character is 'Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders' by Gyles Brandreth. It sounded quite good even though I didn't buy it; I probably will at some stage or check the library to see if they have a copy.

Nan - said...

I just picked up ASiS at the library! Thanks for the recommendation.

We have the Arthur & George book; and also the new Arthur Conan Doyle, a Life in Letters. We have the biog from a few years back, Teller of Tales. Now, ask me if either Tom or I have read any of them? :<)

Margaret at booksplease was recently talking about the OW mystery. I can't wait to read it.

Isn't there an elbow quote that is connected to drinking. :<)

Nan - said...

Cath, I gave it up. I can't count how many times I have tried the Sherlock Holmes books and stories, and this always happens. I was vaguely interested in the first part, but not the second at all. I just didn't care. I guess I must just come to realize that they are not for me. :<(

Cath said...

Hi Nan. I'm sorry you didn't like A Study in Scarlet. It proves that we all have different tastes and that's the way it should be. I'm sure we'll both like Anthony Trollope. :-D