Sherlock Holmes’ Little Book of Wisdom

Cartoonist Glenn Dakin has turned his skills to an illustrated set of short, inspirational essays in Sherlock Holmes’ Little Book of Wisdom: How to Deduce What on Earth Is Going On.

He aims to show the reader how to apply the detective’s skills to everyday life, with chapters on the topics of observation, deduction, fisticuffs, setting a trap, and others. As Dakin explains in his introduction:

“Instead of being dazzled by Sherlock’s genius, as others are, we have taken a good look at the limited range of skills he considered important, sorted them into helpful areas, and deduced some wisdom that can be applied to your life.

“For example, Holmes is a master of disguise. But this book won’t tell you how to successfully portray a drunken groom or an old Italian priest. It will, however, look at how disguise is used in everyday life, online and in the media, to confuse and deceive you.”

The inky, scratchy caricatures are appealing, capturing Holmes’ unique blend of awareness, presence, and grumpiness. There’s a dark humor to some of them that suits the general air of knowing cynicism in the advice and examples.

Sherlock Holmes' Little Book of Wisdom cover

There are a number of quotes from Holmes and other characters, used by Dakin as a jumping-off point for advice and observations. He reinforces the importance of detail, of carefully curating your knowledge to be useful, thinking through the strategy of fighting, techniques to gain information, and the importance of friendship.

In between, he draws life lessons from specific stories, including The Hound of the Baskervilles, “The Blue Carbuncle,” “The Red-Headed League,” and “The Man With the Twisted Lip.” Some of the points he aims for can seem a bit of a stretch, but at least his suggestions are thought-provoking.

This small, slim hardcover is aimed at the gift market. It can be difficult to find new things for the Sherlockian in your life; this would make a good choice.

(The publisher supplied a digital review copy. Review originally appeared at the website belonging to I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, the premier Sherlock Holmes podcast.)

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