Temple Beth Israel's Sunday Morning Seminar welcomes Margalit Fox, author of 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.
About the Book:
In 1893, the world was shocked to learn of the death of one of its heroes: Detective Sherlock Holmes had fallen off of a cliff while battling his arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty. Holmes’s creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, had tired of the character, and killed him off in the story “The Final Problem.” His death was met with such widespread backlash, however, that Doyle revived him. The public’s thirst to read about the brilliant British detective and his adventures has barely waned since. In this captivating tale, Fox traces the development of Doyle’s career — including the fact that once his literary creation became so famous, requests flooded in for him to solve actual mysteries — through his efforts on behalf of Slater. In a particularly cinematic instance, a letter smuggled out of prison in a fake tooth seals Slater’s freedom. Fox’s writing, clearly honed by her years writing obituaries, effortlessly balances expertly-researched historical and archival data with the pathos and emotional nuance of any great drama. Like a classic Holmes yarn, Conan Doyle for the Defense is full of shady underworld characters, thievery, inept police officers, and a mystery whose historical setting belies its deep relevance to our own era.
"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
"Splendid . . . The ingredients are too good to pass up: a famous detective novelist actually playing detective, a man serving time for a murder he did not commit, and a criminal justice system slowly, and reluctantly, reckoning with the advent of forensic science." --Sarah Weinman, The New Republic
About the Author:
A retired senior writer at The New York Times, Margalit Fox is considered one the foremost explanatory writers and literary stylists in American journalism. As a longtime member of the newspaper’s celebrated Obituary News Department, she has written the front-page public sendoffs of some of the leading cultural figures of our age. (Conan Doyle for the Defense is in many ways a fond belated obituary — for the long-overlooked Oscar Slater, an immigrant Everyman treated inexcusably by history.) Fox’s previous book, The Riddle of the Labyrinth, won the William Saroyan Prize for International Writing. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, the writer and critic George Robinson.
“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.