Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Book Review: THE MAN WHO CREATED SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE by Andrew Lycett (Free Press, 2008)
Arthur Conan Doyle and his most famous creation will be thrust back into the public eye this Christmas with the release of the big-budget Robert Downey Jr. vehicle Sherlock Holmes. It seemed like a good time to read a Doyle biography that I've long had on my "to peruse" list. John Dickson Carr's "authorized" 1949 biography is lively and still repays reading today, but Andrew Lycett's tale is denser, if drier, drawing heavily upon documents not available to Carr. Holmes and Watson aren't really the main focal point here; Lycett gives the duo their due, but he's every bit as interested in describing Doyle's other works, discussing the author's gradual absorption in the world of spiritualism, and detailing the doings of Doyle's extended family and circle of friends. The author's homework is appreciated, but I still prefer Carr's somewhat more loosely wound bio for its sheer readability. I just picked up another Doyle bio at the Stevenson library and should be getting to it soon.