By Will Boisvert
Updated November 08, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

The Case of Emily V.

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  • Book

After a proper young lady shoves her lecherous guardian off a cliff, she is psychoanalyzed by Sigmund Freud and investigated by Sherlock Holmes. Is Emily a victim, a murderess, a spy, or a latent lesbian? The Case of Emily V., Keith Oatley’s period whydunit, draws intriguing parallels between shrink and sleuth — both deduce hidden character from subtle clues — and deepens Victorian melodrama with murky neuroses: ”[D]amnable nonsense, which I profoundly resent,” yelps Holmes when Freud diagnoses his narcissism and father issues. A pitch-perfect pastiche of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories and Freud’s case studies, but a bit too clinical to be emotionally compelling.

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The Case of Emily V.

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