I was given this book as a present and was initially sceptical as to whether or not I would like it. Now that I have finally gotten round to reading it I found that it was a really delightful and absorbing read.
The plot dealing with the Great Wyrley Outrages, the trial of George Edalji and the appalling miscarriage of justice that ensued was gripping and Barnes keeps the book moving along at a good pace. The details of the police investigation and trial are interspersed with details of the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, of Sherlock Holmes fame, who subsequently becomes embroiled in the drama. The crime behind the Great Wyrley Outrages still has the capacity to shock even at this length of time and the description of the investigation and subsequent trial is compelling as one reads with ever mounting tension and dread of the failure of the legal system and of officialdom.
The imagination of the author is vividly on display throughout this book right from the begining which recounts the lives of two small boys whose paths are not to cross until much later in life.
The writing gives the outward appearance at least of being very thoroughly researched and I really had the feeling that the stories of both men were brought to life on the pages of this book. There are also fascinating insights into old fashioned values, spiritualism and the history behind the establishment of criminal appeals in England (which the case recounted in this book was instrumental in establishing).
All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable read with the added benefit that I feel I have learned something.