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A Slight Trick of the Mind Hardcover – 29 May 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (29 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782113304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782113300
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.7 x 22 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Beautiful . . . It's what a novel should be" (Washington Post)

"A wise and touching examination of the human condition" (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

"Cullin is an unusually sophisticated theorist of human nature . . . Beautiful" (New York Times Book Review)

"Wonderfully written and heartbreaking" (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Quite extraordinary . . . Our hero-our eternal hero-has never been more heroic, or more human" (Village Voice)

"This is literary crime fiction at its best" (Good Housekeeping)

"Extremely touching" (Independent)

"Original and surprising" (Sunday Times)

"A meandering, unobtrusively mystical meditation on the oddities of human nature" (Weekly Telegraph)

"A curious, unusual and wonderful novel...this is an essential and truly fascinating read" (Scotsman)

Book Description

A devastating literary novel about Sherlock Holmes, soon to be a major film

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 17 Jun. 2005
Format: Hardcover
In this fascinating portrait, Sherlock Holmes, now ninety-three, deals with the indignities of old age and the forgetfulness which accompanies it. It is now 1947, and Dr. Watson has been dead for many years. Holmes lives in a small country house in rural Sussex with a housekeeper and her 14-year-old son, spending much of his day tending to his bees and working on his writing. Frail and reliant upon two canes to get around, Holmes is dedicated to the pursuit of longevity and believes that the royal jelly from his hives is a key ingredient.

Holmes has just returned from postwar Japan, where he has been seeking information about the prickly ash plant and its life-giving properties. His host there, the son of a diplomat who disappeared when World War II broke out, tells Holmes that his father once met with him in England, but Holmes no longer remembers the man. As he reminisces about his trip, he wants to help the man come to terms with his father's mysterious abandonment.

These two settings, one in rural Sussex and one in Japan, in 1947, alternate with "The Case of the Glass Armonicist," an uncompleted story about one of Holmes's cases from 1902, which Holmes hopes to finish before he forgets the details. The story concerns a young man whose wife keeps disappearing following her lessons on the glass armonica (sometimes called the "glass harmonica"). Holmes follows the woman, often donning a disguise to get closer to her. In formal Victorian language, Holmes tells a story reminiscent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in style.

Cullin has created a plausible psychological profile for Holmes, who, to the best of anyone's knowledge, has never been in love and has never allowed his emotions to govern his life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Arthur John on 8 July 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Review of Mr Holmes (Kindle version)
Before reading the book I saw the film version, soon to appear as a DVD. I thought that the film had an inspired, 'five star', narrative, worthy of Conan Doyle at his best. Sherlock Holmes had decided to write his own account of one of his cases, free of the biases and exaggerations introduced by Dr Watson. Holmes had chosen his last case. Although he easily unravelled the case, he felt he had grossly mishandled it by being too timid to act in accord with his deepest feelings, perhaps through concentrating too much on logical reasoning. This was why he retired from detective work to live in the country and busy himself with bees. He was now in his 90s and struggling with a failing memory and declining mobility. The writing of the case was hampered by difficulty in remembering the details, however he was inspired to remember the story by the interest and research of Roger, the young son of his housekeeper. Roger had also developed an interest in the bees.
Early in the film Holmes visits Japan with parts of the countryside still ravaged by the effects of the nuclear bombs.. Holmes is hunting for prickly ash reputed to restore failing memory. His Japanese host connects Sherlock Homes with meeting his father who had never returned to his family after the meeting. Holmes has no memory of this meeting, at least initially.
Late in the story Roger has a major accident. In the film Holmes does all the right things, except for initial indifference in his treatment of Roger's mother, and the outcome is good. In the book the outcome is disastrous and Homes does not handle the situation well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mandynolan TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Jan. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sherlock Holmes is old and beginning to be forgetful.....he lives in Sussex tending his bees....his world has shrunk.....he goes on a visit to Japan....a mysterious almost dreamlike place that awakens thoughts of the past and also highlights his fragility...
There are some good aspects to this tale but it did not keep me enthralled or particularly entertained.....it is not really a mystery in the normal sense more of a journey of emotion for Holmes....a look at the mystery of life perhaps...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although an interesting idea, it's hard to see why the story centres around Sherlock Holmes, since the main themes - ageing, approaching senility and beekeeping - have little connection with the great detective. Since much of the narrative is either directly in Holmes's words or from his point of view, it is a shame that so many Americanisms find their way into a very British character's words or thoughts. I cannot see Holmes ever using 'gotten' or 'ruckus' or referring to a walking stick as a 'cane'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. G. A. Alavi on 24 July 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On the cover it says this is Sherlock Holmes as you have never seen him before, to me this was the Sherlock Holmes I never wanted to see. I have no idea about the movie I know Ian McKellen is a great actor but with this as the source material I do not actually even want to see the movie. This book is the equivalent of watching the slow derogation of a loved one. There is almost none of the Sherlock Holmes character left. His friends and companions have all moved or passed on. Even his most defining characteristic his mental facilities are failing him his short term memory has degraded, this long term memory is spotty at best. This is not a story of the great detective going for one last hooray, the story of a one famous and revered man, who is now a 93 years, isolated bee keeper.

The book is set in three time events. The Holmes in his house in Sussex, just returning from a trip from Japan, his trip to Japan, and the journal of one of his final cases. I think the author though oh yeah I am writing a Sherlock Holmes story let me put in an old case. This case was pointless and boring, and unimaginative. I could have put this book down at any point and never thought about it again. Some people might be able to see the beauty in an isolated old man Holmes has become, I don't. Also just when you think that is enough tragedy for one book no there is more. This is one of the times I would say if you must watch the movie I really do not like this book and would not recommend it to anyone.
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