Editor's preface: 'Although Guy Boothby is little remembered today, he created a character who for some years was as familiar to British readers as Sherlock Holmes. This man was Dr Nikola, a sinister and ruthless criminal master-mind who had not a little in common with Professor Moriarty. Dr Nikola appeared in five novels between 1895 and 1901 and helped ensure literary success for the Australian-born writer who had come to England specifically to make his mark.
Boothby was the son of a member of the House of Assembly in Adelaide. He shared his father's love of horse racing, and after he became successful, he spent much of his spare time at the race courses of Southern England. The Turf features in a number of his tales. Simon Carne, the central figure in the following story - one of a series entitled A Prince of Swindlers - has the distinction of being the first gentleman crook in literature (preceding by two years the famous Raffles, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law, E. W. Hornung) and is also a man irresistibly drawn to the world of racing. In 'The Great Derby Swindle' he uses all his ingenuity and cunning to obtain that most cherished ambition of horse owners - a Derby winner.'