The Ardlamont Mystery: The Real-Life Story Behind the Creation of Sherlock Holmes

Daniel Smith. Michael O’Mara, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-78243-845-8
Despite the misleading subtitle, Smith (How to Think like Sherlock: Improve Your Powers of Observation, Memory and Deduction) provides the definitive look at a sensational homicide case. In 1893, six years after Conan Doyle’s first Holmes story was published, three men went out for a morning hunt on the Ardlamont Estate in Argyll, Scotland, and only two returned. Cecil Hambrough, a 20-year-old Army lieutenant, was killed by a shot in the back of the head, and one of his companions, Alfred Monson, who was retained by Hambrough’s family to tutor him, asserted that Cecil had shot himself. Suspicions quickly developed that Monson murdered his charge; he and his wife owned two policies insuring Cecil’s life, and just the evening before, Cecil almost died when the boat he was in, along with Monson, almost sank. The prosecution’s witnesses included “two pioneers of forensic science,” Dr. Joseph Bell and Dr. Henry Littlejohn, who were both significant influences on Conan Doyle’s fictional detective. Making use of extensive archival research, Smith presents the inquiry, trial, and its aftermath with just the right amount of detail. Sherlockians and true crime buffs alike will be intrigued. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/11/2019
Release date: 04/30/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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