Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A textbook on becoming more like Sherlock Holmes.

There are books you read for pleasure and books you read for study, and it is an important distinction to make when approaching any book for the first time. The Sherlockian field is full of books of both types, leaning more toward the "entertainments" side, but make no mistake, there are serious studies to be made in the world of Sherlock Holmes . . . something you will quickly find out if you pick up How To Instantly Size-Up Strangers Like Sherlock Holmes by Mark A. Williams, Sr.

The title may be a bit long and sound a little like a trendy business strategy book, but How To Instantly Size-Up Strangers Like Sherlock Holmes is not that at all -- it's a textbook. A textbook on the methods of Sherlock Holmes, meant for the serious study of same. We all know that Sherlock Holmes himself proposed "to devote my declining years to the composition of a textbook which shall focus the whole art of detection into one volume," and while we all would love to one day see that book, it is always a joy to me to see someone making an honest effort to recreate our hero's intended efforts. And Mark Williams has made a very good effort.

How To Instantly Size-Up Strangers Like Sherlock Holmes is written like an instructional textbook, to be sure. It's not going to be something you read to wander off on the gaslit streets of Victorian London for the pure joy of it. But its weighty 384 pages contain an impressive amount of research, reference, and thought on what it takes to actually put together a Sherlock Holmes skillset, and will reward anyone who is seriously interested in the study of those. The author is definitely a Sherlockian who had done a thorough study of the Canon and looked closely as what tools Holmes uses in his cases.

In a world where a (relatively speaking) big-budget, widely popularized thing like CBS's Elementary exists with scant thought or research into how Sherlock Holmes actually worked, How To Instantly Size-Up Strangers Like Sherlock Holmes falls at the exact opposite end of the spectrum: a deeply considered work on Sherlock Holmes that one has to admire for all the effort that went into it.

With at least five books currently existing on Holmes's methods, How To Instantly Size-Up Strangers Like Sherlock Holmes is a worthwhile addition to the subject and a must-have for any Sherlockian with a special interest in that area, and one you'll want to have around for reference.  Definitely recommended.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad you were able to tie in your love of 'Elementary' in with this review.