The Real Sherlock Holmes by Joe Riggs is a small 71 pages. Don’t let that deceive you. As a working mentalist, I was already familiar with the majority of the material covered. My performance experience has also lead to dozens and dozens of conversations with people from all walks of life who have questions about Psychics, Tarot readings, Witchcraft and Human Behavior. It is a fine line that we walk. One the one hand, I make my living employing the same methods as the psychics do, however, I also very opening inform my audiences that I’m an performer, not a psychic. Even after laying that out in the open, I still have people who can’t get past the idea that maybe I am ‘special’ in some sort of way. I take comfort knowing that I’m in good company. Harry Houdini ran into the same issue with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Before we dig into the content of the book, I have to say, that I am a fan of Joe Rigg’s work. He is a brilliant example of the potential capacity of the human brain.


The Real Sherlock Holmes will not add much new knowledge for a veteran performer. I don’t believe that was Riggs’ goal. The value of this little book is for that curious soul who wonders if it’s all real. In the first 16 pages, Joe Riggs lays bare many of the age-old tactics of mediums, phone-psychics and fortune-tellers. In no uncertain terms, he exposes their methods and scams. I would highly recommend this section to anyone who has ever sought the skills of a purported psychic. Riggs is sharp and concise on the topics of Cold Reading, Hot Reading and THE SCAM. As he describes in the introduction, his own mother was a telephone psychic. He knows their ways better than most. The best protection is knowledge.

In some ways, this could have been two books. The first half exposes the scams of psychical frauds, and the second half is all about personal improvement. The two are barely related.

The latter sections of the book are dedicated to methods of enhancing one’s mental capacities. Covered quickly, but with adequate detail is the Memory Palace and it history, Phonetic encoding and a few more techniques anyone could benefit from. The Memory Palace section alone is priceless. This is a long-lost memory technique that was once taught to every student in elementary schools. Today, it has been discarded to the fringes. While the description in the book is brief, it is adequate to get you started. Riggs does expand on the topic in his blog.

The topic of deduction and observation also serves as a good reminder not to prejudge. The real world application of this concept is very important, but exceptionally difficult. Sherlock Holmes was written as a character with no emotional connection who was able to take in all of his surroundings without jumping to conclusions. It is definitely an attainable goal for the dedicated student, but like the memory palace and NLP (below) it requires a great deal of commitment and study.

I felt that this latter portion of the book, while larger, was more surface level knowledge. The coverage of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) was brief at best. The controversial behavioral psychology field has been widely debated and largely debunked from a clinical standpoint. From a performer's perspective, NLP can be highly useful. The idea of anchoring can very deftly be employed in many ways by the magician. I routinely have good success with these subliminal suggestions in my performances. I would encourage the casual reader to seek more in depth coverage of NLP before trying to work with it in the real world.

All told, The Real Sherlock Holmes is a very good introduction to the odd world of psychics and mental specialists. There is a multitude of topics touched on, and it acts as a gateway for the inquiring mind. Throughout the book, Joe Riggs offers suggestions for further reading. I’m looking forward to more in depth publications by Mr. Riggs on many of these topics.
If you’re curious about the mental methods employed by Sherlock Holmes or those used by real-life scam artists, I would highly recommend The Real Sherlock Holmes.

For more information on Riggs and his work, visit his WEBSITE