Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes - Maria Konnikova Sherlock Holmes is the epitome of the mystery genre and the private detective. He uses his senses, his expansive knowledge, and his cunning skill to seek out the truth behind the crimes that come to his door. But what goes on in Sherlock Holmes mind? How does he think? And can we get anywhere near the skill of the Master Detective?

While I like Sherlock Holmes well enough, reading two books and a couple movies based on the stories is not enough to call me a fan. The primary reason I read this book was for my book club. And honestly, it did sound intriguing - COULD I learn to think like Sherlock Holmes, to see every detail in my surroundings and process it efficiently?

I honestly think that people who will adore this book will come in two flavors:

1) Sherlock Holmes fans (don't worry - none of the cases are spoiled whatsoever!).

2) People who can read about how Holmes think and figure out how to start thinking like Holmes with little direction from the author.

This wasn't a bad book. There were some really interesting psychological concepts. Unfortunately, I already read a book that discussed almost every single one with nearly the same exact examples, called [b:You Are Not So Smart|11709037|You Are Not So Smart Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself|David McRaney||16656588]. And the latter book, I found to be much better - mostly because it didn't say in the title it would help you to think like Sherlock Holmes and then fail to tell you how to think like Sherlock Holmes (unless the last chapter of steps, using "The Hound of the Baskervilles" was supposed to be the "How To" portion).

I guess that one thing is what trips me up the most about this book, what sent this book from "Okay, but really nothing special" to "frustratingly befuddling". If the title had merely been changed to "Mastermind: How Sherlock Holmes Thinks", I think I could have sailed past much of my frustrations. But this book told me that I would be able to think like Sherlock Holmes, that I should have things to practice to be able to think like Sherlock Holmes. At the end of this book, the only real useful piece of information I took away was:

"If you get only one thing out of this book, it should be this: the most powerful mind is the quiet mind."

Well, that's nice, but just that one thing won't help me think like Sherlock Holmes. Maybe it's a first step, but I have no idea where to go from there. I did think that perhaps that was the book's objective - like Holmes, we were to pay attention, gather clues from the book, and assemble our own steps or "solve the crime". If that was the job, then kudos to the author for the clever execution, but that doesn't solve how lost and frustrated I felt.

For a book that is only 259 pages long, there is an awful lot of repetition. Some sections - such as when things are divided into lists - go on for so long, I forgot what list the item was a part of. Concepts were repeated over and over, with slight word changes. Tons of Holmes stories were included as well, but none of them were ever finished. I guess I can understand not wanting to spoil the mystery, but it left me confused. Also, I started mixing up all the various stories and forgetting which one showed what concept.

And then there are absolutely no notes. No notes, no bibliography, no intext citation, nada. At the end of the chapter, there is a Further Reading section that can send you either to a Sherlock Holmes story or one of (I guess) the sources Konnikova used. As for where she got the research and studies - absolutely nothing. Not what I like to see in a non-fiction book.

The one other point I really want to bring up is this: Sherlock Holmes may have been based on real characters (Doyle and Bell), but he is still fictional. The world he lives in is fictional. So it's exceptionally easy for him to always be attentive and soak up every detail and make the right assumptions based on stereotypes or "common knowledge" of the time, but that doesn't necessarily translate to a real world environment. I'm not saying this entire book was pointless - oh, well, Holmes is fiction, therefore, his thought-process is fiction. I'm saying it's as if I wrote a book about how to meditate like Yoda or Luke Skywalker. Those two are fictional characters in a fictional universe that meditate in a fictional Force. While there would be attributes of the meditation process you could adapt, there still would be fictional parts.

I know this seems like a terrible, scathing review, but that wasn't my point in writing it. This certainly wasn't a terrible book; I just wasn't the person that this book would be best suited for.

If you are unfamiliar with confirmation bias or omission neglect, love Sherlock Holmes, and don't expect a list of steps followed by practice exercises, this is your book. Otherwise, you may want to check it out from the library before plunking down hard-earned cash for this.