I’ve been a fan of Sherlock Holmes through his many permutations, from Basil Rathbone to Robert Downey Jr., from Arthur Conan Doyle to Laurie R. King’s novels of the wife of Sherlock Holmes, so when I caught this title on an NPR interview this morning I stopped to listen: The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World’s Most Perplexing Cold Cases, by Michael Capuzzo.
Capuzzo writes about the Vidocq Society, a group of 82 full members (and 150 associates), all experts in the field of crime solving, who meet once a month over lunch in Philidelphia to discuss and work on solving cold cases.
Why 82? Because that is how many years their namesake, the French detective, Eugene Francois Vidocq (1775-1857) lived. Vidocq was a a former criminal, “a kind of Willie Sutton,” who made a deal with the police to help them fight crime. In the process, he founded the first private detective agency, and inspired the stories of Conan Doyle and others.
According to Capuzzo, the Vidocq Society had an initial academic focus, the way people still put forth new theories on the identity of Jack the Ripper, but after a New York Times interview, they decided to turn their talents to working on cases where resolution is possible. Members of various police departments as well as friends and family of victims are invited to the lunch meetings, and acccording to Capuzzo, the considerable talents of these sleuths has resulted in closing some old cases (he did not say how many in the interview).
Anyway, the story is worth a listen and the book looks to be an interestingread for those with mystery and CSI type interests.