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
By: Margalit Fox
In 1908 an elderly woman was brutally murdered in her Glasgow apartment. The police found a convenient but innocent suspect in Oscar Slater— a Jewish cardsharp— who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, already the world-famous creator of Sherlock Holmes, was outraged by this injustice and became obsessed with the case. Over the years he scoured trial transcripts, newspaper accounts, and police diaries, meticulously noting myriad holes and inconsistencies. Finally, in 1927, his work won Slater's freedom. Conan Doyle for the Defense immerses readers in the science of Edwardian crime detection, telling the story of how Conan Doyle managed to get this murder conviction overturned by employing the methods of his most famous creation. Along the way, Fox illuminates a watershed moment in the history of criminal justice when reflexive prejudice began gradually to be replaced by reason and the scientific method.