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Would-be sleuths in Truro, Mass., are learning from a friendly local pediatrician that the art of detection is elementary.

Dr. Hyman Shrand, an avid fan of Sherlock Holmes, has been meeting with Truro Central School students every Wednesday morning since January to read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories about the world's most famous fictional detective, view classic Holmes movies, and share letters from Holmes fanciers from across the world.

Adorned in a deerstalker hat and a red Holmes sweatshirt, the 70-year-old retired physician shares with the 3rd through 6th graders his extensive array of Holmes collectibles, which includes 19 videotapes and more than 400 books in 40 different languages.

The students' response to him is overwhelming, says Pat Foley, a media specialist who arranges Dr. Shrand's visits.

"He is a charming individual who combines his love of the subject matter with his charm, wit, and love of children,'' Ms. Foley says.

Dr. Shrand, known as "Dr. Holmes'' to the students, encourages his charges to read the mysteries and apply their deductive and observational skills.

Together, the group has read two mysteries, and students have read others on their own; some, in fact, have read them all, Ms. Foley says.

Dr. Shrand's visits with "The Truro School Irregulars,'' as he has dubbed the students after the group of street urchins who helped Holmes, will end this week. But Ms. Foley says she hopes the students' involvement in mystery writing is just beginning.--R.J.

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