A little while back, I attempted to read a book called Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye: The World's Greatest Detective Tackles the Bible's Ultimate Mysteries, by Len Bailey. I had received a free copy of the book from the blogger program that used to be called Booksneeze.com. (They are now called BookLook Bloggers.) The idea behind the program is, bloggers receive free books or ebooks, in exchange for writing a review on their blog and on a commercial site (such as Amazon.com). I'm afraid I never wrote that review, because I simply could not get through this awful book.
The basic premise, as described in the publisher's own blurb, is this: "The detective and the doctor travel back in time with the help of a Moriarty-designed time machine to investigate ten Bible destinations, unlocking clues to ten Bible mysteries." Some readers may say right off the bat, "Sounds awful...why would you read it?" Good question. I'm interested in the Bible, I'm interested in Sherlock Holmes (I write blogs on both subjects)...the book combines a couple of my main interests. I soon regretted my decision.
Even if we agree to suspend disbelief concerning the "time machine" portion of the plot AND expand that suspension of disbelief to accept the idea that Holmes and Watson would be able to understand what was going on in an ancient culture in an ancient language...even if we agree to those pretty big "ifs," the Holmes and Watson portrayed in the pages of Bailey's book are almost completely unlike the characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes and Watson are quoting Scripture left and right, speaking in a slightly Anglicized version of typical modern evangelical "Christianese." Meanwhile, the book purports to be "solving" Biblical mysteries such as "Why did David choose five stones?" or "What did Jesus write on the ground in John 8?" I question the necessity of answering such questions, and I am highly skeptical of any Bible study which purports to have "deduced" the answers to said questions.
The amazing thing to me is that I have read several very positive reviews of the book on Goodreads and Amazon.com. Even more amazing is that at least one positive review came from a person who was avowedly not a Christian. I expect fans of Christian literature to be a bit undiscriminating when they read Christian literature: I've encountered such things too many times before to be surprised by that. But I did not expect a non-Christian Holmes fan to actually enjoy what I found painful to read, both from a Sherlockian viewpoint and from a Christian viewpoint.
I am interested in knowing if any of my readers have encountered Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye, and if so, what they thought of it. Meanwhile, it may interest readers to see this article on Huffington Post by the author Len Bailey, in which he explains why he decided to use Doyle's characters for his book. I'm still not convinced, but at least he seems to have thought it out.
I'm a stay-at-home dad, and Director of Music Ministries at a United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN. And a longtime fan of Sherlock Holmes.