The Scientific Sherlock Holmes connects Holmes' vegetable poisons with concepts in botany, his use of fingerprinting with forensic science, and carbon monoxide poisoning and hemoglobin tests with concepts in chemistry, thus integrating the Holmes stories with all branches of science.
- Edgar Awards (Edgar Allan Poe Awards)
O'Brien, emeritus distinguished professor of chemistry at Missouri State University, delves deep into the science behind Sherlock Holmes in this brief and engaging volume. The book is clearly aimed at Holmes aficionados-each of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 60 stories featuring the detective are referenced via accepted Holmesian shorthand (e.g., "ABBE" for "The Abbey Grange")-yet the author treats his subject and his associates (Doctor Watson, the long-suffering Mrs. Hudson, and Holmes's bete noir, Professor Moriarty) with obvious affection, and it's catching-his journey into Sherlockian science is both endearing and informative. O'Brien discusses Holmes's investigative acumen according to categories of evidence (e.g., finger- and footprints, hand- and typewritten documents) and provides interesting real-life examples of crimes solved with similar techniques, such as the New York Zodiac killings and the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. O'Brien, a loyal fellow test-tuber, devotes significant energy to defending Holmes against criticisms that he was a sorry chemist, and while the asides are interesting, the intensely detailed science behind the apologia might turn off casual readers. Nevertheless, the scientific rigor with which both scribe and subject approach their tasks is abundantly evident. Illus. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Oxford University Press
January 01, 2013
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