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The Devil & Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession    by David Grann order for
Devil & Sherlock Holmes
by David Grann
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This collection of true stories investigates individuals whose fixations steered them into unfathomable and often deadly situations. As the author explains in the book's introduction, only one of these stories touches on the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and that piece actually is about the curious death of the world's foremost Holmes expert. In fact, Graham Moore recently authored a mystery novel about the man, entitled The Sherlockian.

The other eleven chapters delve into the stories of an eclectic range of personalities including a French con artist, Frederic Bourdin, who could change personalities as easily as most people change clothes. Unfortunately for the pathological liar, the cleverest con he was involved in was the one someone played on him.

You'll also meet a giant squid hunter Steven O'Shea, a marine biologist from New Zealand, and accompany sandhog Jimmy Ryan as he takes you on a tour of New York City's underground water tunnels.

In Crimetown, U.S.A., the author looks at Youngstown, Ohio, in a story he subtitles 'The City That Fell in Love With the Mob'; and then there's the very odd tale of obsession that centers on former baseball great Rickey Henderson.

After his productive years were over, The Hall of Famer, refusing to accept the ravages of age, joined the Golden Baseball League, which was considered to be the bottom of the bottom. Playing for less than $3,000 a month, Henderson joined the Surf Dawgs trying to recapture his former glory days.

'To steal a base, you need to think you're invincible,' Henderson told the author. Sadly, his stint with the Dawgs proved the former base stealing king wasn't!

Nine of the dozen stories that appear in this collection were originally published in The New Yorker. The other three were first printed in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, and The New York Times Magazine.

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