The book is a collection of twelve previously published articles for such well-respected magazines as The New Yorker and The Atlantic. There are twelve pieces in 'The Devil and Sherlock Holmes.' Mr. Grann's stories are fascinating and educational. No one can say the guy doesn't get his hands dirty while investigating. He ventures out as a passenger in a dinky boat during a storm, travels six-hundred feet underground into New York City's water system, and travels to New Zealand, France, Poland, and various places in the U.S. to interview people or research material. The book is divided into three sections. All the stories show the quirkier sides of the human condition but the third section's four reports are truly disturbing.
'The Devil and Sherlock Holmes' includes articles about a man's obsession with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes; a Texas man who was executed despite being very likely innocent; a French con man would was a serial child impersonator; the only surviving firefighter of a station's crew during 9/11 but can't remember any of it; searching for the elusive giant squid; building New York City's underground water tunnels; a lifelong bank robber who was still at it when he was 78 years old; baseball's Ricky Henderson playing way beyond his prime in hopes of getting back into the major leagues; a deadly nationwide prison gang; the Ohio mob takes over a down-on-its-luck steel town; an author/murderer in Poland; and the Haitian ex-dictator/ mass murderer Toto Constant who is living in New York City. All the stories are engrossing. The book was published in 2010 and the articles were originally published from 2000 through 2009.
This is my type of book. I learned plenty of stuff from each article. Despite some of the first eight stories involving death, they were not gloomy works. Even the 78-year-old bank robber story had me smiling while reading it. Each piece is solid reporting and educational. The one I found the most disturbing was the prison gang called Aryan Brotherhood. If parents want to scare their kids into avoiding a life of crime and ending up in prison, then baby, that story oughta do it.