Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin

In A Slight Trick of the Mind, Mitch Cullin imagines the life of an aged Sherlock Holmes. He has lived through two world wars and seen most of his closest friends and family die. He is a man with no place in the world, and even the little place he has separated out for himself cannot hold back time.

This is not a crime story, but it deals with mysteries. These are not mysteries in the secret society sense of things revealed only to the cognoscenti. They are mysteries in the Christian sense of things that are beyond the understanding of man. The Holmes of this book is struggling with memory, death, war, abandonment, relationships, and grief. Even with diminished capacity, Holmes can tell how a boy died. What Holmes can’t grasp is how this boy he had come to love should die for no apparent reason while he has lived long after his place in the world faded away.

I have always thought that part of the appeal of Holmes was his humanity. Though he has a cool demeanor and focuses on reason, these things don’t motivate him. Beneath the surface is a passion for justice and a compassion for his fellow man. Cullin captures both of these sides of a very old Holmes who is struggling with mysteries that stump us all.

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Cullin, Mitch. A Slight Trick of the Mind. 2005. New York: Anchor, 2006.