“A Study in Scarlet” has a sophisticated narrative technique that is perfect. From the perspective of narrative layout, this novella is divided into two parts, with seven chapters in each part. The narrative sequence of the first part is as follows: Watson gets acquainted with Holmes — the reasoning method of Holmes — the murder happens — the police statement — the suspected murderer appears — the police statement — the murderer is caught. The second part is as follows: looking back to the past (that is, the motive of killing) — Watson supplement — Holmes explains the reasoning process. The whole narrative can be divided into three parts with the occurrence of the murder as the boundary. Before the crime, the first and second chapters are the chapters where the author sets up the characters to appear. Watson first learned about Holmes from a friend. His friend gave a very good summary of Holmes’s character in a few simple words, such as he was a strange man, a very decent man, his studies were messy, he was a little too hard on science, and so on. The role of this friend is to give Watson, and indeed the reader, an initial introduction to Holmes, and when the two meet and decide to share a room, the friend exits and disappears behind the scenes. The task of introducing Holmes to us fell to Watson. The author makes an ingenious shift of perspective, allowing Watson to amplify the magic of Holmes with several small events, such as knowledge table, argument with Holmes and reasoning on the identity of strangers.
In these two chapters, the narrator is not fixed. The narrative perspective constantly switches between Watson, his friend and Holmes, giving us a multi-dimensional understanding of the life situation and personality characteristics of Watson and Holmes. There are five chapters between the murder and the capture of the culprit. From the point of view of the complexity and brilliance of the narrative, this part of the content is undoubtedly the most worth tasting and analyzing. The author changed several narrators to make the plot more intense. When the postman brings a letter with information related to the murder, Holmes reads it and asks Watson to read it to him again. The letter is written by a policeman, Gregson, and read by Watson, who becomes the first narrator. Gregson, on the other hand, is the latent narrator. Then Holmes and Watson come to the scene of the crime. The two policemen again become the main narrators. By his own observations and the information provided by the police, Holmes got a preliminary understanding of the case. Then, the police officer who found the body described the discovery of the body as the main narrator, the police officer Gregson as the main narrator proudly announced his investigation process, Holmes as the main narrator confirmed to everyone that the dead died from taking poison, and caught the murderer. Basically, each chapter has a different narrator who tells the reader about the case from multiple perspectives.
When the police narrated the case as the narrator, Holmes supplemented the details that the police did not find as the second narrator. Such narration made the case complicated and confusing. All the people were in the fog, but Holmes had already reached the conclusion at this time. At this point, the murderer has been arrested, and is caught. This catches all the readers by surprise, for everyone, except Holmes, is in the dark. The criminal is suddenly caught, but the author does not explain to the reader how he killed, why he killed, and how Holmes learned who the criminal was. Normally, this would have been part of the first book, but Conan Doyle took a different tack, going back in time 30 years. The narrative space is transferred from London to the desert of North America. He tells us the motive of the murderer in the objective and calm third person with the content of five chapters. After going back through history, the author adds two more chapters. In the sixth chapter, after the first five chapters have laid the foundation for the motive of the murderer, Watson as the first narrator is actually the criminal Jefferson Hope as the second narrator to describe the criminal process in detail. At the end of chapter 7, when the criminal has died of illness, Holmes tells Watson his reasoning process. At this point, the whole novel really came to an end. Conan Doyle used dozens of narrators in “A Study in Scarlet”. The narrative perspective is constantly shifting from person to person (seemingly arbitrary, but actually carefully arranged by the author).
From the detective to the police, from the police to the criminal, and then to the author of the whole novel Watson. Conan Doyle weaves the whole story with the narrative structure of crime discovery, crime solving, crime story and reasoning process, which integrates love story, crime story, historical story and detective story, expands his creative horizon and greatly enriches the artistic charm of detective novel. From the irony and ridicule in the novel, we can also feel the skillful use of the narrative discourse, so that the listener can indirectly feel the thorns in the words through the derivation of the meaning. Such sarcasm actually attacks the face of the other party through narration, and it also plays an auxiliary role in the construction of the character image. It is in this way that the author gives us a description of a sharp, distinctive character of the detective image. Through the construction, metaphor and transformation of the narrative discourse, the author employs a lot of ink to render the characters of the three detectives, with the purpose of describing the incompetence and vulgarity of the official detective as a contrast to the wisdom and courage of the private detective. Moreover, the poor performance of these two detectives undoubtedly enhances the readability and entertainment of the novel, which enables the readers to enjoy the art of murder and achieve the artistic effect of relaxation after tension.