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The Sherlock Holmes Handbook

Amidst the vast breadth of works written about Sherlock Holmes, this volume is unique. It seeks both the instruct the aspiring investigator in the ways of the master and to serve as an entree for the casual reader into the fascinating milieu, brilliant methods, and unorthodox habits of the world's most famous consulting detective.

For every reader who dreams of solving crimes in turn-of-the-century London, The Sherlock Holmes Handbook features skills that all would-be sleuths should know:

• How to Use Deductive Reasoning
• How to Analyze Fingerprints-Without Computers
• How to Master a Dozen Disguises
• How to Survive a Plunge over a Waterfall

Readers will also discover a host of information about Holmes and his universe: How was the real Scotland Yard organized? Could people back then really buy cocaine over the counter? And why were the British so terrified of Australia? Packed with fascinating trivia, evocative illustrations, and a classic Victorian design, The Sherlock Holmes Handbook will appeal to “Baker Street Irregulars” of all ages.

It's available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Powell's.

Notable Mentions

Here's a nice write-up from the LA Times.

I was on NPR's "Here and Now" to talk about both Sherlock and the Handbook. Listen to the segment.

"The Sherlock Holmes Handbook is a great tool for those unfamiliar with Sherlock Holmes ... or the perfect way to refresh your knowledge of the series." - Fandomania

"There are two types of people in the world: those who have heard of Sherlock Holmes and those who want to be Sherlock Holmes. This book is perfect for both audiences. For lovers of criminal intent, it features a range of skills that would-be sleuths and curious onlookers should know. Throughout the pages of this beautifully bound book, readers will also learn about the Victorian detective's universe ... a great way to get re-acquainted with the master." - Z!NK Magazine

"Nicely organized and illustrated, not to mention compact and durable, you can keep this volume in your coat pocket or under the seat of your hansom for those tough spots when stress and danger strain your memory. If you're the kind of person who aspires to use the power of analytical reasoning to bring justice to the world, this is your handbook. If you're the kind of person who aspires to learn the secrets of royalty, to the life of the mind, to do interesting things with zest and enthusiasm--this is your handbook." - Guyslitwire

Sample Chapter: How to Fake Your Own Death

 “I owe you many apologies, dear Watson, but it was all-important that it should be thought I was dead, and it is quite certain that you would not have written so convincing an account of my unhappy end had you not yourself thought that it was true.” — Sherlock Holmes, “The Empty House”

Any consulting detective as successful as Sherlock Holmes is sure to rack up an impressive list of powerful enemies, and sometimes—as Holmes decided was the case in “The Final Problem”—the best way to escape their vengeance is to fake one’s own death. This is by no means an option for the faint of heart. Not only is it a cruel thing to inflict upon those who care for you, but it requires an exceeding amount of bother to execute the deed properly. Pray that you never have to embark upon the steps outlined here!

1. Design a persuasive death scene. 

The best kind—and your only option, really—is a death that leaves no recognizable body behind. Explosions or fires are good choices, provided you plant a skeleton in the wreckage that may plausibly be identified as your own. Water-related tragedies in which the corpse is unrecoverable are also ideal, as was Holmes’s choice in “The Final Problem”—he made it appear as though he’d tumbled over the lofty Reichenbach Falls, the treacherous bottom of which authorities didn’t even bother to search for his remains. Holmes’s footprints led up to the precipice and disappeared, leading all concerned to conclude he had fallen to his death—when in fact he had merely climbed over a nearby ledge, where he hid until the scene was deserted and he could make a stealthy escape.

2. Skip town.

As long as you remain near your old familiar haunts or anyone who might recognize you, you’re in danger. Get as far as possible from your home and the scene of your “death,” as quickly as you can. When Holmes miraculously returns to London in “The Empty House,” he tells Watson about the exotic places he’d lived in the intervening three years:Tibet, Persia, Mecca, and Egypt, among other distant locales. Those were extreme choices, to be sure, but extraordinarily safe ones—the chances of his meeting someone there whom he had known prior to his “death” were low indeed.

3. Assume a new identity.

Though your body lives on, your former identity must die. Grow facial hair, change your walk, and develop a new accent to help bury obvious traces of your former self. While traveling far and wide, Holmes went undercover as a Norwegian explorer named Sigerson, whose exploits and discoveries were fantastic enough to make international headlines.Yet he was never recognized as Holmes himself, so convincing was this disguise.

4. Arrange access to a supply of money.

Travel is expensive, and you’ll no longer have access to bank accounts or lines of credit established under your real name. You can always bring cash with you or deposit money into an anonymous offshore account, but keep in mind that making any sudden, last-minute transfers or withdrawals into that account before your death is extremely suspect behavior. If you’re able to plan your death significantly in advance, make gradual, monthly transfers over a period of several years to avoid suspicion. Less advisable was Holmes’s technique: He revealed himself to his brother Mycroft, who became Holmes’s sole confidant and source of funds. Had Mycroft been compromised in some way, Holmes’s secret would’ve been revealed, and his life put into considerable danger. Which brings us to the next point:

5. Reveal yourself to no one.

The wrenching heartache endured by your loved ones is your enemies’ most convinc- ing proof you’re really dead. Should their grief-stricken ululations seem forced or overly theatrical, someone is sure to smell a rat. This profound separation from friends and relations will undoubtedly be the most trying aspect of your ordeal, as even cold and logical Holmes admits—“Several times during the past three years I have taken up my pen to write to you,” he apologizes to Watson—but such cruel alienation is necessary. Holmes explains why: “I feared your affectionate regard for me should tempt you to some indiscretion which would betray my secret.”

6. Wait until your enemies are at their weakest to return.

With time, the fires of your enemies’ vengeance will cool, and their guard will fall. They may themselves die or be jailed (for such are dangers of the criminal life) and when they are at their most defenseless, as Holmes judged his to be shortly before his dramatic resurrection, it’s time to return home.

7. Minimize the shock to your friends and family.

When Holmes finally reveals himself to Watson, he does it in such a shocking way—which Holmes himself later confesses was “unnecessarily dramatic”—that poor Watson, a veteran of war and a man of sound constitution, faints on the spot. Imagine the effect such an appearance would have on the elderly or the anxious, and do your all to introduce yourself to them gradually. Save surprising flourishes for your enemies!



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Reader Comments (9)

I read this book one rainy afternoon and truly enjoyed it. I've been a Holmes fan for years and years, and I've read a great deal of the literature about the character, but this book was a fresh look for me.

March 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Everybody loves "how to" books. The sample chapter you provided is most intriguing!

August 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarbra Sundquist

Hi Ransom, I've got some weird photos you might be interested in. How do I send them to you? Some I've scanned from originals, some I found online.

October 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Feldstein

I read your Peculiar Children book and I thought it was amazing. I enjoyed reading it. I even decided this book was the best book I have read all year and I'm doing a project on it. I cant wait to get my hands on the next book! Your book trailers are terrific too! It makes me want to read the book so much. I was just wondering if you can post your address or give your email because I kind of need it for my project and cant seem to find them on the website. Dont worry about home issues. I live way far away from Los angeles. Thanks a bunch!

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRansom Riggs

i dont know when i will use it, but could come handy some day....

November 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpaula

We are a class at Birmingham Covington School in Michigan and we are reading Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. We have tried to contact you through your twitter account, but we can't have conversations with you unless you are following us. We would be very thankful if you followed our twitter account, which is GlobalBCS. Thank you for reading this!
~Global Literacy~

December 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGlobal Literacy Class

Hey so you should make a movie of Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar children. We are obsessed with the book and think it would make a great movie. Please Consider it!!!!

December 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRiley and Anna

When do you think your sequel to Ms. Perigrines Home for Peculiar Children will be out?

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany

I've loved the world of Sherlock Holmes for a very long time (long for me at least, I'm a teenager) and I got this as a gift last year. I absolutely loved it! I was at first afraid it would be rather dry but I was wrong and it was great. I remember thinking you had such a cool name.
I had seen Miss Peregrine's H for PC in bookstores but hadn't had the chance to buy it. Then I was watching vlogbrothers and heard your name and I was like WHAT THE PUCK (go Shakespeare!) THAT WAS RANSOM RIGGS?!?!?
I really ought to purchase that book now.

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSalem Harper Lewis

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