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A Study in Scarlet

Arthur Conan Doyle

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A Study in Scarlet is the novel which first introduced Arthur Conan Doyles’ iconic characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. It was published in 1887, initially in a popular magazine, Beeton’s Christmas Annual. It apparently attracted little public attention at the time, but interest in Holmes continued to build with the subsequent long series of short stories Doyle wrote featuring the austere, analytical detective, who is now one of the most well-known characters in all of English literature.

A Study in Scarlet is told from the point of view of Dr. John Watson, a medical doctor who has recently returned to London after suffering serious injury and illness as part of the Army Medical Department deployed to Afghanistan. In precarious health and even more precarious financial straits, he is looking for cheap lodgings when a friend introduces him to Sherlock Holmes. The pair agree to share the rent of a flat Holmes has found.

Watson is baffled by the strange nature of his companion; his peculiar interests; his unusual breadth of knowledge in certain fields together with his unusual ignorance in others; the many strange vistors he has in the flat. Only eventually does Watson discover that Holmes has set himself up as the world’s first “consulting detective.” It’s not long before Watson finds himself assisting Holmes in a mysterious case. The body of a man has been found in an abandoned house. No marks of injury or wounds are on the body. But on the wall, scrawled in blood, is the word RACHE. The subsequent unravelling of the mystery takes many unexpected turns.

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