116. The Devil and Sherlock Holmes (David Grann)

Friday, March 11, 2011
The other day I finished The Devil and Sherlock Holmes by David Grann, a collection of essays he's written for various publications.  I had picked it up at the bookstore and was excited to read the most recent offering from the author of The Lost City of Z, a book I highly recommend for fans of action and adventure nonfiction stories.  The summary on Grann's website really grabbed my attention as well:

Whether he’s reporting on the infiltration of the murderous Aryan Brotherhood into the U.S. prison system, tracking down a chameleon con artist in Europe, or riding in a cyclone-tossed skiff with a scientist hunting the elusive giant squid, David Grann revels in telling stories that explore the nature of obsession and that peel back hidden, often dangerous realms. This breathtaking collection includes stories about the foremost expert on Sherlock Holmes who is found dead in mysterious circumstances, about an arson sleuth trying to prove that a man about to be executed is innocent, and about sandhogs racing to complete the brutally dangerous job of building New York City’s water tunnels before the old system collapses.

Cha-ching.  Out came the credit card.  I dived right in and was enthralled by the first tale, the mysterious death of the Sherlock Holmes expert. However, as I made my way through the collection, I found that the stories were, for me, hit or miss.  Giant squid hunters?  Wicked.  Ricky Henderson still playing baseball and trying to make his way back to the majors?  Yawn.  I guess it has a little something for everyone and the joy of reading a collection of essays (or short stories) allows you to experience a variety of literary offerings and if you're not completely thrilled with what you're reading, you can stop and move onto the next without feeling like you've wasted your money. 

I'm glad that I read The Lost City of Z first.  While I didn't hate The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, it certainly wouldn't have made me want to pick up another of Grann's books.  Pick it up or leave it, the choice is yours.  No recommendation from me on this one, good or bad.  However, I definately recommend Grann's first book and think you should read it before its turned into a movie starring Brad Pitt.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

You're right, collections can be hit and miss, hopefully more hit than miss.

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