Who knew that Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, also wrote one of the first novels, perhaps the first novel, about Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East? Titled The Tragedy of Korosko, the book was published in 1898, though serialized in The Strand magazine the previous year, and was based on Conan Doyle’s travels in Egypt from 1895 to 1896.
The Tragedy of Korosko tells of a group of Western tourists captured by followers of the Mahdi, the Sudanese leader whom the British were fighting at the time. It is actually very respectful of the men of the desert, their ascetic lifestyle in a harsh environment, which is beautifully evoked. But then, Conan Doyle was already skilled at writing about places. He was a great observer—no surprise from the man who created the world’s greatest consulting detective—and he conveyed that in everything he wrote.