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Philip K. Jones reviews The Holmes Sutra

15 Mar

“This is a hard book to classify.  It has been my custom to review only books of Sherlockian fiction, since that is my own area of concentration in matters Sherlockian.  This book is neither quite fact nor quite fiction.  “Sutra” is a familiar word to Indians, but to most Western readers, it is only associated with “The Kama Sutra,” a book familiar to them as a ‘sex manual.’  Juxtaposition of this term with Holmes is difficult to reconcile for most Sherlockians outside of Asia.

Several definitions of the term are offered in the book, but none really spoke to me, so, after reading it and thinking about it, I came to the following understanding.  Suppose that you are speaking with a knowledgeable and thoughtful disciple of a deceased Master of some subject area.  You ask this disciple “What would the Master have done/said in Situation “XYZ?”  The disciple’s reply is what would be called a Sutra.  It may be a quote from the master or it may be the disciple’s judgement of the Master’s response to the posited situation.  In celebration of the Master’s one hundred and sixtieth birthday, the author has collected one hundred and sixty sutras from a variety of sources.

Once you have contemplated the Sutras, you get to take the “Holmes Mania Test.”  The results of this test will tell you how serious your addiction to Holmes has become.  Five degrees of addiction have been described:  Condition “Holmesfree” means that you probably recognize things related to The Master, if he is specifically identified as “Sherlock Holmes.”  Condition “Sherlocked” signifies the onset of a case of addiction, interest in The Canon and other Sherlockian writings.  Condition “Holmesaddicted” signifies that you are in denial, but are firmly infected.

Condition “Holmesick” defines those who are the majority of addicts, hopeful that they can quit any time and sure they are merely hobbyists.  The final condition, the “StockHolmes Syndrome applies to the unfortunate few, who, like myself, are so far gone into their addictions that they actively ‘push’ Holmes upon others and feel no shame at the manifestations of their addiction.  For me, the fact that I have the largest collection of Sherlockian fiction in the world is a matter of pride not a mark of my depravity.

Once you have taken the test and determined the degree of your addiction, there are a number of additional items that will allow you to cater to your condition with books and organizations to help you shed or indulge your own addiction, whichever you wish (Hah!).  Please realize, however, that the author is a lawyer, so beware of bestowing your trust in her advice unless she is on retainer.”

The Holmes Sutra is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository . In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).

holmes sutra

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