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
Narrated by: Peter Forbes
Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (81 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“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. 

After a wealthy woman was brutally murdered in her Glasgow home in 1908, the police found a convenient suspect in Oscar Slater, an immigrant Jewish cardsharp. Though he was known to be innocent, Slater was tried, convicted, and consigned to life at hard labor. Outraged by this injustice, Arthur Conan Doyle, already world renowned as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, used the methods of his most famous character to reinvestigate the case, ultimately winning Slater’s freedom.

With “an eye for the telling detail, a forensic sense of evidence and a relish for research” (The Wall Street Journal), Margalit Fox immerses listeners in the science of Edwardian crime detection and illuminates a watershed moment in its history, when reflexive prejudice began to be replaced by reason and the scientific method.

Praise for Conan Doyle for the Defense:

“Artful and compelling...[Fox’s] narrative momentum never flags....Conan Doyle for the Defense will captivate almost any reader while being pure catnip for the devotee of true-crime writing.” (The Washington Post)

“Developed with brio...[Fox] is excellent in linking the 19th-century creation of policing and detection with the development of both detective fiction and the science of forensics - ballistics, fingerprints, toxicology and serology - as well as the quasi science of ‘criminal anthropology.’” (The New York Times Book Review)

“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)

©2018 Margalit Fox (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Expertly constructed, this work will appeal to Conan Doyle fans and is ideal for all true crime collections." (Library Journal)

"[Margalit] Fox...does her own detective work in unpicking the opposing personalities and careers of her protagonists.... Like a good murder mystery, Conan Doyle for the Defense is a fast-paced read that twists and turns with the panache of a Holmes short story." (The Times)

"A brisk account of the celebrated novelist's campaign to overturn a controversial murder conviction...[Fox's] extensive research into turn-of-the-century Scotland results in enlightening chapters about the era's tensions, such as the battle between ancient bigotries and a surging faith in scientific inquiry." (Star Tribune)

What listeners say about Conan Doyle for the Defense

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    5 out of 5 stars

Very interesting story. Great performance.

This is a very interesting book. Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle and True-Crime fans are likely to be especially interested. The performance is first-rate, with excellent voices and accents adding to the atmosphere. Not only is a complex story deftly told, but you also get a lot of insight into how crime was understood, or often misunderstood, in this era. One of the best books I have listened to in a long time.

4 people found this helpful

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Very interesting listen!

I really enjoyed this. It gave great insight into A. Conan Doyle and his methods and principles.

2 people found this helpful

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Conan Doyle for the Defense

Qudos to Margalit Fox and well read by Peter Forbes. A fascinating window into the Victorian views of the time, and into the multi-dimensional career of Conan Doyle.

2 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

Sadly I found this mostly boring! Even Conan-Doyle’s fans might just skip this one.

1 person found this helpful

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CrackerJack Story

True crime plus historical detail. Well researched and full of interesting facts. Loved the book.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Book. Awful accents.

Wonderfully written nonfiction. A fascinating look at the time, place, and people. Incredibly distracting narration. Why must Brits always assume they can pull off an American accent? 90% of the time it comes across as either mockery or pastiche.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating real life case for Sherlock's creator

I bought this title a while back because it intrigued me. Listening to the recent Audible Original documentary on Conan Doyle, I returned to listen. This is a fascinating book which gives more insight into Conan Doyle, the Victorian legal system, and the prejudices of the day. The book is well organized and I found myself racing through the title, gripped in its power. Highly recommended.

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margalit fox delivers

one of my favorite writers on one of my favorite topics! and the narrator fit the story perfectly. his voices were excellent and made quotes easy to pick out. as with _the riddle of the labyrinth_, i love how fox told an old story in newly interwoven way. absolutely recommend!

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Disappointing

I am a mystery lover and addicted to Audible- the Scottish accent made this difficult to listen to and the story was weak.

1 person found this helpful