More than 30 years ago, Margalit Fox read in a book that Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the most famous fictional detective in history, had successfully investigated a real-life murder. Fox thought: “Why on earth wasn’t this case better known?”
On this week’s podcast, Fox discusses her new book, “Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer.”
The man wrongly charged in the case, Oscar Slater, was a convenient target for authorities, who wanted to run him out of town. Slater was also unlucky in the timing of the case.
“What we would consider to be modern invesitgative forensics,” Fox says, “did not even begin to come into its own until the 1930s and 1940s. So one of the great, great tragedies of the Oscar Slater case is, had this whole thing happened 25 or 30 years later, it might have produced a very different outcome.”
Fox, a recently retired obituaries writer for The New York Times, also talks about how her previous job helped prepare her to write this book.
Additionally on this week’s episode, Tina Jordan, an editor at the Book Review, discusses this season’s thrillers; and Dwight Garner, Parul Sehgal and Jennifer Szalai talk about the books they’ve recently reviewed. Pamela Paul is the host.
Here are the books discussed by The Times’s critics this week:
“Interior” by Thomas Clerc
“Jell-O Girls” by Allie Rowbottom
“Candy” by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg
We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to email@example.com.
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