The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Reader: From Sherlock Holmes...

Editor's Choice

May 05, 2002|By Michael Pakenham

The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Reader: From Sherlock Holmes to Spiritualism, edited by Jeffrey Meyers and Valerie Meyers (Cooper Square Press, 540 pages, $28.95).

This is a generous and imaginative selection of works by the inventor of Sherlock Holmes -- and, though others are sometimes credited, the enduring detective-story genre. There are 18 pieces in all, including Part I of A Study in Scarlet and several other Holmes stories. But, at least for anyone who has read all of Dr. Watson's accounts at least one time, the really interesting stuff is nonfiction -- Doyle was an esteemed journalist. There are accounts from the Boer War and World War I. There is a long and, I found, fascinating condemnation of Belgium's conquest and abuse of the Congo as "the greatest [crime] which has ever been known in human annals." A firm believer in spiritualism in later life, Doyle wrote extensively on it, and some solid -- if weird -- examples appear here. A must for the inveterate Holmes fan, but fascination to almost anyone who has found interesting the British world of a century past.

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