Summary and book reviews of A Slight Trick of The Mind by Mitch Cullin

A Slight Trick of The Mind

by Mitch Cullin

A Slight Trick of The Mind by Mitch Cullin X
A Slight Trick of The Mind by Mitch Cullin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2005, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2006, 272 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

This subtle and wise work is more than a re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes but a profound meditation on faultiness of memory and how, as we grow older, the way we see the world is inevitably altered.

Mitch Cullin's engrossing A Slight Trick of the Mind is an original portrait of literature's most beloved detective, Sherlock Holmes, in the twilight of his illustrious life.

Holmes--"a genius in whom scientific curiosity is raised to the status of heroic passion"--is famous for his powers of deduction. His world is made up of hard evidence and uncontestable facts, his observations and conclusions unsullied by personal feelings, until novelist Cullin goes behind the cold, unsentimental surface to reveal for the first time the inner world of an obsessively private man.

It is 1947, and the long-retired Holmes, now 93, lives in a remote Sussex farmhouse, where his memories and intellect begin to go adrift. He lives with a housekeeper and her young son, Roger, whose patient, respectful demeanor stirs paternal affection in Holmes. Holmes has settled into the routine of tending his apiary, writing in journals, and grappling with the diminishing powers of his razor-sharp mind, when Roger comes upon a case hitherto unknown. It is that of a Mrs. Keller, the long-ago object of Holmes's deep--and never acknowledged--infatuation.

As Mitch Cullin weaves together Holmes's hidden past, his poignant struggle to retain mental acuity, and his unlikely relationship with Roger, Holmes is transformed from the machine-like, mythic figure into an ordinary man, confronting and acquiescing to emotions he has resisted his entire life. This subtle and wise work is more than just a reimagining of a classic character. It is a profound meditation on faultiness of memory and how, as we grow older, the way we see the world is inevitably altered.

Chapter 1

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. He then retreated into the library, where he sat quietly, glad to be surrounded by his books and the familiarity of home. For almost two months, he had been away, traveling by military train across India, by Royal Navy ship to Australia, and then finally setting foot on the occupied shores of postwar Japan. Going and returning, the same interminable routes had been taken–usually in the company of rowdy enlisted men, few of whom acknowledged the elderly gentleman dining or sitting beside them (that slow-walking geriatric, searching his pockets for a match he'd never find, chewing relentlessly on an unlit Jamaican cigar). Only on the rare occasions when an informed officer might announce his identity would the ruddy faces gaze with amazement, assessing him in that moment:...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!
  • award image

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Cullin's Holmes is a rather nice old fellow. He's still the exceptionally acute observer he always was, but age has added a welcome layer of humanity to his character. Not only has he lost "the arrogance of my youth", but as he points out, he never was the person people took him to be - he never wore a deerstalker or smoked a pipe, these - he says - were just figments of the illustrator's imagination; and he's quite willing to admit that he and John ("you know, I never did call him Watson--he was John, simply John") bungled a number of important cases but "of course, who wants to read about the failures?"..continued

Full Review (270 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This look at Holmes near his natural death is a delight and a deeply satisfying read... Cullin's work is hard to pigeonhole-Texas noir (Tideland; Branches), coming-of-age novel (Whompyjawed), academic satire (The Cosmology of Bing)-but his talent is undeniable.

Kirkus Reviews
This extra layer of realistic complexity makes Cullin's immensely moving seventh outing one of the best of all the Holmes pastiches. A talented writer's bold step forward. Let's hope Cullin isn't finished with Sherlock Holmes.

Booklist - Stephanie Zvirin
Under Cullin's sure hand, the vibrant, assured detective we know gives way to a man who looks back with regret at missed opportunities in a manner that makes the larger-than-life figure surprisingly human.

Author Blurb Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife
Mitch Cullin has written a loving, sad tale of Sherlock Holmes in the era of Hiroshima, a Holmes who is not entirely sure of his powers, but who has come into his own humanity. When I was a child I believed that Holmes was a real person. After reading A Slight Trick of the Mind, I know he is.

Author Blurb Margot Livesey, author of Banishing Verona: A Novel
As he explores the mysteries of fatherless boys and childless men, Mitch Cullin transports his reader effortlessly from post-war Japan to Edwardian London. A Slight Trick of the Mind is both intricate and absorbing, a novel of unusual range and depth.

Author Blurb Karl Iagnemma, author of On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction
What a pleasure it was to re-enter Sherlock Holmes's world, and find the aged detective as intelligent and observant as I'd remembered. In Mitch Cullin's imagination, however, Holmes is more pensive and wistful--more human--than ever before. A Slight Trick of the Mind is an elegant meditation on memory and mortality, brilliantly conceived and beautifully written, full of subtlety and wisdom and grace.

Reader Reviews

Kirconnell

The Beekeeper
I really enjoyed this book. It is a different view of the Sherlock Holmes mythology. Readers of Doyle's detective series have always seen Holmes as an energetic younger man at the height of his mental powers, but what would happen when he gets older?...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Armonica

The armonica is a musical instrument constructed of graduated glass bowls with holes and corks in the center. It was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. He was inspired to create it having heard a concert played on wine glasses! For a time armonicas were all the rage, Marie Antoinette (who, incidentally, historians say never did utter the famous words, "let them eat cake") took lessons, and famous composers of the day, such as Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss, wrote music for it. In the mid 1800s it lost popularity and gradually vanished because people came to believe that armonicas drove performers mad and evoked the spirits of the dead. In 1982, the late master glass blower, Gerhard Finkenbeiner, of Massachusetts, revived the ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Mitch Cullin

If you liked A Slight Trick of The Mind, try these:

  • The Art of Detection jacket

    The Art of Detection

    by Laurie R. King

    Published 2007

    About this book

    More books by this author

    Kate Martinelli is investigating the death of Philip Gilbert, an avid Holmes collector who even transformed his home into a copy of 221B Baker Street, when she discovers what could be the motive: a previously unpublished story from Arthur Conan Doyle that could be worth millions

  • Arthur & George jacket

    Arthur & George

    by Julian Barnes

    Published 2006

    About this book

    More books by this author

    An utter astonishment that captures an era through one life celebrated internationally - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and another entirely forgotten - George Edalji.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures
    The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures
    by Jennifer Hofmann
    The title of Jennifer Hofmann's perceptive debut novel with its bureaucratese strongly suggests a ...
  • Book Jacket: His Only Wife
    His Only Wife
    by Peace Adzo Medie
    21-year-old Afi is a talented Ghanaian seamstress eager to study fashion design, but her life is ...
  • Book Jacket: We Have Been Harmonized
    We Have Been Harmonized
    by Kai Strittmatter
    You'd be forgiven if, while reading We Have Been Harmonized, you momentarily mistook it for a ...
  • Book Jacket: Jack
    Jack
    by Marilynne Robinson
    If you are a fan of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead series, you already know who Jack is. Chances are, ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Girl is A Body of Water
    by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

    A powerful portrait of a young Ugandan girl and her family.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Ruthie Fear
    by Maxim Loskutoff

    In this haunting parable of the American West, a young woman faces the violent past of her remote Montana valley.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Find Me
by André Aciman

The author of the worldwide bestseller Call Me by Your Name revisits its complex and beguiling characters.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Memorial Drive

Memorial Drive
by Natasha Trethewey

The moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of tragedy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L N Take I C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.