The Whole Art of Detection: A Personal Book Review
Lyndsay Faye is my friend.
I’m leading with that because I can’t think of anything more disingenuous than proceeding as if an early-release copy of The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes somehow magically appeared on my doorstep, independent of all personal context, then reviewing it as if I was reviewing the work of a stranger.
In fact, I first met Lyndsay through a publicity photo for Dust and Shadow, the masterful, novel-length Holmes pastiche that catapulted her into not only Sherlockian history, but into mainstream literary success. In her picture, she was beautiful; she was fierce; she seemed to walk on some sort of higher Sherlockian plane of existence. This was during the early days of the Baker Street Babes, and I was a recent recruit–new to podcasting and new to the world of Sherlock Holmes fandom. Lyndsay was someone we were dying to interview, and to our surprise, she not only agreed to come on the podcast, but she invited our then-NYC-based members to her home, to do the interview in person–and to bake cookies to boot.
Five years on, I know the real Lyndsay, and she’s even better than the smiling goddess in the picture. She’s just as magical as I thought, but it’s because she has the rare qualities that make someone a fantastic friend and a wonderful Sherlockian: She’s clever, she’s kind, and she’s generous beyond belief. She’s a standup lady, and she stands for women everywhere, particularly in the Holmesian community.
However, and it’s a huge however, I’m not recommending The Whole Art of Detection because Lyndsay is my friend; I’m recommending it because it’s an excellent book. A dazzling array of famous people–of the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Nicholas Meyer, Les Klinger, and a host of others–have already praised this new collection of fifteen of Lyndsay’s Sherlock Holmes pastiches, and with good reason. Her writing style hardly needs my endorsement–she’s currently an Edgar Awards nominee for her novel Jane Steele, and she’s received a plethora of deserved praise for the aforementioned Dust and Shadow, as well as her addictive Timothy Wilde series.
The Whole Art of Detection is something new; for the first time, Lyndsay’s best short story pastiches have been brought together in a single volume that contains two entirely new stories. Unless you’ve kept up with every single one of her contributions to the Strand Magazine, many more of the stories (perhaps all) will be new to you. The book reads like a delightful Sherlockian confection, chock full of every kind of Doylean delight.
If you’ve never read Lyndsay’s work before, you’ll be treated to a masterful take on Watson’s voice and a layered, immersive experience of the world of Holmes and Watson through the pre- and post-hiatus years of their partnership. The plots are devilishly clever, but they never overshadow the deep emotional resonance of the friendship between detective and doctor.
If you’re a fan of Lyndsay’s novel-length works, you’ll be delighted to find that she’s equally adept at the short story format. Often, success or failure in Holmesian pastiche hinges on the tiniest things, a turn of phrase here and a word choice there. Lyndsay’s witty tales capture the elusive essence of what makes Sherlockian short stories fly. Tough to quantify, you’ll know it when you read it, and you’ll be thrilled.
I’m going to make a bold claim: Once you’ve read The Whole Art of Detection, you’ll understand Holmes, Watson, and their world in a deeper, richer, and more complex way. Believe me, you won’t regret joining Lyndsay for the journey.
The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes is available for preorder on Amazon
A copy of the above-referenced work was provided for consideration by the author. All raves, compliments, and recommendations are the reviewer’s own.
Amy Thomas is a book reviewer, freelance essayist, and author of The Detective and The Woman mystery novel series featuring Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, published by MX Publishing. She holds a degree in professional communication and is an avid knitter, geek, and grammar nerd. Amy blogs about Sherlock Holmes at Girlmeetssherlock.wordpress.