It's 1947, and the long-retired Holmes lives in a remote Sussex farmhouse with a housekeeper and her young son, Roger. Holmes has recently returned from war-torn Japan and settled into the routine of tending his apiary, writing in his journals, and grappling with the waning powers of his once razor-sharp mind. Then Roger secretly searches Holmes' private study and uncovers the case of Mrs. Keller, the long-ago object of the legendary sleuth's deep, and never acknowledged, infatuation.
As Cullin weaves together Holmes' hidden past, his poignant struggle to retain mental acuity, and his unlikely relationship with Roger, who stirs his paternal affection, a mythic figure is transformed into an ordinary man. At once an engrossing mystery and a gripping character study, A Slight Trick of the Mind is an affecting and original portrait of literature's most beloved detective in the twilight of his illustrious life.
©2005 Mitch Cullin; (P)2005 HighBridge Company
"An ambitious, beautifully written novel....This look at Holmes near his natural death is a delight and a deeply satisfying read." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is a lovely, tenderhearted book, full of reserve, good manners, elegance of feeling. It's what a novel should be. You don't read it to be "improved", but for the plain joy of seeing what the language can do in the hands of an affectionate, very accomplished writer." (The Washington Post)
"Under Cullin's sure hand, the vibrant, assured detective we know gives way to a man who looks back with regret at missed opportunities in a manner that makes the larger-than-life figure surprisingly human." (Booklist)
This is the first time I've tried to write a review, so bear with me. I liked Slight Trick of the Mind. It was a nice listen. Well read and written. I will listen to it again sometime. There is a mystery to solve and some insight into Sherlock's life as an older man.
I was very much looking forward to listening to this book, having been a Holmes fan from a young age, both through the books and various films and BBC productions. Although read beautifully by the narrator, who does an excellent job of performing the different voices, I was very disappointed that the focus of the story centered primarily around the post-WWII history and culture of Japan and a male lead Japanese character. There is a brief flashback on a case that Holmes had sleuthed in the past, but this gets lost with the Japanese focus of the story. If you want a true Holmesian mystery set in Englad, I'd suggest you skip this recording and choose from the originals written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book though if you are looking for a Sherlock Holmes mystery this is not. This book is another type of mystery looking into the personal thoughts and feelings of a legendary literary character. The narrator was perfect and drew me into the book immediately. This once fearless and magnificent man is now near the end of his life but as the story unfolds you realize that what seemed to most of us to be an exciting and fulfilling life, actually had a lot of emptiness. It's an exploration of the humanity of the greatest and most memorable detective.
The Path Between the Seas to The Great Bridge ~ Kagan's Peloponnesian War to Gaddis' Cold One ~ Mornings on Horseback to a River of Doubt ~ Tom to Huck ~ Lennie to Charley ~ Cadfael to Cross ~ Rhyme to Reacher ~ Blomkvist and Salander to Wallander and Wallander ~ Moving Cheese or Eating Frogs ~ On the Road and Into Thin Air ~ The End of History to A Short History of Everything to ... well ... everything else.
Sherlock Holmes remains a literary and box office powerhouse. Or, at least, that's the only reasonable explanation for the success of this book.
On the other hand, Mitch Cullin's contribution to the Holmes canon is, sadly, forgettable.
Cullin offers us a novel in three parts -- three story lines set in two different periods of Holmes' life. Three new glimpses into the life of Sherlock Holmes could be treasures. But here, they're not. None of these stories is even especially interesting or exciting or engaging.
With Holmes, we expect a mystery to challenge and confound us. There really aren't any here.
With Holmes, we expect demonstrations of observation and deduction that cause us to marvel. Here, we don't find much at which to marvel.
With Holmes, we expect the tale to carry us away to his world as the original stories would: to his rooms on Baker Street or to Baskerville Hall or atop Reichenbach Falls. Here, the narrative has no power to take us anywhere. We remain firmly set in our own time and place and world.
But still, this is Holmes, so we can hope.
Surely Cullin will draw his story lines together and redeem his entire novel in an exciting denouement. How could we expect anything else for Conan Doyle's great detective?
But that never happens, either. Cullin allows each story to wander off on its own and gently fade away. There are no surprises. There are no mysteries solved. There are no exciting moments. There are no characters we will remember. There is no closure.
There is only a forgettable and unsatisfying novel that serves only to remind us that even great lives have dull moments.
Skip this one.
Oddly enough, this is one time I will say that the movie worked better, though I have my quibbles with that as well. The book is essentially three tales, but they never overlap enough thematically to make a satisfying conclusion. The audio is beautifully performed, however, and kept me listening. A lesser performance would have had me abandoning this book before the end.
This is a perfectly crommulent book, it's just not the book you probably think it is. If you are expecting a battle of wits between an aging Holmes and an evil archvillian, forget it. Although Holmes does solve a few minor mysteries, this book is about an imperfect though great aging man dealing with loss and regret.
A shambling mess of a novel, it misunderstands its main character (Sherlock Holmes) and the construction of a mystery story. There's almost no purpose to the novel: Holmes travels to Japan and doesn't have an adventure with the child of a former client, doesn't have an adventure with the accidental death of his housekeeper's son and recalls a case that wasn't an adventure. The actual writing itself is just plain bad: overblown and rambling.
At the end of the book I was left wondering why the author bothered telling this story at all.
And the character of Sherlock Holmes is entirely misrepresented. And I don't mean taking liberties with a well-established character like the Sherlock TV series. I mean this novel simply doesn't understand who Sherlock Holmes is or the nature of his character, even as a 90+ year old man.
The narration is adequate. Often the rhythm of the narration is at odds with the written word and the narrator doesn't seem familiar with the material.
Mitch Cullin, No. Simon Jones, Yes.
There was no intrigue, mystery or even interesting characters including Holmes himself.
The woman who played the Armonica.
Fall asleep several times.
The stories were simply narratives with little satisfaction at the end of their telling. It's a caricature of what the 1970's Holmes would have become.
Remove Holmes and retitle it, "Reflections of a dying old man" and it may be a better book, but the inclusion of Holmes leaves a reader/listener expecting something memorable and interesting.
The Author, Mitch Cullin has managed to strip nearly every enjoyable aspect of Holmes and left us with a rambling old imposter or character impersonator who thinks he was once Holmes.
I loved the way it studied, in a unique, new way, the main character - Sherlock Holmes.
His vocal pacing was very good.
The focused, yet imperfect mind, of an aging former detective.
A read for true Holmes fans, because they will appreciate the story without being disappointed that this is not a classic Holmseian mystery.
The premise of a Holmes getting senile is interesting. There are three stories and all of them are incomplete. That being so, I wonder why they were told in the first place. There are plenty of unanswered questions. Maybe this is to replicate Holmes' memory loss but, if so, why write this book. Mysteries need a conclusion and there isn't one here.
Bring something to conclusion - even Holmes' death in a relevant situation.
Some insight into memory loss, but not in this context.
When discussing all of his associates' deaths, it gets very depressing. Again, maybe realistic, but that's not what I read Sherlock Holmes for.
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