Sherlock Holmes is arguably the world’s most famous detective. Today, many people know his name from  the cinematic universe by the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch. However, the true genius behind the creation of the amazing detective is Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Study in Scarlet is the first of four novels that marks Holmes’ first appearance. It was introduced by Doyle back in 1887. This novel follows a mysterious string of deaths that seem to be occurring all over London with no apparent connection.  With the help of his newfound acquaintance, Dr. John Watson, Holmes must solve this mystery before the killer escapes.

The most unique aspect of the novel is that it is told from the perspective of Watson. This strategic move by Doyle allows the reader to quickly develop an emotional connection with the character and helps eases the process of characterizing Watson. Not only does Watson act as the narrator of the novel, he also bridges the connection between Holmes and the reader. I found that I often reacted in the same way Watson did to the amazing feats of Holmes. It is as if Watson’s role was to represent the readers’ reaction to meeting Holmes.

What makes this book so reader-worthy is Doyle’s storytelling. His careful use of diction and amazing imagery engulfs the reader into the universe of Holmes and Watson. He carefully draws and mesmerizes the reader while throwing them into the mystery of the novel. Many times, I caught myself stopping just to imagine the scenery and mood of the setting.

In addition to his writing, Doyle also divides the novel into 2 different parts. The first follows Holmes and Watson in their journey to solving the mystery while the second part follows the antagonist. By adding the second part, Doyle forces the reader to empathize for the villain. I caught myself many times actually cheering on the murderer.

I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good old mystery. The plot is rather straight forward, however, the emotional connection the reader develops with the different characters drives the need to read more. Doyle manages to leave the reader at a cliff-hanger at the end of every chapter which only made me want to read more.

All in all, The Study in Scarlet was very enjoyable because of its unique, yet powerful, storytelling. The characters are both likeable and are easily sympathized with. The deadly combination of a tantalizing narrative and solid characterization will trap you and make you keep asking for more. If you enjoy either one of these aspects then this is a great novel for you.

And for those who prefer to watch their stories instead of reading them, I do recommend checking out Downey Jr’s and Cumberbatch’s interpretation. They definitely do Holmes justice. But after all of that, come back to relive the magic with Doyle.

By Paul Mai