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Conan Doyle for the Defense
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
17 posts | 11 read | 30 to read
In this thrilling true-crime procedural, the creator of Sherlock Holmes uses his unparalleled detective skills to exonerate a German Jew wrongly convicted of murder. For all the scores of biographies of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the most famous detective in the world, there is no recent book that tells this remarkable story—in which Conan Doyle becomes a real-life detective on an actual murder case. In Conan Doyle for the Defense, Margalit Fox takes us step by step inside Conan Doyle’s investigative process and illuminates a murder mystery that is also a morality play for our time—a story of ethnic, religious, and anti-immigrant bias. In 1908, a wealthy woman was brutally murdered in her Glasgow home. The police found a convenient suspect in Oscar Slater—an immigrant Jewish cardsharp—who, despite his obvious innocence, was tried, convicted, and consigned to life at hard labor in a brutal Scottish prison. Conan Doyle, already world famous as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was outraged by this injustice and became obsessed with the case. Using the methods of his most famous character, he scoured trial transcripts, newspaper accounts, and eyewitness statements, meticulously noting myriad holes, inconsistencies, and outright fabrications by police and prosecutors. Finally, in 1927, his work won Slater’s freedom. Margalit Fox, a celebrated longtime writer for The New York Times, has “a nose for interesting facts, the ability to construct a taut narrative arc, and a Dickens-level gift for concisely conveying personality” (Kathryn Schulz, New York). In Conan Doyle for the Defense, she immerses readers in the science of Edwardian crime detection and illuminates a watershed moment in the history of forensics, when reflexive prejudice began to be replaced by reason and the scientific method. Advance praise for Conan Doyle for the Defense “I cannot speak too highly of this remarkable book, which entirely captivated me with its rich attention to detail, its intelligence and elegant phrasing, and, most of all, its nail-biting excitement.”—Simon Winchester, author of The Perfectionists and The Professor and the Madman “Fox brings to life a forgotten cause célèbre in this page-turning account of how mystery writer–turned–real life sleuth Arthur Conan Doyle helped exonerate a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder. . . . The author’s exhaustive research and balanced analysis make this a definitive account, with pertinent repercussions for our times.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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BookishMarginalia
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Another one of the books I‘m #CurrentlyReading — fascinating so far!

Ericalambbrown This sounds fascinating! 1mo
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CoffeeK8
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Pickpick

A really fascinating look at how Conan Doyle used his skill in detection to free an innocent man. #audiobook

Leelee08 I just finished reading this. I really liked it!🤓 2mo
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Leelee08
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This is awesome—Edwardian lingo for “pimp.”😂 This true-crime book about a 1908 Glasgow murder that Conan Doyle help solve is turning out to be a great read.🖤🕵🏻‍♂️🎩 🔍

MayJasper 😂 I like it 3mo
Suet624 😂😂😂 3mo
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Leelee08
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Hooray for book mail!📚🥳📫

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NotCool
Pickpick

Conan Doyle always seemed a little dull to me, not as clever as Sherlock, or the man the character was based on, Dr Bell, and deeply into spiritualism. But this redeems him. It shows an imperfect man who was concerned with justice and honor. It‘s also a Victorian true crime that shows how issues of class and bias affect attempts at justice.

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Niki_Todaro
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Totally engrossed in this book.... and this taco so far. 🌮🍺📚

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Lea
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Pickpick

This was interesting. I love Sherlock Holmes but haven‘t read a lot on ACD. I didn‘t realize he solved real crimes as well as writing crime fiction. It was well written and researched. I enjoyed it. #readwomen

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TheBookDream
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This is good so far, but wordy. Waiting for the lock picking class to start. #underemployedadventures

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BrainyHeroine
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"The true story of a sensational British murder, a quest for justice, and the worlds most famous detective writer." Starting one of my birthday books and enjoying the nonfiction kick. Also enjoying my pumpkin spice coffee from my #covertocover mug

Christine I‘m already thinking about pumpkin spice myself... 10mo
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crazyspine
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Nothing says a beach vacay like a book and seafood. Just need a glass of wine.

BookBridget Yum! 10mo
71 likes1 comment
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crazyspine
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Mehso-so

I loved the idea behind the story, and it was obvious that Fox put a painstaking amount of research into the story. My only criticism is that it's written as a traditional nonfiction text. I'm so used to narrative nonfiction that it was difficult for me to read this writing style for so long. I would recommend to any ACD fans as well as historical nonfiction lovers.

DrexEdit This is one book I've been eyeing for a while. Ever since I watched a documentary about New York Times obituary writers. Margalit Fox is one and she intrigued me. Been wanting to try out her writing! 😊 10mo
crazyspine @DrexEdit Definitely try it. She's a great writer; it's just a style that was a little too high brow for me personally. 10mo
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rabbitprincess
Pickpick

For those who like historical true crime and/or Sherlock Holmes, this is a good book. You may also like it if you liked Arthur & George, which also features real-life detection by Conan Doyle.

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rabbitprincess
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I laughed way too hard at the "quotidian gossip" Oscar Slater's mum included in her letters to him: "Yes! It is quite correct Mrs. Lechtenstein has a big wart with long hair on her face". I think it's the "Yes!" at the beginning that really sells it ?

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crazyspine
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Reading this on a cloudy day while wearing my Sherlock Holmes socks. Really interesting so far

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Jen2
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Pickpick

Really good!

rabbitprincess Yay, I have this one out from the library 😊 11mo
JazzFeathers This sounds interesting. 11mo
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crazyspine
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This sounds really interesting, but it's not getting any Litsy love. Anybody else hear good things or anything at all about this one?

vivastory I thought it sounded intriguing 12mo
jmofo I might give it a go...if my library had it or a favorite reader does the audio book. 12mo
Deangirl I read an ARC of this one. My review is now posted to this version. 12mo
Librarybelle I checked it out recently from the library - maybe I‘ll bump it up on my reading list! 12mo
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Deangirl
Pickpick

What a fascinating book about a true crime investigation that went shockingly awry. The book is a thorough examination of the case within the culture of late Victorian/early twentieth century Scotland. Recommended to anyone who liked true crime reads.

Thanks to NetGalley and publishers, Serpent‘s Tail/Profile Books, for the opportunity to review an ARC. Rating: 4 🌟

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