Review: The Medical Casebook of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson by Nick Howlett

It is relatively rare that we see non-fiction works for Sherlock Holmes. MX Publishing started its Holmes books with non-fiction from yours truly, so it is good to see another non-fiction author join the ranks. Hail, brother!

What we have in this book is a look at all the maladies that feature in the Canon and how they were perceived / treated in Victorian society. The author is a G.P. so you know the facts are solid.

A staggering fifty-two diseases are covered - going from Diabetes to Lumbago. For each, Howlett follows a pattern:
  • Introduction
  • Where the disease features in the Canon
  • How the disease was perceived in Victorian times
  • How it was treated (rightly or wrongly)
  • How it is viewed by modern medicine
The length of each chapter varies depending on how often the condition is featured in the Canon and how much was known (or presumed known) about it at the time.

The book is, helpfully, peppered with illustrations. Some of these are contemporary drawings and photos relating to the condition under discussion. Others are original depictions of scenes from the Canon. These are all courtesy of a talented artist named Alex Holt, and I hope he gets commissioned to produce similar works for other authors. His style really impressed me.

My only gripe with this book is the font. Perhaps appropriately, it comes across as too clinical. I don't feel this is a book that you will read cover to cover. This is very much a reference book that you will dip in and out of.

In my opinion, this will be of most use to pastiche writers, who need to understand what diseases were called and how they were treated. It will also be of use to anyone with an interest in Victorian society and medicine.

I was given a free copy of this book (uncorrected proof) for review.

Written by Alistair Duncan Buy my books here