Book: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Edginton, illustrated by I.N.J. Culbard, A Study in Scarlet. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co., 2010.
Genre: Graphic Novel
Audience: Age 13 and up
Read Aloud: on your mark, get set, go
Summary: A man has been murdered on the Brixton Street in London. Soon after, another man is murdered at a hotel. Detectives Greggson and Lestrade ask for the help of an odd, but fairly well-known man, Mr. Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street. Mr. Holmes has a newly acquired flat mate, Dr. John Watson, who, soon after meeting Mr. Holmes, is made aware of Holmes’s awesome talent of observation. Watson accompanies Holmes on a trip to the crime scene, where Holmes makes a number of odd, but significant, claims about the murder and the murderer. Nevertheless, the truth is soon found out and the culprit is none other than Mr. Jefferson Hope of California. Mr. Hope admits to having poisoned the first victim and stabbed the second, and tells his side of the story, including why he was after his two victims. Mr. Hope dies of an aortic aneurysm while awaiting trial for the murders and Greggson and Lestrade take all of the credit for Holmes’s superb detective work.
Themes: One of the themes of the novel is observation. Holmes is an incredibly diligent observer, and as such, becomes more knowledgeable of circumstances than anyone could imagine. While Watson is increasingly impressed with Holmes’s impressively honed skills, Scotland Yard’s finest (Detectives Greggson and Lestrade) remain dumbstruck and indignant in the wake of Holmes’s ability to solve a crime they struggle with.
Another theme of the novel is revenge. The motivation of Jefferson Hope is to exact his revenge on the two men responsible for the deaths of his love, Lucy, and her father. A good portion of the novel is dedicated to Hope telling his story about how he was wronged and how he planned to wreak vengeance on the two men (victims Drebber and Strangerson).
Connections: Having never read a graphic novel or any of the Sherlock Holmes stories, I have to say this book is definitely one of a kind in my experience. The book doesn’t compare well to anything I’ve read previously, but I can say that it was equally as fascinating as any of the books I’ve read so far.
Reactions: I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The illustrations were wonderful and the writing was very authentic in style. It made me want to pick up the original Sherlock Holmes A Study in Scarlet to compare and contrast with the graphic novel. I felt connected to the characters and appreciated the fact that the language was not “dumbed down” like it could have been, considering Holmes’s extraordinary skills and vocabulary.
Reception: Seth, a reviewer for goodreads.com, says the book was well illustrated, but somewhat frustrating.
“In some ways I was frustrated that here was a mystery whose solution could not be logically inferred because we, the armchair detectives, found evidence withheld from us. All the same though, the depictions of Holmes and Watson and the rest are competently accomplished and Holmes especially carries with him an intriguing demeanor that pushes the reader forward on a journey of literary discovery.”
I disagree. I found the book intriguing and delightful and was able to follow along with the mystery perfectly well.
The Gluten Free Book Club says that the graphic novel remains relatively true to the original Sherlock Holmes mystery.
“This was a true representation of the original text, as best as I could tell. This encourages me to try other graphic versions of the classics. I do recommend this for anyone who might find it an interesting way to read classic novels.”
I have no idea if the graphic novel is, in fact, a good representation of the original story, but I would definitely like to find out.