Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Devil and Sherlock Holmes - David Grann

The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness and Obsession comes from the pen of David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z. I had really enjoyed this true life tale of swashbuckling adventure in the Amazon so I was pleased to receive an ARC copy of his newest book. Sherlock Holmes noted that “life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent". Grann has taken that mantra to heart and presents a collection of true tales which feature obsession, perverse behaviour and even murder.

The collection starts with the apparent murder of the world's pre-eminent Sherlock Holmes scholar who is found dead following an obsessive quest for the missing archives of Arthur Conan Doyle. Grann progresses to arson detectives, an amnesiac guilt-ridden survivor of 9/11 and white supremist gangs. The scope is wide and far-reaching and Grann has clearly taken each story to heart, travelling to research and meet the characters involved. He even manages to make some pretty unsavoury characters seem sympathetic.

Because each story is free-standing, this is an easy book to read in pieces. In fact, each of these essays has been previously published, with the majority appearing in The New Yorker Magazine (although they have been revied and updated for this edition). This explains perhaps why the collection of essays in one edition doesn't seem to gel quite right. They are fantastic stories, but are better suited to piecemeal reading, rather than a continuous read.

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