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The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes: The Illustrated Guide to the Famous Cases, Infamous Adversaries, and Ingenious Methods of the Great Detective Hardcover – April 22, 2008

10 customer reviews

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Hardcover, April 22, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bruce Wexler is also the author of The Wild, Wild West of Louis L’Amour and The Authentic South of Gone with Wind. Through meticulous study, he has gained an intimate cultural knowledge of the Victorian crime scene and early forensic and logical methods of detection. Applying this information to his great interest in the Sherlock Holmes stories, Wexler offers new insight into the life and times of the definitive detective. He lives in London.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press (April 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762432527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762432523
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,525,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jared N. Criswell on May 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though Wexler's very visual book does not explain every detail from Holmes' cases, it definitely makes a good companion to them. Upon ordering the book I assumed the pictures would be small and/or sparse throughout. I was very mistaken, as the book is littered with large, full color pictures and illustrations. Some of Paget's illustrations from the original mysteries are included in very striking full color, as well as actual photographs and pictures from Holme's time. Additionally, I was impressed by a section devoted to Holmes' personal items such as his deerstalker hat, pipe, and magnifying glass. The book would be excellent for a Holmes devotee or a beginning reader of the stories.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Laura E. Goodin on November 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While the book is enjoyable in a light sort of way, the constant parade of typos, factual errors, sweeping generalizations, and clumsily written sentences offer a cringe on virtually every page. Example: writer Georges Simenon is referred to several times as "Simeon." Another example: Doyle's daughter Mary is referred to in one sentence by her correct name, but later in the paragraph as "May." And it is entirely untrue that Doyle's historical fiction has "substantially withered away from disregard" (p.7).

That having been said, the illustrations are lavish and entertaining, and if you have the fortitude and charity to overlook the atrocious writing and editing, you can find a diverting few hours here.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jory on December 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've heard that this book is being sold in the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London, which makes me want to cry. What could have been a terrific general purpose introductory book to Holmes for newcomers was apparently thrown together as fast as humanly possible to make a quick buck.

The content is admirably diverse -- ranging from biographical material on Arthur Conan Doyle to the police investigation methods used in his time to the various Holmes film adaptations -- and the book is beautiful to look at, with glossy paper and lavish color photographs on every page. But the mistakes just ruin it. The other reviewers are not exaggerating with their complaints. In fact, they're understating the problem. The mistakes are so profuse that they jump out on every page, as if competing for the reader's attention. If they were limited to misspellings, I wouldn't be so annoyed, but an amazing lack of research is showing here.

How egregious are the errors? At one point the author refers to the 1962 film "Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace" as the first Holmes film in color. This is amusing (or infuriating, take your pick), not only because the 1959 version of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" was the first color Holmes film, but "Deadly Necklace" is in black and white! Later, the 2002 version of "Hound" is referred to as "probably" the latest film version of this story. Probably? The author couldn't have visited the Internet Movie Database to confirm this? Not even the pictures are free of mistakes; one of them features the large watermark of the website from which it was stolen. Couldn't the author have spent 15 more seconds on Google Images to find a better photo to steal?

How many times does the author refer to the 1800s as the 18th century?
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. King on May 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lavishly illustrated, The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes is a companion guide to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Great Detective.

The book includes a biography of Conan Doyle, a history of Sherlock Holmes in print as well as on stage and screen, and an examination of the Holmes phenomenon today. Wexler also briefly touches on Sherlock Holmes' role in the evolution of crime fiction, the class structure of Victorian society, Victorian medicine and Holmes' use of forensic investigative techniques.

Over 150 illustrations are beautifully presented throughout the book. Many of Sidney Padget's iconic images are reproduced as full or half-page illustrations. There are many photographs of Victorian London and weapons that were common to the era. The section picturing some of Holmes' key possessions (such as his deerstalker hat, magnifying glass, pipe, Persian slipper, and violin) was especially interesting to me. When I first read through the Sherlock Holmes stories as a teenager, I had no idea what a Persian slipper looked like. I would have had no such trouble envisioning Holmes' quirky method of tobacco storage if this book had been available then.

While the illustrations shine, the text -- unfortunately -- does not. While I am by no means a Sherlock Holmes scholar, I picked up on several factual and typographical errors throughout the book. Mary Morstan, a prominent character in The Sign of Four, is referred to as "Mary Morstam", several quotations from Doyle's work are incorrect, and more than once, the word "to" is used where "too" is actually the correct form. Better editing would have served this volume well. Wexler also asserts that Doyle's non-Holmes works have "withered away from disregard.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By demerson19 on June 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I've seen plenty of Holmes books over the years, but I found this one better than most for giving me a feel for time in which Holmes "lived." Wexler does a good job of describing the growing populace of London and the challenges that brought, giving a history of the metropolitan police, and has plenty of photos showing places, people, and even weapons of the day. The section on Holmes on screen is cursory, and not much can be added to Doyle's biography compared to what has been done, but overall any Holmes fan should like having this book around. New Holmes fans will benefit from the general overview as well.
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