I have a crush on David Grann. There, I’ve said it. Even though it’s just a literary crush, please don’t tell my husband.
If you pick up Grann’s new book, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, you will come away just as smitten. He’s a marvelous, engaging author who writes the type of books that are hard to put down. Last year he published The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, a bestseller and one of my fav books of the year.
His new book of true stories really highlights the reporting skills he perfected at The New Yorker, The New Republic and other publications. The 12 stories, each between 25 and 40 pages will surprise, educate and entertain you. Grann traveled to many different locations to interview the people in his stories and had some amazing experiences.
Here is a sampling of some of my favorites:
After a lengthy search for long missing Arthur Conan Doyle papers, an avid Sherlock Holmes fan and scholar is found mysteriously dead — was it murder or suicide? Grann goes to England to find out.
A man accused of setting his house on fire and murdering his two small children is sentenced to death. Was it possible that improved testing methods could have proven that he did not commit this reprehensible act?
During a cyclone, Grann goes on a boat trip with a New Zealand scientist whose life work is to catch the largest invertebrate on earth, the elusive giant squid.
Sandhogs, urban miners working underground, are in a race against time shoring up New York City’s crumbling water tunnels. In a project as dangerous and more expensive than Boston’s Big Dig, these men daily put their lives on the line. Grann accompanied them over six hundred feet underground to get a first hand view of this hazardous occupation.
Whether he’s interviewing baseball great Rickey Henderson or making prison visits to a seventy nine year old bank robber or a member of the feared and ruthless Aryan Brotherhood, Grann makes each story compelling by revealing the faces of people following their passions, obsessions and occasionally exhibiting touches of madness. His reporting skills are equally matched by his literary expertise. This guy can sure tell a story.