The Devil & Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness & Obsession
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The Devil & Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness & Obsession

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  1,965 ratings  ·  370 reviews
Acclaimed New Yorker writer and author of the breakout debut bestseller The Lost City of Z, David Grann offers a collection of spellbinding narrative journalism.

Whether he’s reporting on the infiltration of the murderous Aryan Brotherhood into the U.S. prison system, tracking down a chameleon con artist in Europe, or riding in a cyclone- tossed skiff with a scientist hunti...more
Kindle Edition, 418 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2010)
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Toni
Picked this up after reading a fabulous New Yorker story (about murder and political intrigue in Guatemala) by David Grann. Was curious to see what else he had written -- as it turns out, that would be basically ALL of my favorite New Yorker stories over the last decade, or since whenever I started subscribing. I blame the infrequency of his byline for my lack of name recognition -- but sure enough, as I made my way through I recognized one after another story, each of which I remember falling h...more
Nikki
Collection of essays that are increasingly less to do with Sherlock Holmes as the book goes on -- the title is simply to draw people interested in Sherlock Holmes-ian mysteries, I think. There's some interesting cases here, though they don't all seem to share much of a theme. Mostly reminds me that people are very odd, sometimes.
Doug Beatty
I have to preface this review and tell you that David Grann is a good writer, and the essays that I did read I enjoyed.

The reason for the three star rating is mostly because it is being billed as a "true crime" book, and indeed, in the library, it is given the 364 call number signifying true crime.

I love true crime and when the new books come in, I like to grab them and read them (or in this case, listen). This collection of essays does have some true crime and those stories I really did enjoy...more
Kim
An eclectic collection of essays written by David Grann I wasn't sure what I was in for. I've never heard of the author before but the blurb was interesting and the book was cheap.

The first essay about the death of Sherlock Holmes expert Richard Lancelyn Green was, I felt, a poor choice of opening work. I realise it was chosen to link with the Holmes aspect but it was a confusing, disjointed article and if the rest of the book was in that vein I would not have completed it.

From there though the...more
Nancy Oakes
and now for something completely different.

I've had my eye on this book ever since I learned that it was going to be published, and probably pre-ordered it months ago. The author, David Grann, is the author of Lost City of Z, one of my all-time favorite books. Grann isn't a novelist, but rather he writes wonderful essays, and has been featured in the New Yorker. So you should assume immediately that this book isn't going to be another Sherlock Holmes pastiche, because it's not. Instead, it's a b...more
Mary McCoy
An edge-of-the-seat collection of investigative journalism that combines crime pieces (the Mafia-like rise of the Aryan Brotherhood in the federal prison system) and subjects that simply present puzzling questions (What's up with the giant squid? Or New York City's water supply? Or Rickey Henderson?).

Standouts in the book include the title piece about the suspicious death of one of the world's leading Holmes scholars, shortly after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's papers were put up for auction; "True C...more
J.R.
David Grann has a knack for ferreting out intriguing stories about eccentric, obsessed people.

This collection comprises 12 essays previously published in a variety of magazines, and not one of the dozen is a dud. In addition to extensive interviews with his subjects, Grann rounds out their stories with additional research.

Some of the essays are mysteries in the broadest sense. These would include the story of the Sherlock Holmes scholar who may or may not have been murdered, the serial imposter...more
El
In The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, Grann's focus was the British explorer Percy Fawcett and Fawcett's driving obsession to find El Dorado. For his second book, Grann's focus is on... well, more obsession and madness.

The title of this book is actually misleading. There is only one essay that involves Sherlock Holmes in any way. I was disappointed for a good twenty seconds after realizing that, but then I realized the next essay was just as good. Grann's journalistic...more
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: I loved David Grann's debut book "The Lost City of Z" and really wanted to read this when I heard about it.

An extremely interesting book on a variety of different topics. A collection of previously published articles mainly from "The New Yorker" magazine, with three being from other magazines. These are investigative journalism where the author goes out to meet the people involved, shadow them as they go about their business, and interviews criminals in jail, in search of the...more
Leah Darrow
This book covers a series of true crime cases, with each chapter devoted to a particular case. The cases are quite wide-ranging and extremely interesting.

The first chapter is about an Arthur Conan Doyle scholar who was obsessed with getting a bunch of never-seen personal papers from Doyle's grand-niece. Then he was murdered in this super mysterious way, which obviously was like catnip to all the Sherlock Holmes fanboys out there. So the chapter talks about the circumstances of the case, and pos...more
Dennis D.
I was more than halfway through David Grann's The Lost City of Z (and loving it), when I saw that the author had this new book coming out. I don’t usually read two works by the same person back-to-back, but I made an exception for this since it was non-fiction, and also not one of a series. Grann is a staff writer for New Yorker magazine, and this book is a collection of essays and articles that were previously published there, as well as a few from the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and...more
Jean
I enjoyed David Grann's first non-fiction "The Lost City of Z" so when I saw this one, and it was about Sherlock Holmes, I thought I would give it a try. The subtitle, "Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession," also sounded like just my thing. It seemed to be a series of articles by Grann about solving mysteries, Sherlock Holmes-style.
The first section was great. There was an article about a Sherlock Holmes collector and a couple of mysteries. The last article in this section was about a firefi...more
Bob Redmond
Grann's journalism for The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and The New Yorker is collected here, in twelve pieces.

Modern-day noir, they deal with fringes of society: prisons, criminals, and misanthropes, for the most part, with a few other pieces--on baseball Hall-of-Famer Rickey Henderson, on a giant squid-hunter, on a fireman from 9/11 who has amnesia--thrown in rather randomly.

The titular piece delves into the world of "Sherlockians," a cross-section of antiqu...more
Joshua
David Grann is one terrific writer. After enjoying the heck out of his THE LOST CITY OF Z [five star review from me!] last year, I had to get his recent work of non-fiction from the library without knowing a single thing about it. Come to find out, I'd actually read a bunch of these essays by Grann since he wrote many for the New Yorker. I skipped over the ones I remembered, re-read the ones I didn't remember and greatly enjoyed the ones I had never read. Grann tends to cover ground that I'm int...more
MK Brunskill-Cowen
Grann plumbs the dark side of humanity in this book, which looks at 12 different cases of murder, obsessions and/or mis-applied justice and tries to make sense of them. The most agonizing case has to be that of Todd Willingham, the Texas father who was recently executed for the deaths of his children, although the evidence against him was primarily based on "voodoo" science. I felt for Kevin Shea, the NYFD fireman who survived 9-11 and doesn't know how. Then there are the stories of obsession -...more
Erik
The best nonfiction book I have ever read, period. All of the stories in this book, real life stories mind you, are absolutely spell binding, adding to the old adage of truth being stranger than fiction, and they are masterfully written. They range from a murder mystery involving obsessive Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle fans, to Haitian dictators, giant squid hunters, horrifying prison gangs, a chameleon con man, and many more. Credit must be given to David Grann, a captivating writer who ha...more
Chris
A wonderful collection of essays by David Grann. In keeping with his book The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, Gramm focuses on obsession. Whil a good portion of the essays focus on crime or crime related stories, there are some notable ones that do not. In this collection not only when you meet the old gentleman stick up man, but a squid hunter (who wants to study them) and the sandhogs under New York.

Each of the essays are well written and beautifully told. There is so...more
Caroline
David Grann is a terrific writer, and I loved "The Lost City of Z," but this set of stories (all previously published in magazines) does not satisfy the reader in terms of thematic continuity or real mystery-style excitement. Were they all in the league of the first story, about the mysterious death of an obsessive Sherlock Holmes enthusiast, this would be four or even five stars. Some verge on dull, even the final story about a Haitian warlord and the essay about a researcher chasing the elusiv...more
Trin
Terrific collection of investigative essays on topics ranging from murdered Sherlockian scholars to giant squid. I loved Grann’s full-length nonfiction book, The Lost City of Z, and as he did in that work, Grann once again proves his skills at plumbing the depths of obsession with these fascinating short pieces. If you’re obsessed with obsession (as I am), you will easily become enthralled by this book.
Cynthia
Moderately interesting, a collection of what must have originally been articles in the new yorker the atlantic etc. Although they're well written and interesting, about 2/3 ofthe way through each essay I found myself thinking, "What's the point of this article and why am I reading it?" But if you dont feel that way about New Yorker articles, you might enjoy this. I did fully enjoy his article on Ricky Henderson, it was fascinating and I dont even like baseball and I didn't know who ricky henders...more
LAPL Reads
A fascinating collection of investigative journalism about real-life mysteries, baffling crimes, and eclectic curiosities by the bestselling author of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon.

Many of the collection's best essays deal with criminal cases. The book's title comes from the piece "Mysterious Circumstances," where Grann investigates the suspicious death of one of the world's leading Sherlock Holmes scholars, while in "True Crime," a Polish police detective attempts...more
Ellen
Okay, the reason I didn't like this book that much was my own fault. I thought, "Hey, I liked his last book, and now he's writing about the devil and/or Sherlock Holmes!" In fact, this is a collection of Grann's previous reporting, largely for the New York Times. Most of the essays were interesting but had no connection to the title or to each other.
Kirk
I could not finish this book. It wasn't what I was expecting. I thought I would get a compilation of Sherlock Holmes stories. I know I should have read a review and I would have known this but I went off the title. My fault.
Henk Rijks
Verzamelde longreads van een van de grote staff writers van The New Yorker. Niet alles even sterk, maar alleen al de moeite waard vanwege het openingsverhaal. Beter leze men The Lost City Of Z, van dezelfde auteur.
Steve
A series of reprinted articles. Sort of thing I'd rather dip into occasionally rather than read from cover to cover. The two stories I read were quite good.
Ashleycarolhall O'Toole
this is so interesting. lots of little mysteries...not everything has to do with sherlock or conan doyle, but very intriguing!
Gerry O'Malley
Dec 27, 2013 Gerry O'Malley rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Fans of true crime
The full title of this book is THE DEVIL AND SHERLOCK HOLMES: TALES OF MURDER, MADNESS AND OBSESSION. David Grann is an investigative journalist and many of the essays in this book are reprinted from original articles in the New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly. The essays were selected for inclusion in this collection in part because they describe people with unusual stories and obsessions. To me, those are the least interesting stories in this book. Grann is at his best when he is writing about crim...more
Salvatore Leone
Separate, true crime stories, not fictional, and most of them pretty fascinating. A very good read.
Amanda
Grann’s book dives into a number of fascinating topics, from the title story about a Sherlock Holmes expert who mysteriously dies while trying to uncover some of Conan Doyle’s unpublished works, to a French con artist who impersonates children and gets away with it, to an elderly man who has reached retirement age but can’t seem to stop robbing banks.
Grann is a thorough researcher and is able to deftly navigate the topics of each story, whether they focus hunting giant squids or the New York Cit...more
Robb
Collection of stories published over the course of the writer's career, mostly in the New Yorker I think. Author puts together an interesting collection of topics starting with the family of novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and what became of his papers. Many "sherlockians" and/or "doylians" aka the fanatical followers of the Sherlock Holmes character have been interested in Doyle's life and his personal letters that mysteriously disappeared over the years.

Another story I enjoyed was the search...more
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David Grann is a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. He has written about everything from New York City’s antiquated water tunnels to the hunt for the giant squid to the presidential campaign.
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, published by Doubleday, is Grann’s first book and is being developed into a movie by Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company and Paramount Pic...more
More about David Grann...
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