Series: #1 in the traditional canon of Sherlock Holmes
Publisher: The Floating Press
Publication Date: 1887 (this edition 2009)
Source: Library ebook
The Short Version:
It’s the story of how Dr. Watson first meets Sherlock Holmes and his first experience observing Holmes take on a murder case.
Why I Read It:
Although I’m a long time mystery fan I’ve never read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories or books. I decided that it was time to remedy that and to start at the beginning.
After returning from military service in Afghanistan, Dr. Watson finds himself seeking affordable lodgings in London. A friend suggests Sherlock Holmes as a potential roommate. When they first meet Watson is surprised at Holmes knowing he’d been in Afghanistan before being told. This is just the first of many observations and deductions that fascinate and intrigue Watson.
They agree to share a flat and before long Watson is going along for the ride when Holmes is called in by detectives to consult on the case of a body found in an abandoned house. Much of the first part of this short book is taken up with introducing Holmes’ methods and interactions as observed by Watson.
There is a sudden shift of time and place at the halfway point in the book that seems at first to be a totally separate story set in the American West 30 some years earlier. Eventually everything connects and the scene shifts back to London and the conclusion of the mystery.
This was a very enjoyable short quick read. I was a bit thrown by the time and place shift in the middle, but once I verified that it wasn’t some weird error in my ebook I went with the flow and continued. The mystery itself was interesting and I enjoyed seeing Holmes work through Dr. Watson’s eyes.
What surprised me a bit was the American side of the story and the introduction of the Mormon emigrants to Utah. I wasn’t expecting that and was certainly not expecting the anti-Mormon sentiment to the story. However, considering that this was written in the 1880’s this may have been based on popular perception.
Either way, the story was fun and interesting to read and I’m so glad I finally ventured into the world of Sherlock Holmes. I’m putting this on The Hubster’s reading list and I’m hoping he’ll continue with the rest of the Holmes stories and books along with me. I enjoyed both the serious side of the mystery and was surprised at the parts that made me laugh. I wasn’t expecting the humor in Watson’s observations.