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Old 04-20-2013, 08:36 AM   #1
WT Sharpe
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April 2013 Discussion: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (spoilers)

The time has come to discuss the fascinating April 2013 MobileRead Book Club selection, A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. What did you think?
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Old 04-20-2013, 09:38 AM   #2
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I got to what I thought was the end and wondered what all the fuss was about - then realised and carried on!
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:16 AM   #3
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It has been disliked by some over the years, in part due to the portrait of the Mormon's that it paints. What I've never been able to understand is why Watson misses the clues relating to Jefferson Hope's health. He is a Dr. after all and should have caught on I would think. Of course there is the mystery of the bull pup as well. Some say it's a gun and some that it's a reference to Watson being short tempered at the present. I think it's the latter myself. First he's shot at from ambush in the war and narrowly misses death. Then he contracts typhoid (the fever mentioned) then has the long land & sea voyage back to England. Between having PTSD and his health problems I don't wonder that Watson's nerves were a bit high strung at the time.
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:54 AM   #4
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You can find it online with illustrations at:
A study in Scarlet
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Old 04-20-2013, 11:16 AM   #5
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This was the first time I'd read a Sherlock Holmes story and I did enjoy it. I couldn't help focussing on the advances that have been made in forensic science since Conan Doyle's time. I enjoyed the author's style and may well read more of the series.
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Old 04-20-2013, 07:35 PM   #6
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It's so long since I read it that I had completely forgotten the plot, which was good. I found the sudden change to the US a bit clunky, but otherwise enjoyed it.

I was a bit surprised that Hope was able to do quite physically demanding things without dropping dead on the spot, but I suppose that was possible. My uncle died of an aortic aneurism without its even being suspected.

And I think it's a great title.
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Old 04-20-2013, 08:45 PM   #7
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It's so long since I read it that I had completely forgotten the plot, which was good. I found the sudden change to the US a bit clunky, but otherwise enjoyed it.

I was a bit surprised that Hope was able to do quite physically demanding things without dropping dead on the spot, but I suppose that was possible. My uncle died of an aortic aneurism without its even being suspected.

And I think it's a great title.
Sorry to hear about your uncle Bookpossum. Mr. Hope had spent a lot of years living hard on the land so I figured myself that it had toughened him up a bit while leading to the heart trouble. Then again the force of will to see revenge through might also have played into it.
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Old 04-20-2013, 09:36 PM   #8
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Thanks, crich. It was a long time ago, but of course a great shock to everyone at the time.

Yes, I suppose that Hope was very tough and athletic because of the life he had led, and that would have helped him. And willpower is amazingly strong.
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Old 04-21-2013, 01:23 AM   #9
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Thanks, crich. It was a long time ago, but of course a great shock to everyone at the time.
You're welcome Bookpossum. I know what you mean about it being a shock to everyone. My dad died of heart trouble back in 1996 (he was only 58) and it was quite a shock to us as well. Even when the person has known health issues it's never expected. I imagine Jefferson Hope had had plenty of warning (the nosebleeds) when he was pushing himself too hard. I'd think Arthur Conan Doyle's medical background helped in the writing of his stories about the Great Detective.
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Old 04-21-2013, 04:20 AM   #10
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Honestly, I was a bit disappointed by the book. It was the first Holmes I'd ever read and perhaps I waited too long.

I liked the atmosphere, and I really liked reading from the horse's mouth what Holmes and Watson are originally supposed to be like in comparison to their many screen incarnations, and to get their back story with regards to what they were up to before meeting and how they came together. Also, I happened to really enjoy the mid-book U-turn that came out of absolutely nowhere and had me scratching my head. I definitely wasn't expecting half a book set in U.S. Mormon country from a Holmes book, with Holmes and Watson nowhere in sight, that's for sure!

I admit I don't know so much about Mormon history or the forming of Utah/Salt Lake City and all that, so I found it all quite interesting. I know he gave a very slanted and fictional view of it all, but still it inspired me to look up a bit of Mormon history and find out more about it.

All that said, I just didn't find the book so compelling otherwise. It has its place in history as one of the first mystery/detective books and helped to form a now-huge genre, so I respect it for that. And maybe I went in with expectations too high. And perhaps the Holmes books and stories get better as they go along. But regardless, I can't say I particularly cared for this one so much besides the points mentioned.
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Old 04-21-2013, 04:54 AM   #11
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I've not read this for some time but I generally enjoyed Part I, which centres on Holmes and the mystery.

Part II: The Country of the Saints I found much less effective, primarily because Jonathan Hope simply hasn't the charisma and interest that is generated by Holmes. The Victorian reader might well have enjoyed it more as there would have been an interest in Doyle's {slanted} portrayal of the Mormons while the tragic romance and revenge-for-love plot would have been right down their alley. I think most modern readers would find the villains to be cardboard figures and the maiden is also rather a stereotype. So that section hasn't aged well. It was with some relief that I returned to Baker Street!

But the second section dealing with the Mormons did have some interesting aspects. Doyle's description of The Danites isn't completely off the mark {though clearly he has fictionalised it for dramatic effect}. If you would like to read more about this area there is an interesting study by Leland Gentry, "The Danite Band of 1838". It can be downloaded free as a 28 page pdf document and can also be read in HTML format here: {I found the pdf download much easier to read}

http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...&ct=clnk&gl=ie
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:59 AM   #12
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I remember I liked this book when I first read it when I was a teenager (I'm guessing 14-15 yo). Now, 40 years later, not so much...
It was nice to return to the beginning of Holmes/Watson relationship and I enjoyed that part more than the rest of the book. I very much agree with Fantasyfan's view on part II.
Once the book was finished I had no desire what-so-ever to go look for more Sherlock Holmes books. I do remember reading quite few of them back in my teens, and also that I was pretty fascinated by them back then. I think the "scientific" side of them appealed much to me, and maybe today's abundance of forensic science TV series has made me "jaded". Back when they were published they must have bee ground breaking though!
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Old 04-21-2013, 07:55 AM   #13
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I remember I liked this book when I first read it when I was a teenager (I'm guessing 14-15 yo). Now, 40 years later, not so much...
It was nice to return to the beginning of Holmes/Watson relationship and I enjoyed that part more than the rest of the book. I very much agree with Fantasyfan's view on part II.
Once the book was finished I had no desire what-so-ever to go look for more Sherlock Holmes books. I do remember reading quite few of them back in my teens, and also that I was pretty fascinated by them back then. I think the "scientific" side of them appealed much to me, and maybe today's abundance of forensic science TV series has made me "jaded". Back when they were published they must have bee ground breaking though!
Asawi, do you have any opinion of the updated Holmes in the Sherlock series? I thought A Study in Pink was excellent.
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:08 AM   #14
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Asawi, do you have any opinion of the updated Holmes in the Sherlock series? I thought A Study in Pink was excellent.
I haven't seen it! I made a drastic cut down of my TV watching a caouple of years ago, but now that you say this I must try and watch that one somewhere!
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Old 04-21-2013, 11:42 AM   #15
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Briefly, I'm with the naysayers; it didn't hold up. Fun to revisit and refresh my memory about Holmes's and Watson's backstories and I loved the Victorian setting, but purely on its merits the story was lacking. As I mentioned in a different thread, I'm amused that so far this year we've had several examples of faulty use of a narrator; Watson is like Noel Strachan with his detailed knowledge of events in Utah that he couldn't possibly have possessed.

So, an amusing story but faulty as a detective story and as literature.
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