A Study in Scarlet is the first Sherlock Holmes adventure, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1866. It is in the public domain and has been transferred to electronic text by optical character recognition. These chapters have been reformatted and cleaned of OCR errors by rootbeer277.
The story opens introducing the reader to Dr. John H. Watson, who will be our narrator for the remainder of Doyle's stories as he chronicles the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. He begins by telling us of his misadventures in the Second Afghan War, and how he returned to England sick, wounded, and in need of a roommate to share the expense of housing. He soon meets Sherlock Holmes, who was looking to split the rent at 221B Baker Street, and before long tags along with him in solving a difficult mystery.
Part II begins with a sudden and unexpected shift — in time twenty years earlier and in location to the United States of America — filling in the background of the murderer's motives and providing a less than flattering portrayal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the process. Chapter 6 brings us back to the main story, with the final chapter detailing the train of logic, evidence, and deduction which allowed Holmes to solve the murder.
In addition to the characters of Watson and Holmes, A Study in Scarlet also introduces Inspector Lestrade, a Scotland Yard detective who appears in other Sherlock Holmes stories and beginning in 1985 gets his own series of books by Meirion James Trow. In Doyle's stories, Lestrade's character comes across as competent but clearly out of his league when compared to Holmes.
A Study in Scarlet quickly establishes Holmes' character as more than a little on the immodest side, perhaps to compensate for his lack of official recognition by Scotland Yard, who certainly would have been lost without him on numerous occasions. By showing Holmes' disdain for the previous fictional detectives Auguste Dupin (Edgar Allan Poe) and Monsieur Lecoq (Emile Gaboriau), Doyle is also telling us how he intends to modernize detective fiction, while acknowledging his forerunners.
Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D., Late of the Army Medical Department
Chapter 1: Mr. Sherlock Holmes
Chapter 2: The Science of Deduction
Chapter 3: The Lauriston Garden Mystery
Chapter 4: What John Rance Had to Tell
Chapter 5: Our Advertisement Brings a Visitor
Chapter 6: Tobias Gregson Shows What He Can Do
Chapter 7: Light in the Darkness
The Country of the Saints
Chapter 1: On the Great Alkali Plain
Chapter 2: The Flower of Utah
Chapter 3: John Ferrier Talks with the Prophet
Chapter 4: A Flight for Life
Chapter 5: The Avenging Angels
Chapter 6: A Continuation of the Reminiscences of John Watson, M.D.
Chapter 7: The Conclusion