Review of “The Whole Art of Detection” by Lyndsay Faye

I have never especially been a fan of Sherlock Holmes, but I like Lyndsay Faye’s writing enough to want to read whatever she produces.


The author has apparently been writing these tales for a while about the characters of Sherlock Holmes and his collaborator and biographer John Watson, and they are collected in this volume along with two new stories. They illustrate a point Holmes makes to Watson when discussing a case:

“There are precious few crimes in this world, merely a hundred million variations upon a dozen or so themes.”

Most of the stories are told from the point of view of Dr. Watson, although a few appear as excerpts from Sherlock Holmes’ diary.

Throughout the book we get a growing sense of the skill of Sherlock Holmes and his amazing powers of observation and deduction. We also get increasing evidence of the the devotion each man has for the other. In fact, I thought the continuing unfolding of their relationship makes a better story than the recounting of crimes and how they got solved. I also enjoyed the difference between the ways in which Watson and Holmes thought about women. Watson tends to wax rhapsodic about them, while Holmes avers:

“I would as soon permanently tether myself to a wardrobe as a female…”

Faye is very adept at conjuring up the atmosphere and syntax of the times, and her turns of phrase are often breathtakingly adept, such as with this musing by Dr. Watson:

“The sea of melancholy in which I was floating had soaked me to the bone.”

Evaluation: This volume is bound to please fans of Sherlock Holmes. Lyndsay Faye is an excellent writer.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Grove Atlantic Press, 2017


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3 Responses to Review of “The Whole Art of Detection” by Lyndsay Faye

  1. I’m about a quarter of the way through this one. Her ability to write in the style of the original Sherlock is uncanny!

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    I’ll have to get this for my mom – she’s a huge Sherlock Holmes fan.

  3. Rachel says:

    I’ve never read any Sherlock Homles but I love the quotes you chose for this review.

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