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

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  4,685 ratings  ·  677 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
Hardcover, First Edition, 338 pages
Published 2010 by Doubleday
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  4,685 ratings  ·  677 reviews

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Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019
The Devil & Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness & Obsession is a collection of articles by journalist, David Grann, which have previously been published in newspapers and magazines. For me they varied in interest and in quality but basically the whole selection made up an entertaining book.

I had an issue with the title which suggested more Sherlock Holmes than was delivered and I also felt that the stories had been gathered rather randomly and there was no cohesion, no theme. Maybe
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 ...more
Doug Beatty
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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
♥ Sandi ❣
3.75 stars

My search for the story of The Old Man and the Gun lead me to two separate books. This one and also The Old Man and the Gun: and Other Tales of True Crime. Both books are short stories analogies.

Twelve short stories, all true. Even the one on the fictitious Sherlock Holmes is based on the true figure of Dr Joseph Bell. Among the twelve some are happy and some are sad, but they all speak to the good and/or evil of mankind. Mystery, intrigue, and the unknown in life pulls these stories
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
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 ...more
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A superb selection of essays from renowned journalist David Grann. Neat pieces ranging from the scientific, to the mysterious, to the unexplained. Great book!
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, favorites
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 ...more
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.
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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
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 ...more
Angus McKeogh
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Several nonfiction pieces of reportage. Great stories. Some I’d heard a little about (but these stories went into much greater detail) and some were new to me. Very readable and never got boring. One of the better books I’ve read in quite some time.
Feb 12, 2010 rated it liked it
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
A collection of Grann's investigative pieces, on subjects ranging from the mysterious death of a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast to the decaying career of a former baseball star. There's no connecting thread, so although the articles themselves seem well-researched and pretty well-written, I wasn't wowed by this collection. It's not a book; it's just a bunch of his articles stuffed together so he can earn money on them a second time. Still, the subjects are often fascinating, so it's worth a single ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of nonfiction
This book offers a very odd collection of a dozen journalistic short stories chronicling the actions and behaviors of some strange and obsessive people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

As mentioned at the end of the book, nine of the twelve tales were first published in The New Yorker, with the remaining ones published elsewhere.

While each story was fascinating in its own way, I was most engaged I the beginning and began to lose interest about half-way through.

Engaging, but not riveting.
Lauren Stoolfire
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
While I didn't quite enjoy The Devil & Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, & Obsession quite as much as The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, this collection of investigative journalism essays is still engrossing. You can be certain, though, that David Grann is marvelous at piecing together the stories behind the mysteries. Anyway if you haven't read David Grann yet, I highly recommend his work and this collection of stories is as good as place as any to ...more
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a great book. A compilation of Grann’s various magazine articles. They are all fascinating and if they weren’t true would seem unbelievable. It’s an insight into some dark places and curious people. I highly recommend.
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
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
Mary McCoy
Sep 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Grann's the author of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, and he's super fun to read. This is a collection of essays, mostly from the New Yorker, about...well, loosely about people who are obsessed with things. The first essay's about the world's foremost expert on Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, who was found dead under suspicious circumstances while in the midst of a legal fight with Conan Doyle's estate - a fight with millions of dollars at stake. The case ...more
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
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 ...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.
Oct 06, 2010 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Aug 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, read-2010
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.
Jul 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
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David Grann has written about everything from New York City’s antiquated water tunnels to the hunt for the giant squid to the presidential campaign. His stories have appeared in several anthologies, including What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001; The Best American Crime Writing, of both 2004 and 2005; and The Best American Sports Writing, of 2003 and 2006. A 2004 finalist for the Michael ...more
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