This is a very interesting book about a fascinating and enigmatic man. Enigmatic because it is difficult to understand how a mind that could create Sherlock Holmes, the ultra-clinical, ultra-sceptical detective, could also believe in fairies, table-tapping, "voices from beyond," and pretty much any other mystical twaddle that came his way. This book, however, goes some way to reconciling these two polar opposites, explaining how Scottish good sense prevented Doyle from using Holmes as a mouthpiece for his Spiritualist agenda, while placing that agenda in the context of Doyle's personal grief at losing his son in the Great War.As it was the author's intention to emphasise the period in which Doyle's Spiritualist beliefs came to dominate his life, this biography may not be for those looking for a personification of the Great Detective. For balance, The Secret Life of Houdini by William Kalush and Larry Sloman is a cracking read, telling the story of how the escapologist and Doyle became first close friends, and then bitter enemies as Houdini carried out his crusade to expose fake (aren't they all?) Spiritualist mediums.