Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Book Report: The Real Sherlock


More of a brief podcast than a full-figured audiobook, "The Real Sherlock" is a smattering of interviews and historical factoids about Arthur Conan Doyle, an enigmatic figure who seemed to resent his franchise's popularity, tried and failed to become a politician and spent much of his later life crusading for spirtualism.

The story also delves into his early years, as a medical student, doctor and soldier. A renaissance man who juggled several interests and pursued passions with the vigor and agility -- and often, the gullability -- of a child, Conan Doyle emerges as the polar opposite of Holmes. It's as though he created the grounded, logic-driven detective to complete his own psychological deficiencies.

The Audible book would have benefited from broader sourcing. Many of the interviews focus on worshipful family members and actors who have played Conan Doyle and Watson. Some impartial observations would have helped ground the piece. Author Lucinda Hawksley does deserve credit, at least, for including some of Conan Doyle's embarrassing escapades, such as the time in which he defiantly defended the veracity of the Cottingley Fairies, which were crudely faked supernatural photos that were later debunked.

Despite the silliness of some of his more outrageous beliefs, a measure of respect emerges for Conan Doyle's magical thinking and acting. He was a creator and a storyteller, given to whimsy and impulse. The world was better off for his presence.

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