Cover image for The true crime files of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The true crime files of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Doyle, Arthur Conan, 1859-1930.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Berkley Prime Crime, 2001.
Physical Description:
viii, 290 pages ; 24 cm
Case of George Ernest Thompson Edalji -- The case of Oscar Slater.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6943 .D69 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
HV6943 .D69 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the legendary author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, got involved with two actual criminal cases and published his observations. Here, "literary prospector" Stephen Hines and Edgar Award-winning author Steven Womack present these cases-"The Case of George Ernest Thompson Edalji" and "The Case of Oscar Slater"-with newly rediscovered original source material and an introduction that places them in the context of Doyle's life.

Author Notes

The most famous fictional detective in the world is Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. However, Doyle was, at best, ambivalent about his immensely successful literary creation and, at worst, resentful that his more "serious" fiction was relatively ignored. Born in Edinburgh, Doyle studied medicine from 1876 to 1881 and received his M.D. in 1885. He worked as a military physician in South Africa during the Boer War and was knighted in 1902 for his exceptional service. Doyle was drawn to writing at an early age. Although he attempted to enter private practice in Southsea, Portsmouth, in 1882, he soon turned to writing in his spare time; it eventually became his profession. As a Liberal Unionist, Doyle ran, unsuccessfully, for Parliament in 1903. During his later years, Doyle became an avowed spiritualist.

Doyle sold his first story, "The Mystery of the Sasassa Valley," to Chambers' Journal in 1879. When Doyle published the novel, A Study in Scarlet in 1887, Sherlock Holmes was introduced to an avid public. Doyle is reputed to have used one of his medical professors, Dr. Joseph Bell, as a model for Holmes's character. Eventually, Doyle wrote three additional Holmes novels and five collections of Holmes short stories. A brilliant, though somewhat eccentric, detective, Holmes employs scientific methods of observation and deduction to solve the mysteries that he investigates. Although an "amateur" private detective, he is frequently called upon by Scotland Yard for assistance. Holmes's assistant, the faithful Dr. Watson, provides a striking contrast to Holmes's brilliant intellect and, in Doyle's day at least, serves as a character with whom the reader can readily identify. Having tired of Holmes's popularity, Doyle even tried to kill the great detective in "The Final Problem" but was forced by an outraged public to resurrect him in 1903. Although Holmes remained Doyle's most popular literary creation, Doyle wrote prolifically in other genres, including historical adventure, science fiction, and supernatural fiction. Despite Doyle's sometimes careless writing, he was a superb storyteller. His great skill as a popular author lay in his technique of involving readers in his highly entertaining adventures.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Following the success of Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle himself was much sought after as a consultant in real-life mysteries. Doyle never became fully involved in actual sleuthing, except for two cases. In campaigns that will remind readers of contemporary investigative efforts to free Death Row inmates, Doyle wrote a series of newspaper articles defending George Edalji, an East Indian believed to have performed animal sacrifices, and a book defending Glaswegian Oscar Slater, convicted of murdering his wife. The bulk of this volume consists of Doyle's journalistic campaign in the Daily Telegraph on behalf of Edalji, whose case excited tremendous controversy (responses from the public and the Home Office are included). In the much shorter part 2, editor Hines presents excerpts from Doyle's treatise on the wrongful conviction of Oscar Slater. Edgar-winning author Steven Womack provides an insightful introduction to Doyle's life and these two cases. For Conan Doyle aficionados and scholarly true-crime buffs. --Connie Fletcher