For a while now, I’ve been really excited to start reading the Sherlock Holmes novels by Doyle. This month I delved right into it, reading the first two in the series: A Study In Scarlet, (Sherlock Holmes #1) and The Sign of Four, (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Arthur Conan Doyle. I was silly and read The Sign of Four first because I had a physical copy and therefore physically ‘picked it up’ soon realising after that I should have listened to the Audible audiobook I have that is read by STEPHEN FRY! Why do I do this?
The reason why this was such a bad decision on my behalf was that I didn’t really enjoy The Sig of Four… when I finished reading it, I put it down and sighed. I expected so much better. As much as I loved seeing Holmes being portrayed much less of a robot-android detective than in the first book, there are parts of this story that really bored me. I often found myself drifting around in my head thinking about chores, revision and actual fun things…
The worst part was the ending. At about halfway through reading I decided to read and simultaneously listen to the audiobook in the hope that Stephen Fry could ignite my interest in the dull areas but, nope. I honestly just zoned-out. That last part where the villain tells his side of the story for a straight half-an-hour with the occasional interactions from Holmes and Watson was SO dull. Oh, my. I did not want to finish it. I was not interested at all. WHY did Conan Doyle abandon the amazing experience that is Holmes talking through the elaborate plans of his antagonists? It’s so brilliant to read! Anyway, at the end of the villain’s confession, Holmes is like, ‘Yeah, I knew all of that…besides that one thing. Didn’t think of that.’ It was almost a parody of Doyle’s own work? I don’t know…you could really tell that Doyle despised Holmes in this novel, or at least, that’s the impression that I got.
Another issue I had with The Sign of Four was the racism. I did not think it would be this prevalent in a text from only 100 years ago. I guess because I didn’t expect it, it made the racist remarks worse? I’m not sure but it was baffling at times.
The final problem (ha-haa) I have with The Sign of Four is the sheer lack of character development regarding Watson and Mary’s relationship. Now, I deliberately waited until I finished A Study in Scarlet before making a blog post about this because, as you know, I read the stories in the wrong order, however, I found it so out of the blue. As someone who doesn’t care for romance in films, books etc because of the fact that most of the time I find it cringey, toxic or just plain plot-filler, I did not enjoy the proposal at the end of the book. I feel this is mostly myself being pernickety and that most people will enjoy the majority of this book, but there you go!
A Study In Scarlet redeemed my faith in the Sherlock Holmes series. This was a blast. This was what I was hoping for without feeling as though I’d expected everything that I wanted. This book was vastly more interesting, engaging and humorous compared to The Sign of Four. I was constantly on edge, wanting Holmes to unravel more plots. I was so excited for the initial interactions of Holmes and Watson. This was such an amazing read. I would highly recommend starting off at the start, but certainly, question how important it is to you to read the marriage proposal because I’m sure (and hope) that the rest of the Holmes stories are intricately outstanding! Finally, I would highly recommend the Stephen Fry Audible audiobook collection, as usual, his reading was beautiful and hilarious!