What did Sherlock Holmes know, and how did he know it? Brian McCuskey's How Sherlock Pulled the Trick takes us deeper into the nature of Holmes's intellectual methods than any previous study, with results that are generally stimulating, often fascinating, and occasionally infuriating. The standard view of Holmes is that he is one of literature's greatest rationalists. “He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine the world has seen,” Watson says of Holmes at the beginning of “A Scandal in Bohemia,” and readers and critics have generally taken him at his word (Doyle 1993a: 5). Rosemary Jann's influential account in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Detecting Social Order has the Holmes stories unproblematically articulating a positivistic scientific worldview (Jann 1995). In The Scientific Sherlock Holmes, James F. O'Brien, himself a practicing academic scientist (like Holmes, a chemist), presented a Holmes whose investigations and...

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