If you are like me and like to read a series from the start then with Sherlock Holmes you have to start with `A Study in Scarlet'. It is actually the book in which Dr Watson, just back from the army after being injured, becomes introduced to the mysterious and slightly odd Sherlock Holmes via a mutual acquaintance as they are both looking for shared digs. You guessed it; this is of course the now infamous address 221B Baker Street.
As the two slowly get to learn more about each others habits Dr Watson soon discovers that Sherlock Holmes is indeed an amateur detective, though only in terms that it is not under an official capacity as the police come to him for help. It is then little time before Watson ends up on the trail with Sherlock for a murderer in on of the most baffling mysteries London has seen in some time. That of the unscathed dead man, found in a derelict house in Brixton, who is surrounded by blood that is not his own and the word `Rache' written in blood on the wall!
Naturally being a Sherlock Holmes mystery you can expect the unexpected and an impossible sounding case that by the end Sherlock Holmes will have made seem easier than playing chess against a five year old. You can also expect horse cab chases, a sight into the Victorian underbelly, dead ends and twists through the London streets. If you love a good mystery or a great Victorian book then this is definitely for you. I still think there is yet to be a detective or a series that betters Sherlock Holmes.
The one thing I had forgotten about `A Study in Scarlet' since reading it many, many moons ago was that it's a book of two halves. The first is working out who the murderer is, the second takes us to foreign shores and looks at how the case ended up where it did and the aftermath. This half has a very different tone, the first being told by Watson and has the gloom of London, the second being set in sunnier climates told like an adventure story (which Conan Doyle was also very famous for) involving love that cannot be and the Latter Day Saints. (That is all I will say on the plot.) Initially I was a little cross as I wanted more Holmes and he features little in the second half, but then as a whole book it has more impact, you only realise just how much cleverer Sherlock is than you could even think. I thoroughly enjoyed this and read it in two sittings.