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

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  3,472 Ratings  ·  539 Reviews
Although Holmes is the subject of just one of the stories in this collection, all 12 contain elements of intrigue: a Polish detective trying to determine whether an author planted clues to a real murder in his novel: an investigator racing to prove whether a man about to be executed is innocent; and scientists stalking a sea monster.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 3rd 2011 by Simon & Schuster Ltd (first published 2010)
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Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a marvelous collection of David Grann's reporting. The subtitle describes them as "tales of murder, madness and obsession," and that's as good a summary as any for the variety of pieces here.

My favorite stories in this book were about the suspicious death of a Sherlock Holmes fan; the life of a Frenchman nicknamed "The Chameleon" who was a serial imposter; the ordeal of a firefighter who was trying to reconstruct what happened to him on 9/11; the hunt for giant squid; the rise of the pri
This is a compilation of articles by the author from 2003-2009 previously published in upscale mags like the New Yorker & the Atlantic. There are some brief updates to most & links if you're curious as to the rest of the story. Grann has done in-depth coverage of a wide range of topics. Not all were to my taste, but I believe his reporting was well done, although not always well balanced. Still, I highly recommend it. Very well read & perfect as an audio book, although I found the Wi ...more
The Devil & Sherlock Holmes is a collection of David Grann's investigative journalism, covering a wide range of topics (though, as the subtitle of this book suggests, he is a bit fixated on stories of murder, madness and obsession, particularly the latter).

David Grann is very good at what he does, and this collection is proof of that. All the essays in this book have been previously published in newspapers and magazines, including the two essays that gave the inspiration for the mashed-up t
Doug Beatty
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
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
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
On more than one occasion, I have feared for this journalist's life while reading his New Yorker stories. No, he doesn't risk life and limb reporting from battlefields overseas. Rather, he files his reports from pretty much anywhere and everywhere, shining light over obsessive and sometimes very, very odd human behaviors. This is a collection of his work over the last some odd years mostly for the New Yorker. The subjects of his stories, as best I can put it, have leapt over some kind of metapho ...more
SoManyBooks SoLittleTime (Aven Shore)
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who like true crime, Jon Krakauer-style investigative journalism
I listened to the whole book waiting for the title to make sense. At the last chapter, it dawned: the first chapter is about Sherlock Holmes, and the last is about the Devil of Haiti- Toto Constant.

The book is a collection of journalistic essays/stories spun out with suspense and to the perfect length- excellent detail, but still well-paced. The stories as a whole have little to do with each other (hence my title confusion), but most were extremely interesting to me. I loved the giant squid exp
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.
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
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
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-audio, quest
This was a splendid collection. I thoroughly enjoyed ever article other than the baseball one. I'm just not a sports fan, and didn't have my interest piqued in the first few minutes, so I skipped it. The rest of the articles were wonderful and engaging. Very well written, and full of immediacy. The author has gotten to meet some incredibly interesting individuals.

Highly recommend this one.
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
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
THE DEVIL AND SHERLOCK HOLMES. (2010). David Grann. ***1/2.
This is a collection of twelve articles previously published in popular magazines; nine in “The New Yorker,” one in “The Atlantic,” one in the “New Republic,” and one in the New York Times Magazine. They all fit the subtitle of “Tales of Murder, Madness and Obsession.” There is an art to picking a title for a book. For example, I’ve worked one out that is: “Obama, Princess Di, and Transsexuals.” It should sell a bunch of copies based on
Mary McCoy
Sep 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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
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.
Matt Bizzell
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection of stories covered by Grann is fantastic. There are maybe altogether two that I would not recommend wholeheartedly to anyone, irrespective of their knowledge or interest in any of the subjects covered throughout. It's lengthy, but taking it slow was actually really rewarding for me.
Aistė Aidukaitė
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
What I liked the most about this non-fiction, is how many interesting details the stories have, and, seeing this collection is exclusively about crime and criminals, how little of those details are gruesome. That is something I usually find off-putting about the true crime books, although the actual stories interest me very much.
Bob Peru
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting collection of pieces.
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
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
Dennis D.
Mar 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Julie - Book Hooked Blog
Another book written by a successful journalist that combines my favorite aspects of interesting stories and quality reporting. Each of these essays concerns a certain type of obsession (although some are more successful at this than others - see below) and Gann has clearly and thoroughly researched each piece. He presents each story in an unbiased manner, and includes lots of quotes from interviews conducted with those closest to each story. A great combination of quality reporting and a
Leah Darrow
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Thanksgiving road trip book. I didn't like it much, but how to describe it?

I knew this was going to be a collection of true stories, but I thought there would be more cohesion. As expected, the first few chapters are all about crimes: the murder of a Sherlock Holmes mega-fan... or was it a clever suicide? A chapter on the (probable) execution of an innocent man in Texas... another on a man who changes identities like a hermit crab changes shells... then the book takes a turn. The next chapter i
Jenn C
How far will someone go?

An engaging collection of stories tied together by a common thread of obsession. The Devil & Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness & Obsession can be read in bites - the stories are loosely bound together in three parts, each focusing on a different kind of "obsession." Most involve a crime of some sort or other, but there are three that do not. My least favourite in the collection was "Stealing time" (about Ricky Henderson). I don't follow baseball and he so
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
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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
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