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A Study in Scarlet (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Arthur Conan Doyle , Iain Sinclair
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 July 2001 Penguin Classics

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet is the literary debut of the world's most famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, introduced by Iain Sinclair with notes by Ed Glinert in Penguin Classics.

Convalescing in London after a disastrous experience of war in Afghanistan, Dr John Watson finds himself sharing rooms with his enigmatic new acquaintance, Sherlock Holmes. But their quiet bachelor life at 221B Baker Street is soon interrupted by the grisly discovery of a dead man in a grimy 'ill-omened' house in south-east London, his face contorted by an expression of horror and hatred such as Watson has never seen before. On the wall, the word rache - German for 'revenge' - is written in blood, yet there are no wounds on the victim or signs of a struggle. Watson's head is in a whirl, but the formidable Holmes relishes this challenge to his deductive powers, and so begins their famous investigative partnership.

In his introduction, Iain Sinclair discusses the links between Sherlock Holmes mysteries and the Jack the Ripper murders, Conan Doyle's narrative style and his depiction of London. This edition also includes further reading, a chronology and notes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was born in Edinburgh where he qualified as a doctor, but it was his writing which brought him fame, with the creation of Sherlock Holmes, the first scientific detective. He was also a social reformer who used his investigative skills to prove the innocence of individuals.

Iain Sinclair is the author of Downriver (winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Encore Award), and his latest book Ghost Milk: Calling Time on the Grand Project is published by Penguin.

Ed Glinert writes a regular column for Time Out magazine, and is the author of The Literary Guide to London. Glinert's latest book, The London Compendium, is published by Penguin.

If you liked A Study in Scarlet you might enjoy The Hound of the Baskervilles, also available in Penguin Classics.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (5 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140439080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140439083
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 1.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 430,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


If Conan Doyle had written only this first novel introducing Holmes to Watson (newly returned from service in Afghanistan), he would have deserved his reputation. The murder of two Americans in London is revealed as revenge for a grievous wrong perpetrated by members of the Mormon community. Superb. --Rachel Redford, The Observer --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was born in Edinburgh where he qualified as a doctor, but it was his writing which brought him fame, with the creation of Sherlock Holmes, the first scientific detective. He was also a convert to spiritualism and a social reformer who used his investigative skills to prove the innocence of individuals.

Iain Sinclair is the author of Crash, Lights Out for the Territory and, with Rachel Lichtenstein, Rodinsky's Room. He is a regular broadcaster and interviewer.

Ed Glinert is the author of A Literary Guide to London.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine' of the University of London,2 and proceeded to Netley3 to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully entertaining 8 Mar 2004
It is 1878 and Doctor John Watson, his health damaged by his experiences with the British Army in Afghanistan during the Second Anglo-Afghan War, is looking for lodgings in the great city of London. It seems fortuitous, when a mutual friend introduces him to another who needs someone to share costs on a suite on Baker Street, but this other man is quite an eccentric. Sherlock Holmes has bent his life and education towards turning himself into the premier detective.
Watson can hardly credit Holmes's claims of what a first-class detective can do. But, when a note arrives from a Scotland Yard detective, inviting Holmes to consult on a particularly mysterious murder, Watson soon finds himself carried along by Holmes, watching his new friend's powers unravel a seemingly inscrutable knot. The game is afoot, and Holmes needs to solve a murder, and bring a murderer to justice.
This fascinating book was first published in 1887, and was the very first Sherlock Holmes story. In it we get to see the first meeting of Holmes and Watson, and hear Holmes explain his methods in detail. If you are a fan of murder mysteries, then this is definitely a book that you should not miss.
The center part of this story revolves around the actions of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. Author Arthur Conan Doyle had a tendency to "wing" the details of his story, and his treatment of the Mormons shows a certain carelessness in how he presented them. Therefore, if you are a Mormon, you will most likely find this book offensive.
But, that said, this is a wonderfully entertaining story that is sure to please most every mystery fan. And, if you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then you must read this book! It's great.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The First Sherlock Holmes Story 15 July 2002
By A Customer
Although it's not the best written of the Holmes stories, "A Study in Scarlet" is most definitely my favorite. I love the description of Holmes' character in this book and the way Arthur Conan Doyle begins the relationship between Holmes and Watson is beyond brilliant. It's positively indescribable. The only thing I don't like about this book is the way in which it is written. The book is divided into two parts. In the first half, Holmes and Watson meet and then investigate a crime. The second half tells the history of the people involved in the crime. Part II is good although Holmes and Watson are not in it, but the format is somewhat confusing on the first read because it appears that Doyle is beginning an entirely new story without finishing the first one. But overall this book is a fine addition to the Sherlock Holmes canon and I would highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An underrated classic 20 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is the first in the Sherlock Holmes series and you can understand, after reading this, why Conan Doyle's character became such a archetype for future detectives and why he has become such a well known figure in crime fiction.

He is a mysterious, quirky and very eccentric individual who has very human flaws that make him an engaging protagonist. The workings of his mind are so lateral and even now his deductions are astoundingly clever. It is easy to see why he has spanned the centuries and is still so popular today - I can imagine that he was as refreshingly different then as he is now.

Discovering how Watson and Holmes come to know each other is an interesting element to "A Study in Scarlet" as most people know of the duo but few are aware of how they come together. And Watson plays his role perfectly alongside the reader who marvels at Holmes' detective prowess.

The plot itself is split into two sections, the first dealing with the murders and the second concentrates on the motive beyond the gruesome killings. Both parts are equally engaging but completely different, in tone and focus. It shows the power and eloquence of Conan Doyle's writing that he manages to switch effortlessly between the different settings of both sections along with the type of prose required for each.

"A Study in Scarlet" still stands out as an excellent piece of crime fiction and I am sure it will continue to do so for many years to come. Along with other writers such as Agatha Christie, perhaps the Conan Doyle of her generation in her creation of an enduring detective in Poirot and Marple, it is so interesting to read the popular fiction of that era and it's links to similar literature today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, undeservedly overlooked 10 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This, the very first Sherlock Holmes story, is a re-read, I have read the whole canon several times before. It is particularly striking as being a story of two halves. After the initial meeting between Holmes and Watson - surely one of the most significant and memorable literary acquaintanceships - the story of murder unfolds against the London backdrop that is considered so typically Sherlockian. The mystery is solved half way through. The second half is then a sympathetic backstory of why the murderer committed his crimes, which takes us to Utah and the Mormons (whose cultish nature depicted here is the source of the evil). This is very atypical Conan Doyle material, but brilliantly and dramatically described, his evocation of the bleak and barren landscape every bit as convincing as that of the more familiar foggy London streets. No doubt this contrastingly wide spaced environment is part of the reason why this story has been much less adapted for the screen than Hound of the Baskervilles (Dartmoor is more accessible and realisable than the Utah desert!) or The Sign of Four (set in London). But this is a real classic that deserves to be better known as the beginning of a literary legend. 5/5
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Start of the Superb Saga
What a start this was to Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series. It introduces us to Holmes and Dr John Watson who narrates a very unusual case. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. Peter Steward
5.0 out of 5 stars Really nice book
Lightweight and shows great tribute to Conan Doyle. Just got interested in BBC's Sherlock and it really is a fab read
Published 2 months ago by Dani Moulden
5.0 out of 5 stars Transatlantic Skulduggery!
A fascinating story of revenge that starts with the discovery of a body. A very good story that captures the imagination.
Published 3 months ago by JM Philbin
3.0 out of 5 stars The first...
...Sherlock Holmes book and after watching the TV series I thought I would give the books a go. I enjoyed the book until Part 2 where just at the point of climax it massively... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ms J
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good digital version
This kindle version appears to have been translated to digital very well.

It synced to my kindle perfectly.

The price was very good at 0.49.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Decided to read this book after watching BBC series as I was curious as to how much the TV series differed from the books. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Anne Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars A great opening in the series!
Couldn't put it down, and enjoyed how it was divided into 2 sections. if anything I found part 2 to be more entertaining than part 1. Read more
Published 5 months ago by checkers340
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Story
Arrived very promptly , my son is reading this for English and a great Sherlock fan. nice to be able to read the indiviualt story as usually you need to by the complete... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Cherie
5.0 out of 5 stars A Study In Scarlet
Absolutely brilliantly told as ever. There are two stories here,one interwoven with the other. When I first started reading the Jefferson Hope narrative I had not realised it was... Read more
Published 6 months ago by R. Burnett
5.0 out of 5 stars Good edition of first Sherlock Holmes story
A Study in Scarlet was Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes adventure. He shows his versatility with a lengthy (and rather prejudicial! Read more
Published 6 months ago by Alex Day
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