Apologies, my benevolent ladies and gentlemen. This was supposed to be posted yestermorning, but alas, things happened. 🙂
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The brief plot of the two Sherlock Holmes novellas, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four, is known to the casual Sherlockian (excuse the fangirl lingo). For that reason I will be going over the plot only very briefly.
The motive for murder in both novellas is revenge. Yet in one of them it is revenge for love, Jefferson Hope’s Lucy was killed, while in the other one it is revenge for stolen treasure, the Agra jewels. Two such different things lead to the same result — death and Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
In this ‘review’, I will be expressing my opinion on the BBC’s miniseries Sherlock, as well as the Sherlock Holmes novellas, comparing the two, and pointing out things that I thought were interesting.
In A Study in Scarlet, Conan Doyle’s first work on the famous consulting detective, John Watson, an army doctor returning from Afghanistan, meets the famous (and almost godly!) Sherlock Holmes. In A Study in … Pink, BBC’s first episode of Sherlock, John Watson, an army doctor returning from Afghanistan, meets the famous (and definitely godly, beautiful, and OMGIMGONNADIEHEISSOMAGNIFICENT)
Benedict Sherlock Holmes. I find it an interesting coincidence that the actual John Watson is returning from Afghanistan, which I am assuming made sense at that time period, and the adapted John Watson can also return from Afghanistan because it makes sense in our time period, as well.
The story itself, as written by Conan Doyle, did not impress me. Firstly, I watched A Study in Pink before reading the novella, but I still expected the writing to be more exciting and breathtaking. Unfortunately, I thought that the episode was much more interesting, and rich in content than the original story. But, I think it is worthy to remark on a little piece of irony occurring between the show and the original text. In A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes sees rache written on the wall, and automatically knows that it means “revenge” in German, while making fun of Lestrade for thinking it was meant to spell Rachel. In A Study in Pink, however, Sherlock Holmes makes fun of Anderson for pointing out that the word is of German origin, and blatantly states that the writing was meant to spell Rachel. This instance excites me beyond explanation!
At the end of the novella, Conan Doyle includes this whole Western bit, as I like to call it. That annoyed me so much! Here we are in 19th century London, inside 221 Baker Street, observing Sherlock, John, and Jefferson Hope; suddenly! there is a desert in a God-forsaken place, unknown time period, totally different characters. The Western bit was somewhat useful in telling the whole story, but the transition between the two narratives was anything but smooth and voluntary. 3 stars just for that.
See what I did there with an abrupt transition? Yeaah…
The Sign of the Four was more engaging and interesting as a story. Conan Doyle gained some story-telling experience, and gave us an adventurous story of a lost treasure, roof-climbing barbarians, wooden-legged men, and shy but proud [yucky] Miss Morstans. Yuck yuck. The only thing I have to say about this novella in relation to the show Sherlock is … Watson, please, please, please, do not marry any Miss Morstans. In fact, do not marry at all, if that is not too much to ask for. Thanks.
Putting a woman in between Watson and Holmes (ahem, excuse that expression), ruins all of the chemistry they have together as best friends. Literal and metaphorical chemistry, that is.
Otherwise, the story was very interesting. The boat chase took my breath away, and when John and Sherlock were so close to death, my heart jumped (anatomically that would cause some horrible condition, of course, but I am not a doctor, but a writer, and I use metaphors. Always.) 5 stars for this.