Conan Doyle is one of the select group to which continuing mystery fans come early. Comparing this book to the adult biographies by Carr and Pearson, it is striking that all three emphasize a characteristic that junior and senior highschool students value and believe they will always be able to share -- Conan Doyle was an exemplar of the temperate idealist. He managed to live out a life the Ma'am would have approved of. This was his middle class mother, fiercely proud of a distinguished genealogy, who help up the noblest attributes of the aristocrat to her sons and in Arthur's case they took. The fictionalization of the early years weakens a book that quickly becomes a straightforward, chronological record benefiting from the author's access to family held material. His writing habits, the conception of his most famous character and his involvement with his times -- its wars, its injustices, its sports are carefully reported. The analysis of his commitment to Spiritualism -- on the surface contradictory in a man who had so much in common with his scientific detective -- is well done. The Wood biography, reviewed below, is written with more verve and does a better rundown on Doyle's books.