Call me slow but it was only about a quarter of the way through this book that I realised it was about Arthur Conan Doyle the author of Sherlock Holmes!
When I picked up this book I thought it was a going to be a good old mystery, which it most certainly is! But it also adds an excellent insight into the author of one of the best loved detectives. Or should I say consulting detective?
Arthur and George begins as two very separate stories.
One is about an impoverished young Scotsman working his way through education to eventually become a doctor. Then due to a lack of patients begins to write a novel. A novel that would make him and his characters famous.
The other is about the son of a vicar. A mixed race young man whose family is targeted by a malicious trickster. He works hard and becomes a solicitor. But this person pursues his family relentlessly. Any appeals to the police are met with a racist presumption that the son, George, is the culprit in this and other events.
Ultimately their paths cross when George is arrested and found guilty of a crime he did not commit. It doesn’t matter that there is absolutely no evidence. The inherent belief by the police that he must be guilty simply because of who he is results in conviction.
After serving three years in prison George is released on license. His career in tatters he cannot return to the law unless his name is cleared.
Arthur Conan Doyle is morning the loss of his first wife, while wrestling with the reality that his mistress will become his wife.
This mystery and miscarriage of justice is just what he needs to take his mind off things. So he comes to meet and help George.
By simple investigation is clear not only that George is innocent, but also that the police did absolutely no investigation. With Arthur’s input George is cleared off the crime and the criminals actually responsible brought to justice.
I really enjoyed this novel because it allowed great insight into the lives of the two main characters before bringing them together for the mystery. It was really well written, engaging and interesting.
It highlighted how society at the time looked at non-white people. George was mixed race and therefore must be guilty. Even when reporting a crime against himself he must be guilty of that crime.
Knowing little about Arthur Conan Doyle but loving Sherlock Holmes, I really enjoyed looking in the life of this author.
Overall a really great novel and one I would definitely recommend!
Have you read Arthur and George? Let me know what you think below!
Get it here: Arthur and George by Julian Barnes