Arthur and George is the third book by Julian Barnes I have read. My first one was The Sense of an Ending and my second was Flaubert's Parrot. I cannot say which of these novels I like best but I will say Arthur and George was the most fun to read and the most exciting. The novel is for more than the first half a tale of two men, one the creator of the Sherlock Holmes stories and one a solicitor of Indian descent.
The way Barnes structures this novel is just brilliant. The characters of the solicitor and of Holmes are just perfect as are the minor players. Barnes brings the era totally to life for us. I felt so bad for what happened for the solicitor and you will also. Doyle gets into spiritualism and I do not fault him for this. I think once many of the important people in your life have passed the attraction can be understood. I got chills in the final scenes it was just so brilliant. How the two lives come together is marvelous and is based on real events.
I think the best thing I can do to give potential readers a feel for this novel is to quote the description from the web page of the author.