A Study in Scarlet, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (8 ratings)


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "A Study in Scarlet" is the literary debut of the world's most famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, introduced by Iain Sinclair with notes by Ed Glinert in "Penguin Classics".

Convalescing in London after a disastrous experience of war in Afghanistan, Dr John Watson finds himself sharing rooms with his enigmatic new acquaintance, Sherlock Holmes.

But their quiet bachelor life at 221B Baker Street is soon interrupted by the grisly discovery of a dead man in a grimy 'ill-omened' house in south-east London, his face contorted by an expression of horror and hatred such as Watson has never seen before.

On the wall, the word rache - German for 'revenge' - is written in blood, yet there are no wounds on the victim or signs of a struggle.

Watson's head is in a whirl, but the formidable Holmes relishes this challenge to his deductive powers, and so begins their famous investigative partnership. In his introduction, Iain Sinclair discusses the links between Sherlock Holmes mysteries and the Jack the Ripper murders, Conan Doyle's narrative style and his depiction of London.

This edition also includes further reading, a chronology and notes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was born in Edinburgh where he qualified as a doctor, but it was his writing which brought him fame, with the creation of Sherlock Holmes, the first scientific detective.

He was also a social reformer who used his investigative skills to prove the innocence of individuals. Iain Sinclair is the author of "Downriver" (winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Encore Award), and his latest book "Ghost Milk: Calling Time on the Grand Project" is published by Penguin.

Ed Glinert writes a regular column for "Time Out" magazine, and is the author of "The Literary Guide to London".

Glinert's latest book, "The London Compendium", is published by Penguin.

If you liked "A Study in Scarlet" you might enjoy "The Hound of the Baskervilles", also available in "Penguin Classics".


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic crime
  • ISBN: 9780140439083



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Showing 1 - 5 of 8 reviews.

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This is the first story concerning that most famous detective Sherlock Holmes and the doctor Watson. It concerns the first meeting of Holmes and Watson, the the case which cements Watson's desire to record Holmes' doings.I really enjoyed this rather pulpy detective story. It is fast-paced with very little deviation from the telling of the crime and the resolution.The main delight comes from the characters. Everyone knows of Sherlock Holmes, such as his deerstalker hat and pipe, and his ability to solve crimes. Now that I have read this story, I can appreciate his dry wit, towering arrogance and slight wistfulness that he never seems to garner the credit for solving mysteries.Watson is often represented as being rather stupid, but I infer from this story that he is merely naive about what human beings are capable of and doesn't have Holmes' expert knowledge of criminology. I loved the way that Holmes was patient and exasperated by turns when explaining his deductions to Watson. You also get a sense of the fact that Holmes is just dying to show off his abilities, and Watson's faithful recording of the case fits this neatly.The story loses half a star for two reasons, both of which are probably attributable to the time and manner of when it was released.The first is the abrupt switch from the location in London to the detailed story of Jefferson Hope, who hails from America. At first I was not at all clear why this had been introduced. I believe it may have been done because of the serialised nature of many Sherlock Holmes stories, enabling both new and existing readers to enjoy the tale, but it did jar somewhat.The second is the way that Mormons and Native Americans are dealt with, although I freely admit that this is due to modern sensibilities and an environment that now decries anything deemed not politically correct. I was a little shocked to see it, but accept that this is the peril of reading anything set in this era.Altogether, a pacy read with lovely dialogue and an instantly unforgettable character in the form of Sherlock Holmes.

Review by

This first of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes books introduces the character quite well with several references to his peculiararities. It's funny at times, graceful with explanations of character history and short enough to enjoy in a reading or two.

Review by

I'm sure I must have tried to read this many times before. But until recently, I have had some mental block preventing me from liking detective novels of any kind. I still mostly don't enjoy them, but this one was pretty fun to listen to.

Review by

This novel represented Sherlock Holmes's first outing. I enjoyed the first half in which the body is discovered and Holmes identifies the miscreant.. However, I found the second section, which takes the form of a potted history of the Mormom community in America, rather tedious.Still, overall I enjoyed coming back to this some thirty years after I first read it.

Review by

Funny... I guess I read this 30 years ago when I was a kid, and compared to the short stories, I didn't remember it too well... halfway through the book and all of a sudden there are four or five chapters in Utah with Bringham Young and the Mormons? Huh? What happened to the pocket watches and the gaslights and the coach-and-fours? Still great, of course.

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