Monday, December 9, 2013

"A Slight Trick of the Mind" by Mitch Cullin

This is not a happy book.  I didn't like it very well.  I found it quite depressing, to be honest.  I'm not saying it's a bad book, because it's not.  It's perfectly readable, and other people might really like it.  There's a movie version in the works, starring Ian McKellen, which is how I first heard of this and why I read it.

Anyway, A Slight Trick of the Mind is about an aging Sherlock Holmes who is slowly losing his memory.  He's in his nineties and succumbing to the ravages of age, just like anyone else.  He's living in Sussex, tending his bees, mentoring his housekeeper's son, and trying to finish writing up an account of a case he worked on back in London decades ago.  He also spends time reminiscing about his recent trip to Japan, and the author weaves those three sections of his life together to form a cohesive whole by the end.

But, like I said, I didn't like this book.  Seeing a character I have loved for twenty years as a frail, failing old man was very hard for me, and I will not read this book again.  

First Line:

Upon arriving from his travels abroad, he entered his stone-built farmhouse on a summer's afternoon, leaving the luggage by the front door for his housekeeper to manage (p. 3).

Particularly Good Bits:

His ears registered the low, concentrated murmur of the hive -- the sound of which, in that moment, refused to summon his isolated, content years cultivating the beeyard, but, rather, conveyed the undeniable and deepening loneliness of his existence (p. 186).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for themes of death and loss.


  1. I have missed you!! My break from social media has been good, though, and the time away enabled me to get a genealogical scrapbook/photo album finished for a Christmas gift. Still, though, I have missed my blog friends!!

    Seeing our loved ones grow old, unhealthy, and frail is something most all of us are going to face, and it is so monumentally difficult and sad. I lost one of my grandmothers to that mind-ravaging disease, Alzheimers, and it was agonizing to experience. So I know such a book would hit a little too close to home for me. I would have a difficult time reading it as well.

    1. Hi! Good to see you back around :-) And congratulations on finishing up a project! Lately it seems like, no matter how many projects I finish, there are five or six waiting to be worked on. Sigh.

      It's possible that I disliked this book especially much because my Grandma died this summer, at the age of 94. My other Grandma died a few years ago, after suffering from Alzheimers, and while Holmes here seems to be more troubled with ordinary memory loss than that, it was also a reminder of her issues.

  2. Ugh...I don't doubt that it's a well-written book, but the story just sounds...depressing. I prefer Sherlock Holmes to be immortal. ;P (When Arthur Conan Doyle said that Holmes had occasional attacks of rheumatism, I was shocked and didn't recover for half a day! I don't know how I'd deal with a ninety-year-old this is one book I'll pass up. ;))

    1. I prefer him to be immortal too! Have you read the books about him and his apprentice by Laurie R. King? I rave about them here from time to time, and I definitely prefer their considerably more cheerful take on an older (but not in his 90s, more like his 40s and 50s) Holmes.


What do you think?

Comments on old posts are always welcome!

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)