Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sherlock Holmes Meets Jesus

My father has always been an avid Sherlock Holmes fan.  Since before I can remember, he began indoctrinating me into the world of eccentric British detectives like the infamous Dr. Watson, Mrs. Marple, and Poirot, making their names a common occurrence in my childhood vocabulary.

Even now, I find myself drawn to newer BBC and PBS adaptations of those same characters.  No matter the actors chosen to play the part (yes, even if Watson is cast as the female Lucy Liu), the dynamics between the brilliant yet quasi-insane Holmes and the ever-stodgy, solid Watson remain the same, always holding true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original fifty-six short stories and four novels.

Never, though, could I have imagined the rather arrogant, cigar-smoking, alcohol-drinking, uber-rational scientist Sherlock Holmes in the same short story as my favorite Bible characters, much less the famous detective pouring over the pages of Scripture to discover its meaning.

However, author Len Bailey has done just that.

In Bailey's newest novel, Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye: The World's Greatest Detective Tackles the Bible's Ultimate Mysteries, he sends Holmes and Dr. Watson back through time to solve ten mysteries from both the Old and New Testament.

The ten interconnected short stories range from solving the mystery of why David took five stones when going out to kill Goliath to what Jesus was writing in the dirt when the priests caught the woman in adultery to why God commanded the Israelites to march around the walls of Jericho seven times only on the seventh day.

While the novel may be read straight through as a narrative, at the end of the novel is a section entitled "Investigative Study Questions," designed to lead the reader through the Scripture, himself, before reading the narrative where Holmes solves the mystery behind the Scripture.

Some chapters' stories are common enough to where these study questions aren't that insightful, but there were a couple narrative chapters filled with so many Old Testament names (like Chapter 8 containing Jehu, Joram, Jezebel, Jehoiachin, Jehoiakin, and Jeremiah--yikes!) or so many New Testament locations (like Chapter 5 on Paul's missionary journeys) that without reading the Scripture first, it was easy to get lost in Bailey's narrative.

Obviously, such a book is not intended to address all the commentators' possible interpretations of each question.  In some cases, such as the chapter where Holmes searches for the answer concerning why Jesus delayed coming until after Lazarus' death, I felt Bailey left out pertinent information, such as the Jews' belief about the soul leaving the body after three days.

Even so, I really enjoyed this as a "fun summer read."  Overall, Bailey's novel is a good choice for Sherlock Holmes fans, as he remains true to Holmes' traditional characteristics, Professor Moriarty, Mrs. Hudson, and the house on Baker Street.

**I have received no compensation for my favorable or unfavorable review. Alas.  No bribes on this blog.


  1. Sounds like a good book and something that I might enjoy reading. A good mix of the Bible, mystery and Sherlock Holmes.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Blessings in Christ...Susan

    1. It was the neatest book I've read all year!