Jonny’s Literature Spotlight

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The Devil and Sherlock Holmes by David Grann is comprised of 12 investigations into niche, dangerous, and unobserved human worlds. Mr. Grann is a journalist, and the stories he tells are recounts of previous research. The book itself is told in an odd sort of first-person perspective; while Mr. Grann tends to focus more on the retelling of events as they happened, he often interjects with a comment regarding a conversation or interview he conducted, bringing himself into the story for context where necessary. This is especially prevalent in the stories for which Mr. Grann witnessed first-hand the events which occurred – in many stories, the focus is on a single event, which has already occurred and is reported on afterward. In these, Mr. Grann takes the reader on a tour of the events as they presented themselves in real life. This means that the reader experiences discoveries as they were uncovered by private investigators, lawyers, and detectives, letting the reader come to their own conclusions as new evidence in either direction emerges. In others, the story is ongoing and is often unrelated to the essence of the work of Sir Conan Doyle in his stories of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the namesake of this book. One story tells of the work of biologists hunting for giant squid – a premise which has little to do with the human condition or classical detective work as presented in Sherlock Holmes. Regardless of the topic, however, the stories are gripping and immersing – Mr. Grann does a wonderful job of engaging the reader with both minutia and mystique. I found myself learning a lot about the worlds in each story – whether it be prison gangs, squid hunting, impersonation, or any other topic, Mr. Grann details an immersive and thoughtful account of the hidden worlds within it, leaving any reader with a much more worldly perspective.

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