Sherlock Book Reviews - Oscar Slater A Killer Exposed

Posted by Steve Emecz on

David Marcum

Oscar Slater has long been known to fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. When ACD’s efforts to prevent miscarriages of justice are listed, this case, along with the George Edalji affair, are the two prime examples. Slater was convicted of a brutal 1908 murder, in spite of questions related to the evidence and trial procedure. He was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to hard labor. During his time in prison, his case became a celebrated cause, and after serving nearly two-decades of hard labor, he was freed.

ACD was one of the prime movers into securing Slater’s freedom – but he didn’t have all the facts. Scholar Brenda Rossini’s modern research has given her access to records that Doyle never had during his initial defense of Slater. She tells the whole story in this massive and well-documented volume – including the parts that many casual ACD fans forget: In later years, Doyle changed his mind and decided that Oscar Slater, the man he’d helped free, was in fact a murderer after all. 

This is an important book for ACD scholars who need to understand the bigger picture, and – while Sherlock Holmes is not involved in the investigation – he’s still present in many ways.


Oscar Slater A Killer Exposed is available from this site. 

Other options:   Amazon USA      Amazon UK     Barnes and Noble   


This is the story of Oscar Slater, a Jewish immigrant in Glasgow, Scotland and two fellow Scottish scammers, Helen Lambie and Patrick Nugent. In the Christmas season of 1908, the trio conspired to rob an elderly, wealthy lady of her diamonds, and, in the course of which burglary, Oscar Slater murdered her on December 21, 1908.

All, not some, authors and sleuths who researched the 1909 conviction emphatically supported Oscar Slater's innocence, that he was misidentified and wrongfully convicted.

In an effort to place guilt for Marion Gilchrist's murder squarely on Oscar Slater, the conclusions here reach further back in the crime's timeline to January 1908, about a year before the murder—the month that Patrick Nugent and Helen Lambie attended a New Year’s party. The Glasgow police investigation tarried at only 30 days leading up to the murder.


“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”  Sherlock Holmes, Sign of Four.

“If you’re looking for Trouble, you’ve come to the right place.”  Trouble, by Elvis Presley.

“I am Woman, hear me roar.” I am Woman, by Helen Reddy.

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