I'm not sure why I enjoyed this quite as much as I did. It's the first Sherlock Holmes story. A man is found murdered in an abandoned house with a lurid call for revenge written in blood above him. Sherlock and Watson are, unsurprisingly, On the Case.
On the face of it, it has all the markings of a terrible book that should not have survived as long as it has. Conan Doyle is incapable of writing believable characters apart from the intelligent Victorian gentleman (Sherlock and Watson); the Cockney accent he attempts at one point is just dire, and all the characters spout long speeches at unlikely moments. Oh, and halfway through Conan Doyle shifts away from Victorian London to the state of Utah, complete with Mormons and a highly melodramatic tale of lost love.
But...I did enjoy it, and I don't know why. It's short, and this edition is a joy to read, which might be part of it. Sherlock Holmes and his Science of Deduction are fascinating, Watson's narration is delightfully sardonic and sceptical, and the actual story is engaging and interesting. A murder mystery in Victorian London is the perfect novel for me. So I suppose I can ignore the unlikely dialogue and inflated language for a good plot and a fascinating character. It's all Watson's fault if I didn't like it, anyway.