The His­tory of De­duc­tion

India Today - - LEISURE - —Farah Yameen

In this book, a treat for Sher­lock Holmes nerds, au­thor Michael Sims delves deeply into ev­ery clue from Arthur Co­nan Doyle’s life, search­ing for what led to the cre­ation of the world’s most fa­mous fic­tional de­tec­tive.

The book be­gins as a novel, set in Doyle’s un­re­mark­able Portsmouth res­i­dence, but soon enough set­tles into the style of a bi­og­ra­phy. We learn of Doyle’s child­hood: of his tal­ented but al­co­holic fa­ther, of his grey-eyed mother who con­verted their family res­i­dence into a board­ing house to make ends meet, and their love for the poet Oliver Wen­dell Holmes. But it’s Joseph Bell, Doyle’s teacher at Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity—a re­mark­able di­ag­nos­ti­cian who can tell a pa­tient’s ill­ness, trade and his­tory sim­ply by look­ing at them—who turns out to be the model for the bril­liant de­tec­tive.

Some­what to the book’s detri­ment how­ever, as it traces Doyle’s ca­reer from the pub­li­ca­tion of the first Sher­lock novel (A Study in Scar­let) to his renown as one of Eng­land’s most beloved au­thors, we hear less about Doyle’s per­sonal life and more about the pub­lish­ing world of the late 1900s.

While see­ing what’s be­hind the cur­tain may dis­pel Holmes’ mys­tique some­what, this is a fas­ci­nat­ing ad­di­tion to the col­lec­tion—es­pe­cially for geeky know-it-alls who flaunt the com­plete works of Arthur Co­nan Doyle.

Arthur & Sher­lock: Co­nan Doyle and the Cre­ation of Holmes by Michael Sims Pub­lished by Blooms­bury USA Pages: 256; Price: Rs 374

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