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A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes) by Arthur Conan Doyle
Cover Artist: Gris Grimly (also interior art)
Review by Gayle Surrette
Balzer + Bray Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062293756
Date: 17 February 2015 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: A.C. Doyle's Website / G. Grimly's Website / Show Official Info /

John Watson and Sherlock Holmes meet and deal with their first adventure in A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. This story is beautifully illustrated by Gris Grimly. The story is engaging and the characters and their relationship is much as you'd expect if you've read Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories.

John Watson was injured while in service to the government and is recovering. He is also in need of finding affordable and acceptable housing. Using his network of friends, he is introduced to Sherlock Holmes, who is also seeking housing. They decide they'll fit well enough and find an apartment at 221B Baker Street, London.

Watson becomes curious about Holmes and sets about observing him, trying to figure out what he's studying and what he hopes to do with his future. Detective was not what he would have guessed, but Holmes does not hide his abilities or ambition under a basket. When a case comes his way, he invites Watson to come along.

A man has been found dead in an empty house. He has a look of horror on his face. The word "Rache" has been written on the wall in blood. While seeming to ignore this case, Holmes is gathering data and fact checking the information he already has. Since this is a Sherlock Holmes story, readers know he'll solve the case. The mystery is in why the man was killed, who did it, and how was it done.

There are illustrations of scenes from the story throughout. While a bit whimsical, much of the detail is historically accurate and very germane to the scene the illustration depicts. The rich detailing of background added greatly to the story being told.

The story itself is a bit jarring in the middle. Readers may feel that they've strayed into another genre altogether as we suddenly find ourselves in the American west, with totally different characters than we've been reading about so far. Stick with it because it all will eventually come clear why this seemingly unrelated story is important to the main plotline.

I'll note that this is not a graphic novel. It is instead a lovingly illustrated edition of the origin story of two famous literary characters -- Holmes and Watson. I found the story engrossing and the illustrations delightful. This volume would make a lovely gift for any fan of the Holmes/Watson stories and a great introduction to someone wondering where to begin.

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