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A Slight Trick of the Mind

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  • Posted November 23, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Not your typical Sherlock Holmes story

    If you bought this book with the expectation of reading about a "new" Sherlock Holmes mystery, think again. Despite the fact that the novel contains a story purportedly written by the Great Detective, I believe you'll be disappointed. The only mystery Holmes encounters in this well-written book is the greatest one of all - life, and its approaching termination. <BR/><BR/>The year is 1947. Holmes is ninety-three years old. Watson, Mrs Hudson, and his brother Mycroft have long since shuffled off this mortal coil, and also, so it seems, has a great deal of Holmes vaunted intellect. He is not senile by any means. On the other hand, he is suffering the same maladies borne by a great number of people who reach his age - for example, it's easier for him to recall things that happened forty years ago than events that took place four days ago. <BR/><BR/>Mitch Cullin takes this basic concept and gives us an idea of what Holmes might have been like at this age, and does so beautifully. As one might expect, Holmes at ninety-three is irascible and impatient, but he has also surprisingly mellowed. He has much more patience with others than is mentioned by Watson in Conan Doyle's original tales. <BR/><BR/>There is also something of a plot, but you need to remember that there is no mystery, scandal, or intrigue involved. The story deals basically with a trip made by Holmes to Japan after the end of World War II, and the relationship he develops with the man who invited him there; and the relationship he has with the son of his new housekeeper - something I am sure the Holmes of Conan Doyle's stories would have emphatically disdained. <BR/><BR/>Since Cullin has implied that Holmes basically retired from the trade of a consulting detective after moving to his Sussex cottage (with the obvious exception of the story related in "His Last Bow"), one wonders what his life would have been like between that relocation and the time of the current tale. I for one would like to know.

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