Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Slight Trick of the Mind, by Mitch Cullin

A Slight Trick of the Mind, by Mitch Cullin

Sherlock Holmes is a character that has captivated the world and authors continue to craft tales about his exploits 120 years after his introduction. Sadly, Cullin decided to join the ranks of Holmesian writers; A Slight Trick of the Mind is a truly terrible effort. Holmes is 93 here, and long since retired. He is still healthy enough to travel to Japan, where he finds his host wants information about someone from Holmes’ past; Holmes doesn’t remember this man, but lies to make his host feel better. Lying to obtain information is something that fits with Holmes’ character, but to do so simply comfort a stranger seemed at odds with the myth. Cullin also sees fit to replace Irene Adler as “the woman” in Holmes’ life with a beauty that has no apparent intellectual depth. These jarring departures from the accepted mythology are I suppose intended to make us look at the famous detective from another angle, but instead simply rang false.

It is unfortunate that the main character is the famous Sherlock Holmes, actually. The story is well-written and the depiction of a mentally sharp mind that is losing touch with his surroundings is both honest and heartbreaking. Familial bonds are also examined from various viewpoints in a fairly significant fashion. If the protagonist was anyone but Holmes, my opinion would have been very different; the fact remains that this is a Sherlock Holmes mystery, however, and that caused the entire premise to suffer greatly.

First Sentence:
Upon arriving from his travels abroad, he entered his stone-built farmhouse on a summer’s afternoon, leaving the luggage by the front door for his housekeeper to manage.

1 comment:

Joanne Faber said...

Too bad you felt this away about what is a truly remarkable book, and very much in line wit Doyle's Canon. Even Leslie Klinger, the foremost American authority on Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories gave the book a rave review. It's a fantastic look at Holmes, but not for some people, I guess.

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