Saturday, January 17, 2015

Becoming Sherlock Holmes x 5.

A long, long time ago, I wrote a book.

I was in my late twenties, and I wrote the book because I wanted to read that particular book, and said book did not exist prior to 1987, when my book finally saw publication. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who saw that gap, as the book made it on to John Bennett Shaw's list of the one hundred books he would place in a basic Sherlockian library, and I'm pretty sure it was the deciding factor in getting me into the Baker Street Irregulars at a much younger age than most of my friends.

All of the above might seem like bragging, but at this point, like many a thing from the past, my book . . . now not the easiest thing to find . . . seems pretty much obsolete. And in a way, I'm kind of happy about that, because I only wanted such a book to exist for me to read to begin with. And now I have five: Five books on Sherlock Holmes's methods an how to use them.

So here's the list:

The Elementary Methods of Sherlock Holmes by Brad Keefauver, 1987.  (Boy, is that title ironic now.)

The Sherlock Holmes Handbook by Ransom Riggs, 2009. (Already praised by me here.)

How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Daniel Smith, 2012. (A slim volume recently picked up off the remainder table at Barnes & Noble.)

Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova, 2013. (The best-publicized on the list, yet I never finished reading it, sad to say. Have to get back to that.)

How To Instantly Size-Up Strangers Like Sherlock Holmes by Mark A. Williams, Sr., 2014. (Not just the latest, but also the largest on this list.)

Had we a time machine, I would love to pick up all of these authors just after they finished their respective books and make them compete in a series of Sherlock Holmes tests: observation and deductions about a stranger, solving a mystery, etc. It would make a wonderful reality show for our limited Sherlockian audience, to be sure. At this point, however, when we all have the opportunity to read each other's books, that experiment would not be as free of confounding variables as one would like. (Mark Williams, for example, actually quotes my book, so I know he's read it -- and at this point, every single human being who has read that rare tome is a happy thought to me. It's not a big club!)

My goal in the week or so ahead, is not just to review the latest of these books, but to do a little comparison-contrast of this little library of the Sherlockian method we now have available to us. (More or less -- I should definitely do something about making that first one more available. I'm so lazy, which isn't aided by the fact that my hero Sherlock described himself as "the most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather." But, hey, lazy people have to be smarter, just to find their maximum potential for not doing work!)

Let's see if I get there. If I don't, my next book will be entitled "How To Be Incurably Lazy Like Sherlock Holmes" . . .  and I think we can all succeed in attaining that set of skills.


  1. I have two of the books on your list - yours and Maria Konnikova's - though I'd read yours almost 30 years ago (!) Finding them (both) would be a task - as my filing system has been defiled! I once had a den - over the years, with more kids and the mother-in-law - my collection is all over the place! But I probably enjoyed it as I do your style of writing.

  2. What a hoot! I just looked up your book at Abe Books and people think they can get $50 - $200 for it! Yes please, a reprint would be lovely. I've always been good at noticing details, but it would be nice to know what to do with them.