A Study In Scarlet: Sherlock Holmes #1
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
narrated by David Timson
(classic fiction, mystery)
This is a story I’d wanted to read (or listen to, I’m not particular) for a long time. I’d never read the story of how Sherlock Holmes and Watson meet and start their adventures, so when I noticed it on Audible I picked it up. I have seen the BBC’s latest take on this is the “Sherlock” TV series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Having seen that, I was curious to see what the original was like, and how much they changed for the TV and modern audiences.
So: we’ll start with the original story. I did enjoy it, parts of it quite a bit. It was great to see Holmes and Watson feeling each other out, and trying to get their relationship figured out. There’s a point there where it seems they may remain only flatmates and not become friends, but it doesn’t last long. My biggest complaint with this story is a section that starts about 3/5 of the way through the story. We’re being told a story in London, and trying to figure out a murder mystery, and then all of a sudden we are transported to Utah, with completely new characters and a very different plot. It took me a long time to be sure that I was listening to backstory on the murdered man instead of something accidentally added to my audiobook.
The narration suits the story well. I didn’t have any issues with Mr. Timson’s reading of this book. I’ve also listened to several other narrators read Holmes stories, and at this point they’re all kind-of blending together. I’m not going to rush out and find more books narrated by David Timson based on this audiobook, but neither will I avoid them.
As to the comparison between this story and the TV adaptation, they are both very like and very unlike each other. The plot itself (who is murdered, the murderer’s motivation, etc) are essentially different. However, the way the first murder is discovered is very similar. Also, the way Holmes and Watson meet are similar, as are their early steps toward friendship. (Not identical, mind you. But similar.) The conclusion is rather different, though. The TV version adds a lot more excitement and drama than the original, but that does suit our modern audiences as well as the TV format.
This story is very like other Sherlock Holmes stories. Conan Doyle’s writing style may have matured a bit from this first Holmes story to the later ones, but they style is still the same. If you enjoy other Holmes stories and yet haven’t read this one, I do encourage you to pick it up (just remember the confusing Utah section in the middle).