A Study in Scarlet seems to be less about plot and more about "This is Sherlock Holmes. This is Watson. Behold their unlikely friendship, and lament their absence in the real world." That being said, Conan Doyle does not skimp on the plot.
The first time I read this I was about 10; so the Sherlock Holmes projected in the movie screen of my mind looked a little something like this:
|A very fancy mouse, indeed|
And then we have Watson. Dearest Watson. Without him, without his reasonable voice providing the narration, we would be entirely lost. Can you imagine if the story were told from Sherlock's perspective? I'm almost certain what goes on in his head borders on the sociopathic. And we would be privy to his every thought, which would eliminate his trademark Big Reveal and spoil all his fun. Besides, Sherlock's antics are far more amusing from the outside looking in. But Watson is much more than the straight man in this comedy duo. He is a hero in his own right, having served as a doctor in the second Afghan war. But he is a little sensitive, still recovering from a long illness following a serious war injury, and completely unaware of the Sherlock storm coming his way: "If I am to lodge with anyone, I should prefer a man of studious and quiet habits. I am not strong enough yet to stand much noise or excitement." Oh, Watson . . . little did you know.
|Watson is still a mustachioed mouse, as far as I'm concerned.|
|We know who the killer is, tra-la-la.|
So that's Part I, and then all of a sudden we're in the North American desert with a bunch of Mormons. And we're thinking, what the hell is going on here? Where is Sherlock?! I'm here only because I was promised there would be SHERLOCK. But there's a point to this tangent, and it turns out to be a convoluted and incredibly complicated back story to explain what Sherlock already deduced (mostly), and he's just going to have a little nip of cocaine while he patiently waits for us to catch up.
And then, just in case we were napping for the first 84 pages, there's a conclusion in which Sherlock explains each and every step of deductive reasoning that led him to the killer. As I was reading it, I was thinking, "Yes, I get it, Conan Doyle. I'm no Sherlock, but I don't need it spelled out for me AGAIN." But then I realized, it's not Conan Doyle who is underestimating our intelligence; it's Sherlock, the cocky bastard. He just needs to make sure that we/Watson see precisely how brilliant he is.
And we do, Mr. Holmes, we definitely do.