Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banned Books week - Throwback Thursday Edition - A Study in Scarlet

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
First Published in 1887 

In 1887, a young Arthur Conan Doyle published A Study in Scarlet, thus creating an international icon in the quick-witted sleuth Sherlock Holmes. In this, the first Holmes mystery, the detective introduces himself to Dr. John H. Watson with the puzzling line "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive." And so begins Watson's, and the world's, fascination with this enigmatic character." Doyle presents two equally perplexing mysteries for Holmes to solve: one a murder that takes place in the shadowy outskirts of London, in a locked room where the haunting word Rache is written upon the wall, the other a kidnapping set in the American West. Quickly picking up the "scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life," Holmes does not fail at finding the truth - and making literary history.

A Study in Scarlet is the first in the Sherlock Holmes series in which it introduced famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusty companion, Dr. Watson.  It is the longest of the tales and is really two stories in one.   The story starts out with a mysterious murder in London, then moves to Utah and becomes a completely different story about something that happened in the early days of the Mormon settlement in Salt Lake City.  In a round about way, this tale is supposed to give the reader a motive for the murder in London. It then ends up with Holmes giving his method for tracking down the killer. 

Personally, I thought it was a bit dull.  Don't get me wrong, I love Sherlock Holmes, but this first attempt was not Conan Doyle's best  I thought the switch from London to Utah slowed down the pace of the book.  It took way too long to get to the point.  I had never read this first Sherlock Holmes book before, so when I saw an article that the story was pulled from the 6th grade reading list in Virgina School district earlier this summer, I knew I had to read it for Banned Books week.  Apparently, a parent objected to the story because they felt it portrayed the Mormons in derogatory way.  The story had been used to introduce 6th graders to the mystery genre.  Instead, they have suggest Hound of the Baskervilles as a replacement.  Personally, I think it is a better choice because I think the students would be bored to tears with A Study in Scarlet.


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