Conan Doyle for the Defense
The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer
Margalit Fox, Peter Forbes
“A wonderfully vivid portrait of the man behind Sherlock Holmes . . . Like all the best historical true crime books, it’s about so much more than crime.”—Tana French, author of In the Woods
A sensational Edwardian murder. A scandalous wrongful conviction. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the rescue—a true story.
After a wealthy woman was brutally murdered in her Glasgow home in 1908, the police found a convenient suspect in Oscar Slater, an immigrant Jewish cardsharp. Though he was known to be innocent, Slater was tried, convicted, and consigned to life at hard labor. Outraged by this injustice, Arthur Conan Doyle, already world renowned as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, used the methods of his most famous character to reinvestigate the case, ultimately winning Slater’s freedom.
With “an eye for the telling detail, a forensic sense of evidence and a relish for research” (The Wall Street Journal), Margalit Fox immerses readers in the science of Edwardian crime detection and illuminates a watershed moment in its history, when reflexive prejudice began to be replaced by reason and the scientific method.
Praise for Conan Doyle for the Defense
“Artful and compelling . . . [Fox’s] narrative momentum never flags. . . . Conan Doyle for the Defense will captivate almost any reader while being pure catnip for the devotee of true-crime writing.”—The Washington Post
“Developed with brio . . . [Fox] is excellent in linking the 19th-century creation of policing and detection with the development of both detective fiction and the science of forensics—ballistics, fingerprints, toxicology and serology—as well as the quasi science of ‘criminal anthropology.’”—The New York Times Book Review
“[Fox] has an eye for the telling detail, a forensic sense of evidence and a relish for research.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Gripping . . . The book works on two levels, much like a good Holmes case. First, it is a fluid story of a crime. . . . Second, and more pertinently, it is a deeper story of how prejudice against a class of people, the covering up of sloppy police work and a poisonous political atmosphere can doom an innocent. We should all heed Holmes’s salutary lesson: rationally follow the facts to find the truth.”—Time