Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes would know not to judge a book by the cover—or in this case, by the subtitle. While Maria Konnikova does an excellent job of weaving together Holmes’ century-old adventures with modern psychological and sociological studies, detailing the inner-workings of our brains, she fails to bring her insight off the page or out of the laboratories. Konnikova lays out the facts and studies—reiterated ad nauseam—as if that’s enough information on how to adjust our way of thinking, failing to understand or note that an almost omniscient hand was guiding Holmes and the studies through controlled and contrived environments. It’s great that Konnikova keeps this from becoming a DIY self-help book, but it suffers when she fails to apply her research and insight to the real world. As a result, it reads like a thesis desperately trying to reach a minimum word count. Dive into the book as Holmes would—with no preconceived notions—and you’ll discover a wonderful, if not tedious, analysis of Holmes’ methods through a modern psychological and neurological perspective. How you apply that to your life, well, that’s anything but elementary.