Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova

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Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova

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Buy Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Lifestyle
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: Psychologist Konnikova aims to share techniques with her readers that will enable them to think like Sherlock Holmes.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 288 Date: February 2014
Publisher: Canongate Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780857867278

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Psychologist Maria Konnikova seems to have rather ambitious aims regarding her new book, Mastermind . She plans to teach her readers how to think like Sherlock Holmes. Anyone who has read the adventures of the world’s most famous detective will have no doubt marvelled at his uncanny powers of analysis and observation. Can a book really unlock the power of the mind and turn average-Joe into a master of deduction?

Konnikova begins her book by explaining her deep-rooted love for the Holmes stories. As a child, her father would read her a story before bed every night as they curled up together in a cosy chair in front of the fireplace. She recalls one particular excerpt from A Scandal in Bohemia that particularly resonated with her and stayed with her for many years: the steps.

How many steps were there leading to 221B Baker Street? This is a question that Holmes put to Watson in an attempt to illustrate the difference between seeing and observing. Watson had surely climbed up and down these steps hundreds of times, but had never stopped to notice how many steps there actually were. Reading this passage got Konnikova thinking. How many steps were in her home? Could mindful observation be the key to seeing the world the way that Holmes does?

Each chapter in the book discusses a different aspect of the Holmesian thought process: observation, imagination, deduction and self-knowledge. We learn about the Brain Attic and how to store and retrieve items in it. The sections are peppered with excerpts from Conan-Doyle’s writings that back up and illustrate each point being made.

The book does have some useful techniques and exercises to help the reader become more observant. However, the narrative is often wordy and long-winded and suffers from too much repetition, particularly when referring to the original books. It is as though the author is taking her affection for Holmes too seriously; imagining him to be a real person to be revered and admired rather than a work of fiction. We should bear in mind that Doyle’s primary reason for writing Holmes was to sell books rather than create an elevated role-model for people to emulate and so the basic premise behind Mastermind seems to be flawed.

The book will undoubtedly appeal to Holmes fans, but in my opinion, the best way to really understand how the great detective thinks is to simply pick up the originals, read through them and come to your own conclusions. I must conclude that having finished the book, I do not feel any more Holmesian in my powers of deduction and sadly, I still do not know how many stairs there are in my hallway....

A whole new generation of authors have created a wonderful collection of brand new Holmes stories that will appeal to fans of the detective. Put Encounters of Sherlock Holmes by George Mann (Editor) on your reading list if you can't get enough of Sherlock.

Buy Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova at Amazon.com.

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