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Mr. Doyle and Dr. Bell Hardcover – July 15, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Canadian Engel's serviceable venture into the Sherlock Holmes genre suffers by comparison to David Pirie's The Patient's Eyes (2002), likewise substituting a young Arthur Conan Doyle and his real-life mentor, Dr. Joseph Bell, for Watson and Holmes. When a beautiful opera singer and her lover are found brutally slain, suspicion falls on Alan Lambert, "a man of good family fallen upon evil days," whose brother asks Bell for assistance. As the doctor and his protege race the clock to save Lambert from the gallows, Edinburgh's power elite impedes their efforts at every turn. Undeterred, the pair persists in exploring numerous avenues of inquiry that the police have ignored or discounted. While the period details ring true and Bell is a convincing master detective, with his deductions based on careful observation and encyclopedic knowledge, his personality remains far less developed than that of Pirie's hero. Similarly, Engel barely alludes to Doyle's well-documented family difficulties, which provided Pirie with ample grist for making the future creator of Sherlock Holmes sympathetic and complex. Moreover, the murderer's identity will come as less than a surprise to most readers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Mr. Engel is a born writer, a natural stylist . . . This is a writer who can bring a character to life in a few lines. (Ruth Rendell) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Victorian Mysteries (Overlook)
  • Hardcover: 268 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; First Edition edition (July 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585674176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585674176
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,744,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Berner VINE VOICE on August 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read this almost immediately upon completing David Pirie's "The Night Calls", another novel that uses the characters of Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Joseph Bell as "real-life" stand-ins for Doyle's illustrious Sherlock Holmes, and the variations are fascinating.
Whereas Pirie paints a dark moodish piece with all of his characters (including the leads) as sombre, haunted individuals caught in a web of horror and intrigue, Engel's picture is bright, snappy, and breezy (or as much so as possible given that it details a wrongly convicted man facing the gallows). Pirie is rich in minute detail and atmosphere, Engel skips from scene to scene, plot point to plot point, like a runner trying to break the hundrde yard dash. In sum, I must confess that Pirie's book, the second in his Doyle/Bell series, is much more literary and engrossing but Engel's, originally published in paperback in 1997, is simply, a lot more fun. As they say in the ads though; "even better, try them both!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jack Maybrick on April 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Arthur Conan Doyle's inspiration for Sherlock Holmes really did come from one of his mentors at Edinburgh University, Dr. Joseph Bell, a surgeon who discerned amazing information from strangers by observing minute details about them.
While Doyle came to weary of his association with the world's most famous literary detective, he shared many of Holmes's qualities, including the abilities of observation and deduction learned from Dr. Bell, and he actually did lend his efforts to the consideration of real-life mysteries from his own time.
Howard Engel's novel is a clever tribute to Doyle, his mentor, and his creation. He ingeniously sets his murder mystery not in London, as might be supposed, but in Edinburgh and even more ingeniously (but inevitably, given the pecking order between Doyle and his professor) makes the youthful Doyle play Watson to Bell's Holmes. Gratefully, Bell is a little less brusque with minds less active than his own than is Holmes.
Most ingeniously of all, the murder mystery that Mr. Doyle and Dr. Bell are called upon to solve is based upon a genuinely celebrated murder case from Doyle's mature years that Doyle played a principal role in resolving - though again, in this setting, as a student in the year 1879, he plays an acolyte's role.
Which murder case? I leave it to the reader to see if he recognizes it from the book, if he doesn't recognize it already. Engel himself provides the answer in his afterword.
I am only familiar with one other novel in which this device is used and that would be Bruce Alexander's "Person or Persons Unknown", the fourth in Alexander's Sir John Fielding Series, in which the Jack-the-Ripper slayings are moved backward 100 years in time from the late 19th century to the late 18th century.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Steinborn on September 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Another author (in addition to David Pirie) has chosen the Conan Doyle - Joseph Bell relationship as the basis for a novel. The story hangs together well, and the book is well written, after the reader gets past a few glaring problems - primarily the misinterpretation of Arthur Conan Doyle's name. Conan Doyle is a Welsh surname, and I doubt seriously anyone would ever seriously call him 'Conan'. Joseph Bell as the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes is well documented, and this conjectural work provides an interesting look at how it may have worked to influence Conan Doyle.
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By Ken on July 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This book explores the relationship between Arthur Conan Doyle and his mentor at University of Edinburgh, Dr Joseph Bell. Bell is notably an inspiration for ACD in his creation of the character of Sherlock Holmes.

In this book, Bell, with Doyle playing his eager Watson-esque assistant, attempts to prove the innocence of a condemned man and ends up sideways with the Scottish police and the Scottish justice system. The case is based on a true story that occurred some years after the times of ACD and Dr Bell.

4 STARS
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