Study in Scarlet was written in 1886 and published in 1887 in Beeton’s Christmas Annual magazine, and it is one of the four original full-length novels that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about his brilliant detective. It is set in late Victorian London and marks the first appearance in literature for the great advisory detective Sherlock Holmes.
Summary and synapse
Watson narrates the first section of the novel, detailing his brief service in the Second Afghan War, his injury, and the subsequent return to England. Having little to do with his time and few friends to spend time with, Watson soon falls into dire financial straits and decides he must find cheaper accommodation or leave London entirely. An old acquaintance introduces Watson to Sherlock Holmes, who is also looking to divide the cost of an apartment.
Watson begins to study Holmes’s strange habits, his experience in some areas, and his complete ignorance in others, to discern what Holmes is engaged in. It is not until Watson reads and denounces an article on the “science of deduction” that Holmes reveals that he is not only the author of the article, but also a new approach to detective work.
Holmes calls himself the world’s first consulting detective, and he often receives calls from members of Scotland Yard to help in very difficult cases.
Enoch Drebber’s body is discovered in an abandoned house in Lauriston Gardens, with no injuries, no signs of attempted robbery, with the word “RACHE” (German for “revenge”) written in blood on the wall above it. Holmes, with Watson in tow, analyzes the scene and makes many inferences, including the murderer’s appearance, that Drebber was administered poison and that a woman’s ring was accidentally left at the crime scene.
Holmes begins the investigation proper by visiting the patrol car (John Rance) who originally discovered the body. Rance reveals that a drunk had staggered to the scene while asking for help. Holmes concludes that the drunk was actually the murderer himself, he returned to the crime scene to collect the ring.
In his next attempt to stop the killer, Holmes places an advertisement in the newspaper for a woman’s ring found on Brixton Road. However, when someone appears to pick up the lost ring, it is an old woman who says that the ring belongs to her daughter. In order not to be deterred, Holmes follows the woman after she leaves and boards a taxi believing that she will eventually take him to the suspect.
Holmes is convinced that he has discovered the killer’s item and administers half of each pill to a sick terrier for demonstration. The terrier dies after the second pill and Holmes assures detectives that he knows who the killer is and that he has a plan to stop him.
Lestrade, Gregson and Watson are baffled, when a taxi driver suddenly arrives at the door and Holmes behaves as if he is suddenly leaving. The taxi driver comes in to help him move his luggage and Sherlock gives the man handcuffs and after a fight Jefferson Hope, the killer they had been looking for, declares him.
The second half of the novel is called “The Country of the Saints” and explains the backstory and motive for the killings. This section begins thirty years before the plot somewhere in the North American desert where a man named John Ferrier and a girl named Lucy are the last alive of a group of pioneers. They are discovered by a group of Mormons, who agree to receive them as long as Ferrier accepts that he will convert to Mormonism.
As Lucy grows older, she becomes engaged to a man, Jefferson Hope, who is not a Mormon. The church elder (Brigham Young) disapproves of the party and insists that Lucy has one month to choose a Mormon husband or suffer the consequences imposed by the Council of Four.
Ferrier sends Hope to help them escape. They flee the night before but Lucy is recaptured and Ferrier is killed in a fight. Back in Salt Lake City, Lucy is forced to marry Drebber. Although Hope tracks them down, he does not arrive before the wedding is celebrated and Lucy subsequently dies of a broken heart.
Hope vows to take revenge on both Drebber and Strangerson for their role in the matter and follows them both to Europe, where she takes a job as a taxi driver. Hope explains her reasoning and methods to the group as Watson declares that he has written down all the facts of the case and declares that he will disclose the actual facts, but until then Holmes must be content to know that he was right all along.
Genre: detective novel
Study in Scarlet is a novel that sets the tone for the detective genre. The story in which the protagonists are involved is completely influenced by solving the mystery that is presented to them. Despite his simple prose, he deals with highly controversial subjects such as organized cults.
- Sherlock Holmes: The protagonist of the story, a consultant detective for the London Police although he is rarely credited for his help.
- John H. Watson: The narrator of most of the novel, is a doctor in the British Army who was wounded during the war.
- Jefferson Hope: The antagonist and murderer of the case in which Holmes focuses.
- John Ferrier: Devout and moral, John Ferrier adopts young Lucy as his daughter after she is orphaned.
- Lucy Ferrier: John Ferrier’s adoptive daughter, grows up in the Mormon community as a strong and beautiful young woman.
- Enoch Drebber: Elder Drebber’s wealthy son, a leader among Mormons.
- Joseph Stangerson: He was one of Lucy’s unwanted polygamous suitors.
- Brigham Young: A fictional representation of the Mormon leader.
Holmes’ success in solving crimes stems from his ability to analyze small pieces of evidence and draw inferences from them. Abductive reasoning is a more accurate way of describing what Holmes does, since it is a type of logical inference to guess.
A Sherlock Holmes story usually begins with a display of his incredible abilities. Watson is amazed that Holmes knew he was from Afghanistan and that the man who went out was a retired military man. He is even more amazed by Holmes’ actions at the crime scene; The latter presents a portrait of the killer and enlightens Scotland Yard detectives on several important components of the case.
Arthur Conan Doyle grew up in a Catholic family, but ultimately decided to abandon the faith. Later in life he immersed himself in spiritualism. He was never a fan of organized religion, which is quite conspicuous in this work. Mormons are terrifying villains.
Their leader, Brigham Young, is young and ardent, possessed of arrogance and empire. The Danita Band, or the Avenging Angels, terrorize anyone who disagrees with the creed. Faith is characterized by secrecy, oppression, corruption, bribery, hypocrisy, and violence. Anyone who is perceived as a blasphemer faces death or mysterious disappearance. There are rumors of murdered immigrants and kidnapped women.
Doyle suggests that organized religion crushes independence, autonomy, and freedom of thought. Those who were persecuted can easily resort to persecuting those who they believe threaten them.