The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics by James O'brienThe Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics by James O'brien

The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics

byJames O'brien

Paperback | June 15, 2017

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One of the most popular and widely known characters in all of fiction, Sherlock Holmes has an enduring appeal based largely on his uncanny ability to make the most remarkable deductions from the most mundane facts. The very first words that Sherlock Holmes ever says to Dr. Watson are, "How areyou? You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive." Watson responds, "How on earth did you know that?" And so a crime-solving legend is born.In The Scientific Sherlock Holmes, James O'Brien provides an in-depth look at Holmes's use of science in his investigations. Indeed, one reason for Holmes's appeal is his frequent use of the scientific method and the vast scientific knowledge which he drew upon to solve mysteries. For instance, inheart of the book, the author reveals that Holmes was a pioneer of forensic science, making use of fingerprinting well before Scotland Yard itself had adopted the method. One of the more appealing aspects of the book is how the author includes real-world background on topics such as handwritinganalysis, describing how it was used to capture the New York Zodiac killer and to clinch the case against the Lindbergh baby kidnapper.Sherlock Holmes was knowledgeable about several sciences, most notably chemistry. Therefore the book takes a close look at Holmes the chemist and discusses, for example, chemical poisons such as carbon monoxide, chloroform, and Prussic acid (the historical name for hydrogen cyanide). The author alsodebunks Isaac Asimov's famous assertion that Holmes was a blundering chemist. In addition, the book discusses mathematics, physics, biology, astronomy, meteorology, and geology, always in the context of Holmes's exploits.Sherlock Holmes continues to fascinate millions of readers and movie goers alike. The Scientific Sherlock Holmes is a must-read for the legion of fans of this most beloved of all fictional detectives. The paperback version will continue to interest two primary groups: the community of avid Holmesfans who meet regularly to celebrate and discuss the stories, and the scientific community. What scientist would not wish to be "the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen"? Sherlock Holmes, Watson assures us, was precisely that. Scientists admire Holmes's devotion tofact, his intellectual brilliance, and the way he separates emotion from his work, and will be especially attracted by a book that explicitly discusses Holmes from a scientific perspective.
Jim O'Brien is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Missouri State University. A lifelong fan of Holmes, O'Brien presented his paper "What Kind of Chemist Was Sherlock Holmes" at the 1992 national American Chemical Society meeting, which resulted in an invitation to write a chapter on Holmes the chemist in the book Chemistry and Science...
Title:The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and ForensicsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:200 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:June 15, 2017Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190670916

ISBN - 13:9780190670917


Rated 5 out of 5 by from For True Sherlock Holmes Fans In this small book (155 pages of main text), the author covers a lot of territory. Through five chapters, he discusses the origins of Sherlock Holmes, the main characters in the stories, forensic science and Holmes’s use of it, Holmes and chemistry and, finally, Holmes and his use of other sciences. The text is extensively referenced in the sense that (i) individual stories are frequently referred to when pertinent to a particular discussion and (ii) works of other Holmesian scholars are frequently mentioned, as necessary. Although I am an avid Sherlock Holmes fan, I must admit that I was not aware that there were so many serious studies of the stories, of the characters, and of what Doyle had in mind when he wrote his stories. The author is clearly a serious student of Sherlock Holmes stories. He writes his book with a passion that really stands out. I found his prose to be clear, friendly, detailed, lively and quite captivating. This book should be of particular interest to Sherlock Holmes fans, especially those with a passion for forensic science and its history.
Date published: 2013-01-11