This vivid biography, written by John Dickson Carr, benefits from his full access to the archives of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to his notebooks, diaries, press clippings, and voluminous correspondence. Like his creation Sherlock Holmes, Doyle had "a horror of destroying documents," and they accumulated to vast amount throughout his house at Windlesham. They provide many of the words incorporated by Carr in this portrayal of Doyle's forays into politics, his infatuation with spiritualism, his literary ambitions, and dinner-table conversations with friends like H. G. Wells and King Edward VII.
Carr, then, in a sense collabourates with his subject to unfold a colourful narrative that takes Doyle from his school days at Stonyhurst to Edinburgh University and a medical practice at Southsea, where he conceived the idea of wedding scientific study to criminal investigation in the fictive person of Sherlock Holmes. It also explores the private tragedy of Doyle's first marriage and long-delayed second as it follows him into the arena of public activity, propaganda, and literary output that would win him both celebrity and a knighthood.