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Wednesday, January 6, 2016
The Book Under My Christmas Tree
In honor of Sherlock Holmes's birthday today, I'll tell you about a book I received for Christmas.
The Sherlock Holmes Handbook: The Methods and Mysteries of the World's Greatest Detective by Ransom Riggs isn't exactly what it sounds like, but it's a worthy addition to your library nonetheless.
Perhaps a better title would be A Sherlock Holmes How-To Handbook. The book is made up mostly of how-to chapters, some quite surprising, with lessons largely (though not exclusively) drawn from the Canon.
Part I, "Detective Skills," contains chapters with about what we would expect: "How to Use Analytical Reasoning," "How to Question a Suspect," "How to Decode Ciphers," "How to Examine a Body at a Crime Scene," and even "How to Locate a Secret Chamber," among other topics.
Parts II and III, "Survival Skills" and "Life Skills" are where the fun really begins. Here we find such helpful advice as "How to Outwit a Criminal Mastermind," "How to Survive a Plunge Over a Waterfall," "How to Disguise Yourself," ""How to Stage a Dramatic Entrance," "How to Sniff Out a Hoax," "How to Raise Bees," and more.
On all of the aforementioned topics, I will readily concede Sherlock Holmes to be an expert. But would you really want his advice on "How to Manage Children" and "How to Handle Women?" I think not! And yet, Riggs goes there.
In between the "how to" chapters, Riggs provides sidebars on a number of interesting topics. My favorites were the creatures of the Canon (which proclaims the Hound of the Baskerville to be the least deadly!), the crimes of Sherlock Holmes, curious maladies and quack medicines of the Victorian Era, Victorian Fashion, secret societies and the criminal underworld, and opium dens and narcotics in the Victorian Era.
All in all, this rather misnamed book is a quick but delightful read.
Do not confuse it, however, with Christopher Redmond's Sherlock Holmes Handbook, a fine volume more suited the title. We will visit that one some other day.
Posted by Doctor Dan at 12:00 AM