As I've mentioned before, last week's Sherlock, the Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss "reboot" of the Sherlock Holmes stories, really lived up to the hype and then some (fingers crossed for a good second episode tonight.) Moffat's opener, "A Study in Pink," also did what the writers stated was one of the main intentions, of sending me back to Arthur Conan Doyle's original books. I've read A Study in Scarlet before of course, but I had a copy hanging around because (surprise surprise) it was one of the free Times classics in "Crime" week. So after a book that actually put me in a bad mood, when I was looking for something fun to cheer me up it seemed like an obvious choice. It did the trick too - having just seen Sherlock it was hard not to read it with that in mind but if anything it made it more enjoyable, as it shows that Moffat & Gatiss were right in saying the appeal of the books doesn't lie in their Victorian setting. Aside from the fact that Holmes is looking at horses' hoof marks instead of car tyre treads, the fun of him coming up with outrageously detailed information on a quick viewing, then untangling how he did it later on, is the same in any time period.
The book's structure sees Conan Doyle leave Dr Watson's journal for most of the second half of the book, and telling the background story to the murder/revenge that's being investigated (I read all the books in my teens and I have a feeling he did the same thing in other stories - The Sign of Four maybe? - but I'm not sure.) As a way of clearing up a mystery it's not the most satisfactory method but it still works all right as a boy's own story. It was fun comparing it with "A Study in Pink," and seeing how The Moff made his own story but still threw in elements of the original. And while I got the "Rache/Rachel" joke in the TV version, I didn't remember that the original has Holmes doing the same gag, but the other way round. Anyway, fun, and maybe I'll have to see if my copies of the remaining books are hanging around somewhere.