Mike's Reviews > The Devil & Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness & Obsession

The Devil & Sherlock Holmes by David Grann
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May 22, 11

Read in February, 2011

From my last few reviews it is apparent that I’ve recently gone through a Holmes/Doyle phase. When I began working on my dissertation a few years ago, I decided to read through the Holmes canon time. Because the stories were so entertaining (or perhaps because I wasn’t working diligently enough) I made my way through the 56 stories and four novels before I completed the dissertation. As I looked for a new leisurely read, David Grann’s The Devil and Sherlock Holmes caught my eye.

The book has little to do with the famous detective. Rather, it is a collection of columns by Grann, who is a journalist. This genre of journalists publishing books-length collections of magazine columns is pretty common (see Malcom Gladwell or Bill Simmons), but Grann offers something unique. He doesn't focus on a particular topic; he focuses ona state of mind. The columns cover a dazzlingly array of topics – e.g., the true life murder mystery of a Sherlock Holmes buff, a NYC firefighter’s tale of survival on 9/11, the tireless but fruitless efforts of baseball legend Ricky Henderson to get back into the majors when he is way past his prime, the crimes of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, the history of NYC’s underground waterworks and the men who maintain them – but they share a common concern with fixation and obsession. Nearly all of the columns delve into the hearts of men or women whose very being is defined - almost darkly so - by an inescapable drive. A fascinating read.
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