Mysterious Circumstances: The Strange Death of a Sherlock Holmes Fanatic

In his article on Richard Lancelyn Green (the world’s foremost export on Sherlock Holmes), writer David Grann does an unbelievable job tracing the history of Green, Holmes, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Mysterious Circumstances: The Strange Death of a Sherlock Holmes Fanatic is a lengthy piece, but chock full of incredible details – and Grann makes it all seem digestible without overwhelming the reader.

There are so many bits of this story that are fascinating in and of themselves. As an example – did you know that Doyle actually helped to solve a real world murder?

Conan Doyle even helped in solving a case of a serial killer, after he spotted newspaper accounts in which two women had died in the same bizarre manner: the victims were recent brides, who had “accidentally” drowned in their bathtubs.

Also – at a later point in his life, did you know that Doyle began believing in fairies and psychics? To the point where he opened up The Psychic Bookshop in London?

In an essay by Green, reflecting on Doyle’s belief in the supernatural, he had this gem:

It is hard to understand how a man who had stood for sound common sense and healthy attitudes could sit in darkened rooms watching for ectoplasm.

And as fascinating as all these these tidbits are, the main story revolves around Green, a guarded set of Doyle’s papers, Conan Doyle’s heirs, an auction at Christie’s, a mention of a threatening American, an odd voice on an answering machine… and the ultimate death of Richard Lancelyn Green.

Who was garroted. And whose death could have been a murder. Or perhaps a suicide.

This really is a compelling read, and worth digging into.

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