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Conan Doyle a murderer?
Sherlock Holmes author faces U.K. murder probe
LONDON (Reuters) -- It's a crime that would have intrigued Sherlock Holmes himself -- a well-respected author stole the idea for a hugely successful book from his friend and then murdered him.
But in a twist that might have baffled even Holmes, the suspect in this mystery is none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the great fictional detective, British newspapers reported on Sunday.
Writer Rodger Garrick-Steele has come up with the sensational conclusion based on an 11-year investigation into letters, wills and other circumstantial evidence.
To rub salt into the wounds, even Holmes's old pals at Scotland Yard are on the case. Detective Chief Superintendent Brian Moore, head of the serious crime squad, has ordered an investigation into the allegations, the Sunday Times said.
Garrick-Steele says that Conan Doyle stole the idea for one of his best-known Sherlock Holmes novels, "The Hound of the Baskervilles," from his friend Bertram Fletcher Robinson and later poisoned him with the help of Robinson's wife Gladys with whom he was having an affair.
In his book titled "The House of the Baskervilles," Garrick-Steele said much of the detail for the story of the giant, ghostly hound which preyed on members of the Baskerville family had come from a manuscript entitled "Adventure on Dartmoor," written by Robinson a year before.
Conan Doyle even borrowed the name of Robinson's coachman and gardener -- Harry Baskerville -- for his book's title.
"There would have been no Hound without him (Robinson) and credit was not given where it was due," Garrick-Steele told the Sunday Times.
"There was a growing froideur between them. If the evidence for the poisoning is properly sourced, I can't wait to read it in full."
According to records Robinson died aged 36 of typhoid in 1907, six years after "Hound" was first published and five years after Conan Doyle was knighted. But Garrick-Steele believes Conan Doyle actually poisoned him with laudanum.
"Using his extensive medical knowledge -- remember Conan Doyle trained as a doctor and Holmes is famous for his knowledge of poisons -- he persuaded Gladys to administer gradual, but lethal doses of laudanum to her husband," Garrick-Steele told the Independent on Sunday.
But the Sherlock Holmes Society dismissed the claims as "complete bunkum."
"The whole thing is a complete fabrication," a spokeswoman told the Independent, barely containing her disgust.
"The origin for the idea came from Fletcher Robinson but there is no doubt that the book is by Conan Doyle."
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