Having heard that Ian McKellen is going to play Sherlock Holmes in a new Bill Condon film co-starring Laura Linney, I decided I had to read the book on which the movie is based.
Mitch Cullin’s A Slight Trick of the Mind takes us to the Sussex coast, 1947, where a very elderly Sherlock Holmes lives in retirement, tending his bees and reflecting on his life. He has little contact with other people, aside from his widowed housekeeper, Mrs. Munro, and her young son, Roger. Holmes has grown uncharacteristically fond of the boy and teaches him about caring for the bees. When Roger is suddenly killed in an accident, Holmes finds his mind—already somewhat untethered—turning back to the few people he has cared for, an early case involving an intriguing woman, and a recent visit to war-ravaged Japan.
Cullin’s Holmes is a man no longer spry, either physically or mentally; this Sherlock is fragile and often confused—about his experiences, his surroundings, and his feelings. And while the book was a bit dry, it makes an interesting addition to the post-Doyle Holmes canon—and a promising basis for a movie.