Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes movie first reminded me of that movie from the '80s, Young Sherlock Holmes, which my family loved and watched many times. (I should mention that sometimes the movies we loved were loved just because my grandpa happened to tape them off the Disney Channel, so it was a matter of access rather than quality of the movie. From what I can remember, Young Sherlock Holmes was pretty good, but I haven't seen it since I was a teenager.) And then it reminded me that I'd never read a Sherlock Holmes story or book, although I've tried to make my son read them. This seemed like something I ought to remedy.

I decided to start with the first novel in which Sherlock Holmes appeared, published in 1897. For the most part, I thought it was delightful, but I was surprised and amused (and a little taken aback) that the background story of the crime was a highly imaginative tale about the crazy Utah Mormons, complete with harems, strict doctrine enforced by a violent and secretive death squad, and a "quote" borrowed from Heber C. Kimball (if I remember correctly), wherein he refers to his wives as heifers. I can see how the odd practices of 19th century Mormons could inspire such a colorful account. And I can also see how I should read Sherlock Holmes stories in the future, maybe kinda like I've read Dan Brown's novels--don't take it too seriously!

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