Welcome back to The Classic of the Month! Today, we’re looking at a classic of the mystery genre, a title famous for introducing the world to the greatest detective of all time: Sherlock Holmes. This fascinating novel is a quick read, suspenseful, plot-driven, and deeply compelling. I’m speaking, of course, of A Study in Scarlet.

Book of the Month

A Study in Scarlet (1887) by Arthur Conan Doyle

Opening Words

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.

A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle

What’s it all About?

John Watson, a retired army doctor has just returned from his tour of duty after being injured in Afghanistan. In his search for lodgings and for a good, reliable roommate, he makes the acquaintance of Sherlock Holmes, a brilliant, but highly eccentric man who claims to be the world’s first consulting detective. Despite some initial tension, the two find that they are perfectly matched for each other, and a beautiful friendship blossoms. During this first adventure, Holmes invites Watson to join him while he investigates a murder on behalf of Scotland Yard. The victim is found dead in an empty room in an abandoned house, and the only clue is the word “rache” written in blood high up on the wall.

Read this if you enjoy…

  • Mysteries
  • Action and adventure
  • Stories set in Victorian England
  • Anything Sherlock Holmes

Final Thoughts

I’ve read all the Sherlock Holmes stories at least once, and they’re all amazing. Honestly, it was hard to choose one that feature for the Classic of the Month, but since this was the first of the series, it felt like the most logical starting point. A Study in Scarlet is a classic mystery story with high drama and lots of excitement. If you enjoyed it, I highly recommend checking out the rest of the stories. While I feel that most of the series can be read in any order, I suggest picking up The Sign of Four next, as the events of that adventure are referenced in the later short stories and books.

If you’re looking for more Sherlock Holmes content, I have a couple other blog posts you might want to check out!

Erin

I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.