"Dr. Doyle's novel is crowded with an amazing amount of incident and excitement.... He does not write history, but shows us the human side of his great men, living and moving in an atmosphere charged with the spirit of the hard-living, hard-fighting Anglo-Saxon."--New York Critic.
the village there was ever a smile upon his lips and a greeting in his eyes. There was not a beggar upon the country side who did not know that his heart was as soft as his muscles were hard.
There was nothing that he liked to talk of more than his old battles, but he would stop if he saw his little wife coming, for the one great shadow in her life was the ever-present fear that some day he would throw down sledge and rasp and be off to the ring once more. And you must be reminded here once for all that that former calling of his was by no means at that time in the debased condition to which it afterwards fell. Public opinion has gradually become opposed to it, for the reason that it came largely into the hands of rogues, and because it fostered ringside ruffianism. Even the honest and brave pugilist was found to draw villainy round him, just as the pure and noble racehorse does. For this reason the Ring is dying in England, and we may hope that when Caunt and Bendigo have passed away, they may have n
Set in 1851, and peopled by such famous names of that period as Beau Brummel, Gentleman Jackson and Lord Nelson, this historical novel seems at first to be a Dickensian coming-of-age story, but ultimately stretches into a sort of mystery.
Young Rodney Strong, son of a naval lieutenant, goes to London to acquire polish at the hands of his uncle, a Corinthian dandy. He's soon followed to town by his boyhood friend, Boy Jim, the village blacksmith's nephew, who's bent on a career as a boxer, then an illegal but nevertheless popular sport, conducted bare-fisted. Ultimately, they become involved in the solving of a decades-old murder case.
I continue to think it a pity that the Sherlock Holmes canon so overwhelms the rest of Arthur Conan Doyle's books that they're scarcely read today. Although it's nothing like the Holmes stories, this is a fine novel, well worth reading, though more for its historical color and characterization than the mystery itself.