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The Science of Sherlock Holmes


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Table of Contents

Preface. Acknowledgments. 1 Dialogue with the Dead. 2 Beastly Tales and Black Dogs. 3 A Fly in the Ointment. 4 Proving Poison. 5 Disguise and the Detective. 6 The Crime Scene by Gaslight. 7 A Picture of Guilt. 8 Shots in the Dark. 9 Bad Impressions. 10 The Real Dirt. 11 Notes from the Devil. 12 A Voice in the Blood. 13 Myth, Medicine, and Murder. Glossary. Bibliography. Index.

About the Author

E. J. Wagner is a crime historian, lecturer, teller of suspense stories for adults, and moderator of the annual Forensic Forum at Stony Brook University's Museum of Long Island Natural Sciences. Her work has been published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, the New York Times, and the Lancet. E. J.'s Web site is


Forensic expert Wagner has crafted a volume that stands out from the plethora of recent memoirs of contemporary scientific detectives. By using the immortal and well-known Sherlock Holmes stories as her starting point, Wagner blends familiar examples from Doyle's accounts into a history of the growth of forensic science, pointing out where fiction strayed from fact. The author avoids the technical details that mar so many other efforts in this genre, injecting life into her narrative by weaving in true crime cases that either influenced Holmes's creator or may have been influenced by a published story from the Baker Street sleuth. Particularly memorable is a creepy 1945 murder of a man who, as a youth, had had an encounter with a spectral dog reminiscent of the hound of the Baskervilles. While some of the speculations are thin (including a passing suggestion about a new Ripper suspect), Wagner presents a balanced view of the history of forensic science that should appeal to a wide audience. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"This book deservedly won an Edgar and should be on the shelves of anyone interested in Holmes's methods". The Sherlock Holmes Journal Summer 2008

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