Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Obviously, concurrent explorations of mysteries, thrillers, 19th century literature and comic book source material were eventually going to lead me to Sherlock Holmes, the literary detective prototype himself. A Study in Scarlet was Arthur Conan Doyle's first Holmes story, first appearing in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887. My own introduction to the character came indirectly through Sesame Street:
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In this initial tale, the narrator Dr. John Watson meets the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes for the first time. The amateur yet expert sleuth is called in to help his police friends on a murder case. As we all know perfectly well 134 years later, Holmes unparalleled gifts for observation and deductive reasoning bring him to decisive conclusions quickly.
Though not before the author takes us on a long and unexpected segue to the American West. For five chapters, we get a back story for the murderous motive set in Utah. The tale is not a bad one, though it has been omitted or at least greatly truncated in all screen adaptations ever since. Doyle's unfair and unflattering depiction of the Mormons hasn't helped much in the side narrative's long-term survival.
Speaking of adaptations, anyone familiar with Stephen Moffatt's Sherlock series would recognize similarities in the first episode, "A Study in Pink," most obviously Holmes instantaneously sussing out that Watson was a military doctor in Afghanistan (there was a war there back then, too). In truth, despite the tropes well-established before them, I couldn't help envisioning Holmes and Watson as Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman respectively in the modern update:
I expect I'll be spending a lot of time with these two gentlemen over the next several months.