Princeton University Press, $19.95, 210 pages
If you’ve read Sherlock Holmes mysteries, then it will come as no surprise to you that someone has written On Conan Doyle: or, The Whole Art of Storytelling, which is essentially a fan letter to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. You already know how expertly Doyle can spin a tale of intrigue, but Doyle’s use of language is exquisite and worth reading for its own sake. If you aren’t familiar with Doyle, then this book will show you what you’re missing. Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Michael Dirda begins by sharing his experience of reading the classic, The Hound of the Baskervilles, as a fifth grader, which launched his life-long devotion to all things Doyle.
Dirda opens up a whole new world of Doyle by guiding the reader through his lesser-known works. Doyle was prolific in mystery but also wrote science fiction, essays and was deeply interested in spiritualism. Throughout the book, Dirda shares his joy and excitement throughout his life at discovering new Doyle facts. Dirda has been such an outspoken fan that in 2002 he was inducted into the exclusive Sherlock society, The Baker Street Irregulars. If you aren’t already a Doyle fan, this book will turn you into one.