Today’s mysteries take on new twist


Local News

July 6, 2018 - 11:00 PM

Iola Public Library

Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, campaigned vigorously for and eventually helped secure the release of a man wrongly convicted of murder. The story is told in “Conan Doyle for the Defense” by Margalit Fox. Oscar Slater, a German Jewish immigrant in Scotland, was sentenced to death in 1909. Slater was not an admirable character, but he was clearly not guilty of the murder. Doyle mimicked his celebrated sleuth’s methods in trying to clear Slater’s name. The book is far more than a true crime book. It ranges over topics such as the state of policing, detection and prisons at the time. Fox even uses excerpts from the Holmes stories to illustrate some points. It also serves as something of a biography of Doyle, who created one of literature’s most enduring characters but had his peculiarities.

Moving on to fiction, “Savage Liberty” by Eliot Pattison is a genre-blending novel, a trait that seems to be more common than it used to be. This book is a historical novel (set during the period leading up to the American Revolution), but also a whodunit-type mystery. Samuel Adams asks Duncan McCallum to use his medical knowledge to try to determine what killed Jonathan Pine. The incident may have some connection to a list of patriots being compiled by John Hancock.

In “The Bookshop of Yesterdays” by first-time author Amy Meyerson, Miranda Brooks inherits a bookshop from her Uncle Billy. As a child, she loved the shop and the inventive scavenger hunts her uncle would set up for her. When she was 12, a falling out occurred between Billy and Miranda’s parents, and Miranda didn’t see him for the last 16 years of his life. When she comes to the shop, now as owner, she finds that her uncle has set up clues for her, like the scavenger hunts of her childhood. This leads her to discover more about her family’s past and discover herself along the way.

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