I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.
With these words the young Dr. John Watson describes his new home after returning broken by injury and illness from the Empire's colonial wars in Afghanistan. Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, DL (1859 – 1930), wrote A Study in Scarlet in 1887, the first in the long series of reports by Watson of Sherlock Holmes' masterful and unique investigations. In this book the very young men meet each other for the first time and move into a shared apartment at the famous 221B Baker Street. I was able to forget about the nearly infinite renditions in film and television of Holmes' adventures easily, for, once again, those versions rendered only a small portion of the pleasures of the original written words. (But I do love the physical recreation of late Victorian London in the excellent BBC series with Jeremy Brett.)
All was fresh and new to me, despite the many broadcasts I've seen - Watson's discovery of Holmes' abilities and idiosyncrasies; his repeatedly astounded witness; the vain efforts of Lestrade and Gregson of Scotland Yard; the sovereignty with which Holmes resolved the case.
But there is much more - the delicious late nineteenth century language (usually only suggested in the films); the meta-fictional take-down by Holmes near the beginning of the book of previous fictional detectives; the lengthy and in every respect absurd background digression into a fanciful mid-American desert with a Sierra Blanco mountain (!) and clumsy grizzly bears (!) with a 1500 mile (!) trail of death lined by bones and a 5 year old girl wrapped up in a shawl and carried over a shoulder for many days... Wow! That's fun! And when you consider Conan Doyle's version of American slang, you can throw in "funny"...
As I had hoped, this read was very entertaining, and it's a damn good thing, too, because I bought the two volume, 2,000 page complete Sherlock Holmes issued by Barnes & Noble. (!)