Book review: Conan Doyle for the Defense

Conan Doyle for the DefenseConan 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
Random House

Genre: Nonfiction/True crime/History/Biography
352 pages


This brilliant nonfiction reads like a thriller, both because of its topic and because of the writer’s skill at structuring her story.

Conan Doyle for the Defense is about what was supposedly  “one of the most notorious murders of its age”, a bit like a “Scottish Dreyfus affair”.

A case all too common: a rich old woman was robbed and killed in Glasgow, and for various reasons explained in the book, the police targeted Oscar Slater, a German Jewish gambler, even though they soon had evidence he could not have done it.
“An innocent man was pursued, tried, convicted, and nearly hanged”, a “supreme example of official incompetence and obstinacy”, of “judicial and prosecutorial misconduct.” A “disgraceful frame-up, in which stupidity and dishonesty played an equal part.” Nothing new under the sun…

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