George Edjali's father is Indian, his mother Scottish. When the family begins to receive vicious anonymous letters, many about their son, they put it down to racial prejudice. They appeal to the police, to no less than the Chief Constable, but to their dismay he appears to suspect George of being the letters' author. Then someone starts slashing horses and livestock. Again the police seem to suspect the shy, aloof Birmingham solicitor. He is arrested and, on the flimsiest evidence, sent to trial, found guilty and sentenced to seven years' hard labour.
Arthur Conan Doyle, famous as the creator of the world's greatest detective, is mourning his first wife (having been chastely in love for ten years with the woman who was to become his second) when he hears about the Edjali case. Incensed at this obvious miscarriage of justice, he is galvanised into trying to clear George's name. With a mixture of detailed research and vivid imagination, Julian Barnes brings to life not just this long-forgotten case, but the inner lives of these two very different men.
©2006 Julian Barnes; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
"Barnes sidelines his immense cleverness to pursue a more conventional but sweepingly ambitious whodunit. He transforms an obscure historical footnote...into a mesmerizing investigation of the Anglo-Saxon character." (Atlantic Monthly)
"Extraordinary.... First rate.... A cracking good yarn." (The New York Times Book)
"An absorbing fictional re-creation of a real-life detective story. . . . A finely evocative historical novel as well as a morally and psychologically astute glimpse into the worlds of two men." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
It only gets 4* overall because it is abridged. A good performance - it's difficult to pull off middle-class Edinburgh voices without sounding music hall comic, and the local Birmingham/Staffordshire accents sound snide and sinister, as their contributions to the tale would merit.
It is indeed a very English Dreyfus Affair, though fortunately Edalji "only" suffers 3 years hard labour, not solitary confinement on Devil's Island!!
Fascinating research made an astonishing story which enthralled. An in-depth look into the British legal system shows how little attitudes change over centuries. Ignited my interest in Sherlock Holmes mystery books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The story lends itself to adaptation too. I saw the play at the Birmingham Rep. a few years ago.
"Well-told unknown story"
The structure of the book: Arthur's & Geo's stories told chronologically but separately until their stories--& their lives--intersect.
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