Beyond the Book: Background information when reading A Slight Trick of The Mind

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A Slight Trick of The Mind

by Mitch Cullin

A Slight Trick of The Mind by Mitch Cullin
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2005, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2006, 272 pages

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Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 60 stories about Sherlock Holmes between 1887 and 1927. Since Doyle's time, many authors have been inspired to write further stories about Holmes. In recent years these have included Laurie R King (the Mary Russell novels), Michael Chabon (The Final Solution - which I found to be disappointing) and now Mitch Cullin.

The armonica - a musical instrument constructed of graduated glass bowls with holes and corks in the center - forms a central role in the case that Holmes relates. The armonica 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 instrument.

Interesting Links
Play a virtual armonica at the Franklin institute and see a video clip of 'Franklin playing his glass armonica' (considering Franklin died 100 years before the invention of moving pictures I think it's safe to assume that this is not actually Franklin in person!)

Everything you could possibly want to know about Holmes at Sherlockian.net.

The Sherlock Holmes museum at 221b Baker Street, London.

This article is from the May 22, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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