Book Review: The Whole Art of Detection by Lyndsay Faye

Happily, however, a new scientific treatise upon the art of detection will shortly make its way into the world, the quality of which I hope will balance out the endless stream of sentimentality flowing from the pens of loosely factual biographers and adventure authors alike.

In the authentic style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself, Lyndsay Faye delivers a collection of short stories featuring the iconic pair of Holmes and Watson. Her revival of the voices of this dynamic crime duo is entertaining and the bite-sized length of each adventure provide frequent satisfaction throughout the book. The story follows a timeline from the pre-Baker Street on through to the late life of Sherlock Holmes and the personalities of each character and their relationship to each other are explored, providing access to those even the least familiar with the original stories.
It has long been a dictum of my internationally celebrated friend Sherlock Holmes that work is the best antidote to sorrow. As his biographer, therefore, I have been given occasion to wonder whether the almost superhuman effort he himself expends over his cases is relevant to this credo.When at work, he is an indefatigable automaton: dashing hither and thither consulting all relevant parties, weighing the value of data to hand provided by the police, and more often discovering clues everyone else has overlooked. When idle, however, he is a listless creature, hollow-eyed to a degree which ever causes me the deepest sympathetic consternation.
Faye does an exceptional job writing as Doyle writing as Waston writing about Holmes and we are still able to fully understand the complexity of Waston’s and Holmes’ character throughout their entire career together.
My earliest relations with Mr. Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street were rendered much the more intriguing due to the fact that I spent an inordinate amount of time— or more than I believe to be usual with fellow lodgers, for I know of no other men who reside with independent consulting detectives— deciphering which aspects of his peculiar character were innate and which adopted due to his singular choice of profession. As with every individual, some of his tastes must have been bred from the cradle, while others surely were cultivated to grant him greater chance of success in his field.
It is easy to forget that the crimes to be solved were not penned, in their entirety, by Doyle himself. Faye is a well studied Sherlockian and exceeds at her undertaking. Holmes and Waston have risen again in The Whole Art of Detection.
Read voraciously.
A review copy of this title was provided by Grove Atlantic’s Mysterious Press via Netgalley.

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