A Slight Trick of the Mind

[Amazon Link]

A few years back I watched the movie Mr. Holmes with Ian McKellen as the detective. The movie was good enough to put the novel on which it was based into the read-someday list, and … here 'tis. It turns out the movie was a reasonably faithful adaptation.

Caveat Lector: the author, Mitch Cullin, writes literary fiction, and he's completely unconcerned with the standard conventions of genre. The mysteries here are pretty minor, don't involve actual crimes, and they are overwhelmed by issues of character. Things are pretty dark, and occasionally tragic. Three plot threads are intertwined:

  1. An aged Holmes in post-WW2 Sussex, tending his bees, with a developing relationship with Roger, the young son of his housekeeper. The relationship is as affectionate as possible, given Holmes' standoffish personality. But Sherlock is plagued with fading memory and increasing physical infirmities.
  2. That's set just after Holmes' return from postwar Japan, where he's gone to research the "prickly ash", a plant said to have benefits for said fading memory. His tour includes Hiroshima, on the mend from its recent encounter with nuclear fission. And he's accompanied by a gay Japanese host who's looking to discover what happened to his long-lost father.
  3. And there are flashbacks to a decades-old case of Sherlock's, where a suspicious husband wants to know what's going on with his increasingly estranged missus, and whether it has anything to do with the music lessons she's been taking from the mysterious Madame Schirmer on the haunting armonica.

A decent read, outside my usual fictional orbits.