Two American travelers have been killed—one with poison, the other with a knife through the heart—and the only clues at the scene are a woman’s wedding ring and the German word for “vengeance” written in blood. The military surgeon Dr. John Watson is brought in to investigate, along with his clever, arrogant new roommate, Sherlock Holmes. Thus begins one of the most famous crime-solving partnerships of all time in this debut of one of literature’s most remarkable detectives. Doyle borrowed his major elements—the detective of superhuman intellect; cases as fantastical as they are criminal; the final, dramatic resolution—from the works of Edgar Allan Poe, adding his own distinctive touches: a strong feeling for the atmosphere of late-Victorian London, an interest in the methods of science, and a chivalric concern for justice and the oppressed.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) was born of Irish parentage in Scotland. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but initial poverty as a young practitioner led him into authorship. His first book introduced that prototype of the modern detective in fiction, Sherlock Holmes. He also wrote historical romances and two essays in pseudoscientific fantasy, The Lost World (1912) and The Poison Belt (1913).
"Valuable to Sherlockians as the beginning of an ageless saga, this novel is also an interesting mystery….Sure to be a hit with mystery readers.”—Library Journal|“[Holmes] is probably the only literary creation since the creations of Dickens which has really passed into the life and language of the people." (G. K. Chesterton)
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