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Le Diable et Sherlock Holmes (Feuilleton non fiction)

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Acclaimed New Yorker writer and author of the breakout debut bestseller The Lost City of Z, David Grann offers a collection of spellbinding narrative journalism. Whether he's reporting on the infiltration of the murderous Aryan Brotherhood into the U.S. prison system, tracking down a chameleon con artist in Europe, or riding in a cyclone-tossed skiff with a scientist huntin Acclaimed New Yorker writer and author of the breakout debut bestseller The Lost City of Z, David Grann offers a collection of spellbinding narrative journalism. Whether he's reporting on the infiltration of the murderous Aryan Brotherhood into the U.S. prison system, tracking down a chameleon con artist in Europe, or riding in a cyclone-tossed skiff with a scientist hunting the elusive giant squid, David Grann revels in telling stories that explore the nature of obsession and that piece together true and unforgettable mysteries. Each of the dozen stories in this collection reveals a hidden and often dangerous world and, like Into Thin Air and The Orchid Thief, pivots around the gravitational pull of obsession and the captivating personalities of those caught in its grip. There is the world's foremost expert on Sherlock Holmes who is found dead in mysterious circumstances; an arson sleuth trying to prove that a man about to be executed is innocent, and sandhogs racing to complete the brutally dangerous job of building New York City's water tunnels before the old system collapses. Throughout, Grann's hypnotic accounts display the power-and often the willful perversity-of the human spirit. Compulsively readable, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant mosaic of ambition, madness, passion, and folly.


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Acclaimed New Yorker writer and author of the breakout debut bestseller The Lost City of Z, David Grann offers a collection of spellbinding narrative journalism. Whether he's reporting on the infiltration of the murderous Aryan Brotherhood into the U.S. prison system, tracking down a chameleon con artist in Europe, or riding in a cyclone-tossed skiff with a scientist huntin Acclaimed New Yorker writer and author of the breakout debut bestseller The Lost City of Z, David Grann offers a collection of spellbinding narrative journalism. Whether he's reporting on the infiltration of the murderous Aryan Brotherhood into the U.S. prison system, tracking down a chameleon con artist in Europe, or riding in a cyclone-tossed skiff with a scientist hunting the elusive giant squid, David Grann revels in telling stories that explore the nature of obsession and that piece together true and unforgettable mysteries. Each of the dozen stories in this collection reveals a hidden and often dangerous world and, like Into Thin Air and The Orchid Thief, pivots around the gravitational pull of obsession and the captivating personalities of those caught in its grip. There is the world's foremost expert on Sherlock Holmes who is found dead in mysterious circumstances; an arson sleuth trying to prove that a man about to be executed is innocent, and sandhogs racing to complete the brutally dangerous job of building New York City's water tunnels before the old system collapses. Throughout, Grann's hypnotic accounts display the power-and often the willful perversity-of the human spirit. Compulsively readable, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant mosaic of ambition, madness, passion, and folly.

30 review for Le Diable et Sherlock Holmes (Feuilleton non fiction)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This is a marvelous collection of David Grann's reporting. The subtitle describes them as "tales of murder, madness and obsession," and that's as good a summary as any for the variety of pieces here. My favorite stories in this book were about the suspicious death of a Sherlock Holmes fan; the life of a Frenchman nicknamed "The Chameleon" who was a serial imposter; the ordeal of a firefighter who was trying to reconstruct what happened to him on 9/11; the hunt for giant squid; the rise of the pri This is a marvelous collection of David Grann's reporting. The subtitle describes them as "tales of murder, madness and obsession," and that's as good a summary as any for the variety of pieces here. My favorite stories in this book were about the suspicious death of a Sherlock Holmes fan; the life of a Frenchman nicknamed "The Chameleon" who was a serial imposter; the ordeal of a firefighter who was trying to reconstruct what happened to him on 9/11; the hunt for giant squid; the rise of the prison gang Aryan Brotherhood; the interview with a legendary bank robber; and the history behind a corrupt Congressman from Ohio and how the mafia ran his town. These articles were originally published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and other magazines, and they are engaging and insightful. I always appreciate it when a good writer is able to publish a collection of shorter pieces -- they're a great complement to their longer works. Highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    The Devil & Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness & Obsession is a collection of articles by journalist, David Grann, which have previously been published in newspapers and magazines. For me they varied in interest and in quality but basically the whole selection made up an entertaining book. I had an issue with the title which suggested more Sherlock Holmes than was delivered and I also felt that the stories had been gathered rather randomly and there was no cohesion, no theme. Maybe if Sher The Devil & Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness & Obsession is a collection of articles by journalist, David Grann, which have previously been published in newspapers and magazines. For me they varied in interest and in quality but basically the whole selection made up an entertaining book. I had an issue with the title which suggested more Sherlock Holmes than was delivered and I also felt that the stories had been gathered rather randomly and there was no cohesion, no theme. Maybe if Sherlock had been more involved more of the tales would have had conclusive endings. Still a very readable and interesting book and I am happy to have read it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a compilation of articles by the author from 2003-2009 previously published in upscale mags like the New Yorker & the Atlantic. There are some brief updates to most & links if you're curious as to the rest of the story. Grann has done in-depth coverage of a wide range of topics. Not all were to my taste, but I believe his reporting was well done, although not always well balanced. Still, I highly recommend it. Very well read & perfect as an audio book, although I found the Wikipedia hype This is a compilation of articles by the author from 2003-2009 previously published in upscale mags like the New Yorker & the Atlantic. There are some brief updates to most & links if you're curious as to the rest of the story. Grann has done in-depth coverage of a wide range of topics. Not all were to my taste, but I believe his reporting was well done, although not always well balanced. Still, I highly recommend it. Very well read & perfect as an audio book, although I found the Wikipedia hyperlinks to the various subjects helpful. Most are also contained here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dev... but I've included a few others, too. "Any truth is better than indefinite doubt". The foremost authority on Sherlock Holmes is found dead. Was it murder or suicide? Grann traces the eerie parallels between Green's life & that of Doyle in their obsession. Sherlock Holmes might just be the devil or at least a curse on those who have to much to do with him. Interesting how easy it is to write about a fictional character as if he is real. Spooky. It's also interesting how the popular & real stories vary. Trial by fire is about Cameron Todd Willingham who was convicted of killing his 3 kids by arson in 1991 & executed in 2004. Quite a few disputed the evidence of arson, although it was too little too late for Willingham. My faith in the 'justice' system (never high, especially in Texas) has reached a new low. Fire investigators with no real training or certification? Death penalty review boards that don't bother to read reports? The chameleon is Frédéric Bourdin a man who successfully fooled people into believing he was a teenager into his mid thirties. The whole thing is amazing & bizarre. True crime didn't do much for me save for engendering enormous respect for the Polish investigator that kept on this case for so long. It's a murder which the killer, Krystian Bala, novelized. Which way did he run? is about a fire fighter who lost his memory of what he did on 9/11. His entire crew was dead, but he survived. How? Why? "The Squid Hunter" shows just how little we know about the ocean & how difficult it is to get to know it better. Grann went out with Steve O'Shea to try to capture a live, baby giant squid to try to raise so it can be studied. At the time this article was written, only dead specimens were available. I did a quick search & don't believe one has been caught yet. City of water is about the water issues of NYC. It's amazing how old & crumbly they've allowed this necessity to become. The sandhogs are trying to build a third tunnel, but it's taking decades (since 1954!) for a number of reasons that Grann covers by getting down & dirty. Well done. The old man and the gun is Forrest Tucker a career criminal. He's obviously hooked on the rush like an addict on crack. What a waste. Yes, he had a tough early life. No, that doesn't excuse his later idiocy. His idea of what constitutes an escape is ludicrous. Stealing time is about Rickey Henderson a baseball player, the epitome of an overpaid, egocentric asshole. People like him are the main reason I dislike professional sports. Anyone that talks about themselves in the third person are ridiculous no matter how good they are. His decent from a legend to a figure of pity is shameful, but not unusual. "The Brand" is about the attempted cleanup of the Aryan Brotherhood in the US prisons. While an earlier article makes a case against capital punishment, this one makes a great case for it. It's incredible that inmates could run the prisons & how long it took to even attempt to clean this mess up. Crime Town, USA covers the cleanup of James Traficant, a multi term, incredibly corrupt congressman after decades of blatant abuses. Giving the "devil" his due covers the mess that Clinton & the CIA made of Haiti. The Devil is Toto Constant head of the death squads who was allowed to live in the US. It shows the complexity of meddling in foreign affairs. As you can see, this is an eclectic collection. I envy Grann his wide experiences & appreciate his ability to share them so well.

  4. 5 out of 5

    J.K. Grice

    A superb selection of essays from renowned journalist David Grann. Neat pieces ranging from the scientific, to the mysterious, to the unexplained. Great book!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Doug Beatty

    I have to preface this review and tell you that David Grann is a good writer, and the essays that I did read I enjoyed. The reason for the three star rating is mostly because it is being billed as a "true crime" book, and indeed, in the library, it is given the 364 call number signifying true crime. I love true crime and when the new books come in, I like to grab them and read them (or in this case, listen). This collection of essays does have some true crime and those stories I really did enjoy I have to preface this review and tell you that David Grann is a good writer, and the essays that I did read I enjoyed. The reason for the three star rating is mostly because it is being billed as a "true crime" book, and indeed, in the library, it is given the 364 call number signifying true crime. I love true crime and when the new books come in, I like to grab them and read them (or in this case, listen). This collection of essays does have some true crime and those stories I really did enjoy . The first four stories really pull you in, introduce you to some unusual characters and have a general crime theme, though not traditional, still they fall into the crime category and are quite enjoyable. Then the book veers off into another direction entirely. The fifth story is about a fireman who is found in the rubble of 9/11 and is not sure whether he was a hero or a coward. I would not go as far to say that this was madness or obsession, the other headings in the title, but still a good story. Then I hit the sixth story, about the hunt for a giant squid. And most of the story is not about the man searching for the squid, but the squid itself. Not to be a library geek, (though I am) this would definitely fall in the 590's or the natural sciences. A long stretch from true crime... and at that point, the book lost my interest. It is a collection of his published essays, and if it was marketed as such, I would know what I was getting and would have probably enjoyed it more. But to market it as a true crime and put it alongside other works of true crime, I think readers of the genre that do not know him will be a little bit put out. I know I was hoping for more short crime stories and did not get what I was looking for. If you like good writing and good essays, read the book. But be aware that there are a myriad of types of stories and they don't all flow together. But take each as one essay, and you have something good.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    3.75 stars My search for the story of The Old Man and the Gun lead me to two separate books. This one and also The Old Man and the Gun: and Other Tales of True Crime. Both books are short stories analogies. Twelve short stories, all true. Even the one on the fictitious Sherlock Holmes is based on the true figure of Dr Joseph Bell. Among the twelve some are happy and some are sad, but they all speak to the good and/or evil of mankind. Mystery, intrigue, and the unknown in life pulls these stories t 3.75 stars My search for the story of The Old Man and the Gun lead me to two separate books. This one and also The Old Man and the Gun: and Other Tales of True Crime. Both books are short stories analogies. Twelve short stories, all true. Even the one on the fictitious Sherlock Holmes is based on the true figure of Dr Joseph Bell. Among the twelve some are happy and some are sad, but they all speak to the good and/or evil of mankind. Mystery, intrigue, and the unknown in life pulls these stories together. A large unseen, sought after squid, a grown man posing as a young boy, the fall of a major league baseball star, the execution of an innocent man, the tunnels below New York City and more are the center of each story. Each one so different, but yet they remain connected. However my objective in reading the book was this story ~~ 'The Old Man and the Gun' has just been released as a Robert Redford movie, said to be his last. After reading the story, I find it a fitting way for Redford to end his acting career. Based on a true story, Forest Tucker ended his life of crime the way he started it years before, robbing a bank. He was a bank robber and an escape artist. For 50 years, until last caught in 1999, Tucker was either robbing banks or doing his time, and planning another escape. Having escaped 18 times, incarcerated at seventy-nine years old, frail and showing his age, he still indicated that he had one more escape in his future. David Gann, author, is well known for his great non-fiction writing. This book is no exception.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    Picked this up after reading a fabulous New Yorker story (about murder and political intrigue in Guatemala) by David Grann. Was curious to see what else he had written -- as it turns out, that would be basically ALL of my favorite New Yorker stories over the last decade, or since whenever I started subscribing. I blame the infrequency of his byline for my lack of name recognition -- but sure enough, as I made my way through I recognized one after another story, each of which I remember falling h Picked this up after reading a fabulous New Yorker story (about murder and political intrigue in Guatemala) by David Grann. Was curious to see what else he had written -- as it turns out, that would be basically ALL of my favorite New Yorker stories over the last decade, or since whenever I started subscribing. I blame the infrequency of his byline for my lack of name recognition -- but sure enough, as I made my way through I recognized one after another story, each of which I remember falling hard for when they were first published. There's the one about the postmodern serial killer in Poland (which I think I rather annoyingly emailed to about 50 people with the subject line "you must read this"), the one about the French change-up artist who goes around posing as children, the one about what all evidence points to as being the execution of an innocent man in Texas. Basically, this man has a knack for finding, and telling, an incredible story. I think if I were a journalist, reading this book would fill me with despair. Even though I'm not, it made me kinda wish I could BE David Grann, doing whatever it is he does to find these stories.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    The Devil & Sherlock Holmes is a collection of David Grann's investigative journalism, covering a wide range of topics (though, as the subtitle of this book suggests, he is a bit fixated on stories of murder, madness and obsession, particularly the latter). David Grann is very good at what he does, and this collection is proof of that. All the essays in this book have been previously published in newspapers and magazines, including the two essays that gave the inspiration for the mashed-up title The Devil & Sherlock Holmes is a collection of David Grann's investigative journalism, covering a wide range of topics (though, as the subtitle of this book suggests, he is a bit fixated on stories of murder, madness and obsession, particularly the latter). David Grann is very good at what he does, and this collection is proof of that. All the essays in this book have been previously published in newspapers and magazines, including the two essays that gave the inspiration for the mashed-up title ("Mysterious Circumstances: The Strange Death of a Sherlock Holmes Fanatic" and "Giving 'The Devil' His Due: The Death-Squad Real Estate Agent"). The first two essays were by far my favorites. The one detailing the life and death of the Sherlock Holmes expert struck exactly the right balance of seriousness and mystery for me, and the second one, while equally as compelling, also made me angry (it's an essay about a man who was most likely executed for killing his three children while proof of his innocence was available to those in power). The rest of the essays were just a bit of a letdown after that opening twofer, but until the last part of the book, I still enjoyed almost all of them. The book is split into three parts, all preceded by a quote from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. The first part concerns mysteries to which we might never know the full answers; the second, stories about individuals who pursue things obsessively (a man who won't give up his search of the first live giant squid, another who can't stop robbing banks, another a family of men who have all worked on the underground city of tunnels that supply NYC's water, and perhaps the most notable, one about an infamous conman who won't stop impersonating teenagers, etc.). The final section detailed stories of corruption and organized crime. The last section was by far my least favorite, and I kind of wish I would have skipped it. (Of note: All the essays in this section--one about the Aryan Brotherhood, another about the mafia in Youngstown, and the last detailing the exploits of a Haitian war criminal--were thoroughly written and researched, but I found them mostly very unpleasant to read due to my own personal tastes about the subject matter. I much prefer Grann writing about more humane topics.) Overall, I'm glad I finally picked this up. I've liked Grann's writing since I read The Lost City of Z, and I've been meaning to read this book for years now, just never got around to it. Very much looking forward to his second book-length investigation that was recently published.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    On more than one occasion, I have feared for this journalist's life while reading his New Yorker stories. No, he doesn't risk life and limb reporting from battlefields overseas. Rather, he files his reports from pretty much anywhere and everywhere, shining light over obsessive and sometimes very, very odd human behaviors. This is a collection of his work over the last some odd years mostly for the New Yorker. The subjects of his stories, as best I can put it, have leapt over some kind of metapho On more than one occasion, I have feared for this journalist's life while reading his New Yorker stories. No, he doesn't risk life and limb reporting from battlefields overseas. Rather, he files his reports from pretty much anywhere and everywhere, shining light over obsessive and sometimes very, very odd human behaviors. This is a collection of his work over the last some odd years mostly for the New Yorker. The subjects of his stories, as best I can put it, have leapt over some kind of metaphorical precipice inside their minds and are in mid-fall, potentially toward their very, real doom. They include a Sherlock Holmes fanatic (and his suspicious death/possible murder), a fully grown man who makes a habit of impersonating teenagers, a novelist who writes a book with the details of a terrible crime he may or may not have committed, and an old man who can't give up a life of crime even into his eighties.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    Collection of essays that are increasingly less to do with Sherlock Holmes as the book goes on -- the title is simply to draw people interested in Sherlock Holmes-ian mysteries, I think. There's some interesting cases here, though they don't all seem to share much of a theme. Mostly reminds me that people are very odd, sometimes. Collection of essays that are increasingly less to do with Sherlock Holmes as the book goes on -- the title is simply to draw people interested in Sherlock Holmes-ian mysteries, I think. There's some interesting cases here, though they don't all seem to share much of a theme. Mostly reminds me that people are very odd, sometimes.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bibliovoracious

    I listened to the whole book waiting for the title to make sense. At the last chapter, it dawned: the first chapter is about Sherlock Holmes, and the last is about the Devil of Haiti- Toto Constant. The book is a collection of journalistic essays/stories spun out with suspense and to the perfect length- excellent detail, but still well-paced. The stories as a whole have little to do with each other (hence my title confusion), but most were extremely interesting to me. I loved the giant squid ex I listened to the whole book waiting for the title to make sense. At the last chapter, it dawned: the first chapter is about Sherlock Holmes, and the last is about the Devil of Haiti- Toto Constant. The book is a collection of journalistic essays/stories spun out with suspense and to the perfect length- excellent detail, but still well-paced. The stories as a whole have little to do with each other (hence my title confusion), but most were extremely interesting to me. I loved the giant squid explorer, the death row arsonist, and the murdering author rather more than the prison gang and crooked governor stories myself. Very educational. The author is obviously an experienced reporter/investigator with a diversity of interests, an intense research ethic, and a great willingness to say yes. Wanna join the crew of a small boat hunting giant squid in a hurricane? Sure!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    An eclectic collection of essays written by David Grann I wasn't sure what I was in for. I've never heard of the author before but the blurb was interesting and the book was cheap. The first essay about the death of Sherlock Holmes expert Richard Lancelyn Green was, I felt, a poor choice of opening work. I realise it was chosen to link with the Holmes aspect but it was a confusing, disjointed article and if the rest of the book was in that vein I would not have completed it. From there though the An eclectic collection of essays written by David Grann I wasn't sure what I was in for. I've never heard of the author before but the blurb was interesting and the book was cheap. The first essay about the death of Sherlock Holmes expert Richard Lancelyn Green was, I felt, a poor choice of opening work. I realise it was chosen to link with the Holmes aspect but it was a confusing, disjointed article and if the rest of the book was in that vein I would not have completed it. From there though the quality increased and I found myself much more interested in the stories, particularly the essays about convicted chameleon Frédéric Bourdin, giant squid hunter Steve O'Shea and geriatric bank robber Forrest Tucker. As a non-American the story about baseballer Rickey Henderson was probably the least interesting but was still ok. A decent book it was good for a cheap read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    David Grann is a terrific writer, and I loved "The Lost City of Z," but this set of stories (all previously published in magazines) does not satisfy the reader in terms of thematic continuity or real mystery-style excitement. Were they all in the league of the first story, about the mysterious death of an obsessive Sherlock Holmes enthusiast, this would be four or even five stars. Some verge on dull, even the final story about a Haitian warlord and the essay about a researcher chasing the elusiv David Grann is a terrific writer, and I loved "The Lost City of Z," but this set of stories (all previously published in magazines) does not satisfy the reader in terms of thematic continuity or real mystery-style excitement. Were they all in the league of the first story, about the mysterious death of an obsessive Sherlock Holmes enthusiast, this would be four or even five stars. Some verge on dull, even the final story about a Haitian warlord and the essay about a researcher chasing the elusive giant squid. Because there are no common threads tying the stories together ("obsession" is too vague) the book ends anticlimactically. It seemed mostly like an excuse for Grann to get another book out.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    A wonderful collection of essays by David Grann. In keeping with his book The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, Gramm focuses on obsession. Whil a good portion of the essays focus on crime or crime related stories, there are some notable ones that do not. In this collection not only when you meet the old gentleman stick up man, but a squid hunter (who wants to study them) and the sandhogs under New York. Each of the essays are well written and beautifully told. There is so A wonderful collection of essays by David Grann. In keeping with his book The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, Gramm focuses on obsession. Whil a good portion of the essays focus on crime or crime related stories, there are some notable ones that do not. In this collection not only when you meet the old gentleman stick up man, but a squid hunter (who wants to study them) and the sandhogs under New York. Each of the essays are well written and beautifully told. There is something in here for everyone and the essays were engrossing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Angus McKeogh

    Several nonfiction pieces of reportage. Great stories. Some I’d heard a little about (but these stories went into much greater detail) and some were new to me. Very readable and never got boring. One of the better books I’ve read in quite some time.

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Devlin

    It’s title belays the quirkiness of its story’s. Though no Joe Exotic, many of the people cast eccentric shadows that demonstrate the wilds and weirdness of America.

  17. 5 out of 5

    J.R.

    David Grann has a knack for ferreting out intriguing stories about eccentric, obsessed people. This collection comprises 12 essays previously published in a variety of magazines, and not one of the dozen is a dud. In addition to extensive interviews with his subjects, Grann rounds out their stories with additional research. Some of the essays are mysteries in the broadest sense. These would include the story of the Sherlock Holmes scholar who may or may not have been murdered, the serial imposter David Grann has a knack for ferreting out intriguing stories about eccentric, obsessed people. This collection comprises 12 essays previously published in a variety of magazines, and not one of the dozen is a dud. In addition to extensive interviews with his subjects, Grann rounds out their stories with additional research. Some of the essays are mysteries in the broadest sense. These would include the story of the Sherlock Holmes scholar who may or may not have been murdered, the serial imposter who might have even conned himself, and the murderer who wrote a novel about his crime. A few are heart-wrenchingly sad, such as the story of the man executed for the arson deaths of his children who appears to have been innocent, and that of the fireman obsessed with finding out whether he was a hero or a coward on 9/11. And then there are those which should turn the readers stomach—the murderous reign of the Aryan Brotherhood in and out of prison and the CIA’s complicity in allowing a Haitian terrorist to escape punishment and live out his life among the very people he terrorized. That’s just a few of the excellent tales in this worthy collection.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    A collection of Grann's investigative pieces, on subjects ranging from the mysterious death of a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast to the decaying career of a former baseball star. There's no connecting thread, so although the articles themselves seem well-researched and pretty well-written, I wasn't wowed by this collection. It's not a book; it's just a bunch of his articles stuffed together so he can earn money on them a second time. Still, the subjects are often fascinating, so it's worth a single r A collection of Grann's investigative pieces, on subjects ranging from the mysterious death of a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast to the decaying career of a former baseball star. There's no connecting thread, so although the articles themselves seem well-researched and pretty well-written, I wasn't wowed by this collection. It's not a book; it's just a bunch of his articles stuffed together so he can earn money on them a second time. Still, the subjects are often fascinating, so it's worth a single read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dolly

    This book offers a very odd collection of a dozen journalistic short stories chronicling the actions and behaviors of some strange and obsessive people from a wide variety of backgrounds. As mentioned at the end of the book, nine of the twelve tales were first published in The New Yorker, with the remaining ones published elsewhere. While each story was fascinating in its own way, I was most engaged I the beginning and began to lose interest about half-way through. Engaging, but not riveting. This book offers a very odd collection of a dozen journalistic short stories chronicling the actions and behaviors of some strange and obsessive people from a wide variety of backgrounds. As mentioned at the end of the book, nine of the twelve tales were first published in The New Yorker, with the remaining ones published elsewhere. While each story was fascinating in its own way, I was most engaged I the beginning and began to lose interest about half-way through. Engaging, but not riveting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Freesiab

    Not rounding up or down, ouch. This book simply did not live up to the title, or to Mr. Holmes. There were a few stories that were very interesting but overall it was more like stereo instructions. Additionally I listened on audiobook and the narrator didn’t help. I think a more cohesive, or better organized structure, would have been more successful.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    While I didn't quite enjoy The Devil & Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, & Obsession quite as much as The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, this collection of investigative journalism essays is still engrossing. You can be certain, though, that David Grann is marvelous at piecing together the stories behind the mysteries. Anyway if you haven't read David Grann yet, I highly recommend his work and this collection of stories is as good as place as any to start. While I didn't quite enjoy The Devil & Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, & Obsession quite as much as The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, this collection of investigative journalism essays is still engrossing. You can be certain, though, that David Grann is marvelous at piecing together the stories behind the mysteries. Anyway if you haven't read David Grann yet, I highly recommend his work and this collection of stories is as good as place as any to start.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Grann's the author of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, and he's super fun to read. This is a collection of essays, mostly from the New Yorker, about...well, loosely about people who are obsessed with things. The first essay's about the world's foremost expert on Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, who was found dead under suspicious circumstances while in the midst of a legal fight with Conan Doyle's estate - a fight with millions of dollars at stake. The case ha Grann's the author of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, and he's super fun to read. This is a collection of essays, mostly from the New Yorker, about...well, loosely about people who are obsessed with things. The first essay's about the world's foremost expert on Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, who was found dead under suspicious circumstances while in the midst of a legal fight with Conan Doyle's estate - a fight with millions of dollars at stake. The case has never been solved. That's pretty interesting, right? That totally happened, too; this is non-fiction. And many of the essays are just as interesting. Not all, but enough to make this worth checking out. Personally, I'd check out Lost City first; generally I prefer books about one thing to collections of essays. I gave Lost City 5 stars, and Devil & Sherlock Holmes 4. But yeah, this is cool stuff.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    This was a splendid collection. I thoroughly enjoyed ever article other than the baseball one. I'm just not a sports fan, and didn't have my interest piqued in the first few minutes, so I skipped it. The rest of the articles were wonderful and engaging. Very well written, and full of immediacy. The author has gotten to meet some incredibly interesting individuals. Highly recommend this one. This was a splendid collection. I thoroughly enjoyed ever article other than the baseball one. I'm just not a sports fan, and didn't have my interest piqued in the first few minutes, so I skipped it. The rest of the articles were wonderful and engaging. Very well written, and full of immediacy. The author has gotten to meet some incredibly interesting individuals. Highly recommend this one.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    This is a great book. A compilation of Grann’s various magazine articles. They are all fascinating and if they weren’t true would seem unbelievable. It’s an insight into some dark places and curious people. I highly recommend.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bob Redmond

    Grann's journalism for The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and The New Yorker is collected here, in twelve pieces. Modern-day noir, they deal with fringes of society: prisons, criminals, and misanthropes, for the most part, with a few other pieces--on baseball Hall-of-Famer Rickey Henderson, on a giant squid-hunter, on a fireman from 9/11 who has amnesia--thrown in rather randomly. The titular piece delves into the world of "Sherlockians," a cross-section of antiqu Grann's journalism for The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and The New Yorker is collected here, in twelve pieces. Modern-day noir, they deal with fringes of society: prisons, criminals, and misanthropes, for the most part, with a few other pieces--on baseball Hall-of-Famer Rickey Henderson, on a giant squid-hunter, on a fireman from 9/11 who has amnesia--thrown in rather randomly. The titular piece delves into the world of "Sherlockians," a cross-section of antiquarians, anachronists, and book collectors. In this group of oddballs, a death--a murder?--has occurred, reaching into the very center of the Arthur Conan Doyle estate. For many, Conan Doyle IS Holmes, so the modern-day tale reads like a Holmes mystery, with Grann as the dogged Watson. Grann is something more and less than Watson, too: a solitary reporter, he poses his own hypotheses and chases them down. With no Holmes to keep him grounded in the "elementary," Barnum-esque impulses ripple throughout these stories: Amazing! Remarkable! Horrific! reads the subtext, or really super-text, since Grann (or his editors) use Conan Doyle epigrams for each section of the book, and title each story in the same vein. On first blush, this is so much hokum: Anti-social kid from France assumes fake identities, and scams innocent people--all the way to Texas! Seventy-eight year old man robs banks with a Colt .45! Fireman after the fire: did he save lives, or run away? While these verge towards Weekly World News fodder, Grann infuses these "strange but true" tales first of all with in-depth reporting, and with nuance and compassion. Not only do you feel sorry for the anti-social kid, but without a rush to judgment, the victimized family is implicated, and a murder is possibly exposed. This particular subject (like a few others in the book) has been used as the basis for episodes of Law and Order. Grann's genius is for postponing the verdict, sustaining the moral ambiguity of his subjects. At his best, he leaves broadway barkers, supermarket tabloids, and procedural TV dramas in the dust, with half the stories reaching this high--or low. Is society, or any of us, any better or different, than our most extreme elements? Those Victorians were onto something: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde really are the same person. In the best piece, Grann reports on a violent, white supremacist prison gang--the Brand--that has morphed into one of the most powerful organized crime outfits in America (also, due to the profit motive, shedding its race-centric ethos). Grann interviews members of the gang, and though they have done terrible things, you feel sorry for them. Until you realize that the gang is probably right now infiltrating grade schools, and then we could look on Grann as the canary in the coal mine, singing a frightful warning. In that role even more literally, he delves into the water-supply system in New York City, which is on the verge of collapse. He traces four generations of "sandhogs," who work hundreds of feet below the surface, digging and installing a new water system. Will they finish before the entire city runs dry? His story of Youngstown, Ohio, the influence of the Mafia there, and the career of former Mayor and US Congressman James Traficant is heartbreaking and alarming, mostly the latter. Like the best of the pieces in this book, it has everything--a compelling public issue, a gripping personal narrative, first-rate reporting, and tight-as-a-drum writing. Astonishing! Terrifying! You won't be able to tear your eyes from the page! * WHY I READ THIS BOOK: My friend Patty (an avid reader) and I have a periodic book club: each of us picks a book for the other, given some broad instructions. I asked for something "pulpy," something narrative that is fun to read, something rather escapist, taking me away from my work-brain and also my work-related reading. Pretty tall order, huh? She said "fiction or non-fiction?" Either one, said I, and so she produced this book by Grann. (For her incidentally, I chose FARM CITY by Novella Carpenter, since she wanted a non-fiction, interesting read.)

  26. 5 out of 5

    El

    In The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, Grann's focus was the British explorer Percy Fawcett and Fawcett's driving obsession to find El Dorado. For his second book, Grann's focus is on... well, more obsession and madness. The title of this book is actually misleading. There is only one essay that involves Sherlock Holmes in any way. I was disappointed for a good twenty seconds after realizing that, but then I realized the next essay was just as good. Grann's journalistic In The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, Grann's focus was the British explorer Percy Fawcett and Fawcett's driving obsession to find El Dorado. For his second book, Grann's focus is on... well, more obsession and madness. The title of this book is actually misleading. There is only one essay that involves Sherlock Holmes in any way. I was disappointed for a good twenty seconds after realizing that, but then I realized the next essay was just as good. Grann's journalistic experience is apparent in this collection of 12 essays, and he's obviously been at this collection for a while as some of the essays go way back to 2000. Anyone familiar with the New Yorker will recognize some of these since nine of them were published first in the magazine. (Before anyone gets all weepy about how difficult it is to get published in the New Yorker and here this David Grann dude had nine essays published in the last ten years, stop. Grann is a staff writer for the New Yorker. And his writing doesn't suck, which helps. Oh, snap.) When I find myself fixated on certain situations in my life, it's nice to be able to refer to a book like this. Grann details some really obsessed people, not just the fake kind you see on TV. These are real stories, some that I had never even heard of, and some that I was familiar with like the story of Frederic Bourdin. Reading this was sort of like watching reality shows on TV - it's a nice reminder that no matter how crazy you feel at times, a quick flip of the page or the channel proves just how sane you are, and how crazy other people really are. It's comforting, really. Grann is one to keep an eye on. His narrative journalism is fun and interesting and makes you want to know more. I wanted to learn more about Percy Fawcett after reading The Lost City of Z. And now I want to learn more about some of those real characters too. That, in my opinion, is what makes a good writer. I look forward to seeing what else Grann can come up with to amuse me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary McCoy

    An edge-of-the-seat collection of investigative journalism that combines crime pieces (the Mafia-like rise of the Aryan Brotherhood in the federal prison system) and subjects that simply present puzzling questions (What's up with the giant squid? Or New York City's water supply? Or Rickey Henderson?). Standouts in the book include the title piece about the suspicious death of one of the world's leading Holmes scholars, shortly after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's papers were put up for auction; "True C An edge-of-the-seat collection of investigative journalism that combines crime pieces (the Mafia-like rise of the Aryan Brotherhood in the federal prison system) and subjects that simply present puzzling questions (What's up with the giant squid? Or New York City's water supply? Or Rickey Henderson?). Standouts in the book include the title piece about the suspicious death of one of the world's leading Holmes scholars, shortly after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's papers were put up for auction; "True Crime," the story of a Polish police detective trying to prove that an author included highly personal details about a grisly killing in his novel; and "Giving 'The Devil' His Due," about Haitian war criminal Toto Constant, who fled to the U.S. after President Aristide was reinstated, and seemingly sheltered by the CIA, despite leading death squads. The best essay, and the most curious, is "The Chameleon," about a French con artist who specializes in impersonating teenage boys. In one of his cons, he pretends to be a teenage boy from Texas who was reported missing. Despite bearing only a slight resemblance to the missing boy, having a European accent, and spinning a wildly implausible story about being a victim of international sex trafficking, the Texas family welcomes him back with few questions and not much enthusiasm. After a few months, the con artist begins to realize he's just conned himself into the wrong family. All of these pieces were previously published elsewhere (mostly in the New Yorker); however, if you haven't seen them before, this collection is diverse, fascinating, and definitely worth checking out.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I was very impressed with Grann's writing in Killers of the Flower Moon, how he told a complicated story in such an organized and compelling way. So I decided to read this, which is a collection of magazine articles, most from The New Yorker. As with some essay books I skipped a few that didn't hold my attention. The ones I read were great. The first one features Sherlock Holmes fanatics belonging to international rival clubs, some insisting Sherlock only be referred to as a real person, devotio I was very impressed with Grann's writing in Killers of the Flower Moon, how he told a complicated story in such an organized and compelling way. So I decided to read this, which is a collection of magazine articles, most from The New Yorker. As with some essay books I skipped a few that didn't hold my attention. The ones I read were great. The first one features Sherlock Holmes fanatics belonging to international rival clubs, some insisting Sherlock only be referred to as a real person, devotion till its bonkers, and the essay focuses on one man, prominent in that world, who died in a locked-room mystery. Five stars for that one. And for the one about the 9/11 first responder who doesn't remember his actions that morning and tries to piece together how he ended up where he did; the true crime tale about a psycho killer in Poland; the scientist obsessed with finding a live giant squid and the heartbreaking one "Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man?" Also the one about prison gangs -- which if you had told me I'd be utterly absorbed reading about prison gangs I would have said hah, no. But yes, and it's because Grann is an excellent storyteller.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Thanksgiving road trip book. I didn't like it much, but how to describe it? I knew this was going to be a collection of true stories, but I thought there would be more cohesion. As expected, the first few chapters are all about crimes: the murder of a Sherlock Holmes mega-fan... or was it a clever suicide? A chapter on the (probable) execution of an innocent man in Texas... another on a man who changes identities like a hermit crab changes shells... then the book takes a turn. The next chapter i Thanksgiving road trip book. I didn't like it much, but how to describe it? I knew this was going to be a collection of true stories, but I thought there would be more cohesion. As expected, the first few chapters are all about crimes: the murder of a Sherlock Holmes mega-fan... or was it a clever suicide? A chapter on the (probable) execution of an innocent man in Texas... another on a man who changes identities like a hermit crab changes shells... then the book takes a turn. The next chapter is about the lone survivor of an engine/ladder at 9/11... another is about a man obsessed with definitively proving the existence of giant squids... I kept wanting the chapters to tie together better, but it felt like I was watching a marathon of 30-minute forensic shows. This might have been easier to follow if the author had selected stories with a common thread, had fewer chapters that were a bit longer, and used narration to make the transition between each chapter smoother - to wrap them up and lead them in. But as it's written it's just a weird mish-mash. Not my cup of tea.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    The best nonfiction book I have ever read, period. All of the stories in this book, real life stories mind you, are absolutely spell binding, adding to the old adage of truth being stranger than fiction, and they are masterfully written. They range from a murder mystery involving obsessive Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle fans, to Haitian dictators, giant squid hunters, horrifying prison gangs, a chameleon con man, and many more. Credit must be given to David Grann, a captivating writer who ha The best nonfiction book I have ever read, period. All of the stories in this book, real life stories mind you, are absolutely spell binding, adding to the old adage of truth being stranger than fiction, and they are masterfully written. They range from a murder mystery involving obsessive Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle fans, to Haitian dictators, giant squid hunters, horrifying prison gangs, a chameleon con man, and many more. Credit must be given to David Grann, a captivating writer who hasn't fallen into the trap of contemporary "snark" journalism you tend to see in this era of bloggers and would-be-witty Twitter users. I commend the man for his excellent writing ability, and for bringing these wonderfully intriguing stories to light.

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