Mar. 30, 2018

“Two and two make four—not some of the time—all of the time!”

Jacques Futrelle's "The Thinking Machine": The Enigmatic Problems of Prof. Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen, Ph. D., LL. D., F. R. S., M. D., M. D. S. 

I discovered “The Thinking Machine” in one of the “Rivals of Sherlock Holmes” books. Wanting to read more than the few stories offered there, I was excited to see this book available.

But there is a major problem. The logic used by Professor Van Dusen is not all that logical. If his first story, “The Problem of Dressing Room A” he makes a jump from a disappearing stage actress to hypnotist without a shred of evidence to support the statement. In his “The Problem of Cell 13” his promise to escape prison in a week is based solely on luck, not logic. Granted, perhaps he could have escaped another way that would have involved more critical thinking, but luck did it for him. He solves a disappearing car by having a bicycle champion follow it, but never examined the scene to confirm how the car got out of the speed trap that only had an entrance and an exit.

The stories do not get any better. The cases appear t be clever upon the first read. Then the sheer illogic of the whole thing falls apart. Where Holmes eventually gives a step by step rundown of how he solved a case, Van Dusen simply jumps to the end with a sometimes laughable farce of an explanation. Oh, well…

The character of Van Dusen is rather well thought out, but the means of solving the case lacks a lot. He remains a beloved character, but whoo-boy is the logic faulty! Sad, really… I leave it to the reader to decide for him or herself…

I give the book two stars…

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here>