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When Arthur Conan Doyle cried “J’Accuse…!”

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Conan Doyle for the Defence. By Margalit Fox. Random House; 352 pages; $27. Profile; £16.99.

TOWARDS the end of the 19th century a patient appeared before a doctor and his students in a Scottish hospital. The doctor, Joseph Bell, eyes bright above a hawk nose, addressed him. “You came from Liberton,” he said. “You drive two horses, one grey, one bay; you are probably employed by a brewery.” To the awe of his students, the sharp-eyed doctor was right on all counts.

The sharp-eyed reader will have guessed the identity of one of his acolytes: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (pictured left). It is well known that Conan Doyle borrowed Bell’s deductive genius (and his profile) for his fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. Less well known is that Conan Doyle also used Bell’s methods to solve real-life crimes. One such crime—a murder—is the subject of Margalit Fox’s new book, “Conan Doyle for the Defence”.

Conan Doyle had…Continue reading

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