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The Ardlamont Mystery

Extent: 256 pages

Size: 234x153mm

Publication Date:

Price: £18.99

ISBN: 9781782438458

Categories: Science - History - Philosophy

About the Book

The real-life mystery featuring the two men – Joseph Bell and Henry Littlejohn – who inspired the creation of Sherlock Holmes.

December 1893. Arthur Conan Doyle shocks his legions of fans by killing off the world’s favourite fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. Meanwhile, in Scotland, a sensational real-life murder trial is playing out. Alfred Monson, a scion of the aristocracy, is charged with killing a young army lieutenant, Cecil Hambrough, on the sprawling Ardlamont estate. The worlds of crime fiction and crime fact are about to collide spectacularly.

Among the key prosecution witnesses that the Ardlamont case brought together were two esteemed Edinburgh doctors, Joseph Bell and Henry Littlejohn. Bell – Doyle's tutor when the author studied medicine in the 1870s – had recently been unmasked as the inspiration behind the creation of Sherlock Holmes (Doyle said of Bell, ‘It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes…'). But what the public did not know was that Bell and Littlejohn – a pioneer in the emerging field of forensic detection – had actually been investigating crimes together for more than twenty years. Largely unacknowledged, Littlejohn deserves equal billing as the prototype of Baker Street's most famous resident.

In The Ardlamont Mystery, author Daniel Smith re-examines the evidence of the case that gripped Victorian Britain, putting forward his own theory as to why Cecil Hambrough was murdered. Outlining the key roles of the men whose powers of deduction and detection had so inspired Doyle, Smith explores the real-world origins of Sherlock Holmes through the prism of a mystery as engrossing as any case the Great Detective ever tackled. Will Bell and Littlejohn’s shared faith in science and reason be enough to see justice win out?

Publication Date: 03/05/2018

Price: £5.99

ISBN: 9781782438472

Categories: Science - History - Philosophy

About the Book

About the Author

Daniel Smith is a non-fiction author and editor who has written across a range of subjects, including politics, economics and social history. He is the author of The Little Book of Big Ideas: 150 Concepts and Breakthroughs that Transformed History and the 'How to Think Like …' series for Michael O'Mara Books, which has been published in 25 languages and sold over 500,000 copies worldwide. He is also a scriptwriter for the award-winning podcast series, Real Dictators and A Short History of . . . He lives in London with his wife and two children.


  • 'Daniel Smith's book provides an enthralling real-life murder mystery that also sheds new light on the creation of fiction's most famous detective', Daily Mail
  • 'Sherlockians and true crime buffs alike will be intrigued', Publishers Weekly
  • 'Fascinating and expertly written
  • a true murder story that brings the real background of Sherlock Holmes and his creator strikingly to life', Andrew Lycett, author of Conan Doyle
  • The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes
  • 'The fictional Sherlock Holmes was born in a world of Victorian crime and mysteries. The sensational Ardlamont murder trial in 1893 was one of those inspirations... Daniel Smith does a wonderful job [of] recreating the trial in all its twists and complexities, a case worthy of Sherlock himself', Paul French, winner of the Edgar and Dagger awards for true crime writing and author of City of Devils
  • A Shanghai Noir and Midnight in Peking
  • 'Sheer delight. A Victorian murder mystery to rival the best of Conan Doyle', Barry Turner, Classic Crime critic, Daily Mail
  • 'A gripping read', The Sherlock Holmes Journal