Apr. 24, 2019

This latest two-volume set would sit proudly on any mystery readers bookshelf! Excellent!

The Complete Dr. Thorndyke Volume 1 by R Austin Freeman edited by David Marcum

Possible Spoilers

Dr. Thorndyke is a detective specializing in scientific methods of solving crimes. His stories are narrated by Doctor Christopher Jervis, Thorndyke’s friend and companion on his cases.

The Red Thumb Mark

In this story, Doctor Thorndyke, and his trusted laboratory assistant Polton is tasked with the challenge of proving Reuben Hornby innocent of having stolen a number of expensive diamonds from his uncle’s business’s safe.

The safe was damaged or broken into. The only people who could have know where the key was are Reuben, his uncle John and his cousin Walter.

Inside the safe are drops of blood and a memo note with a thumbprint; marked in scarlet. A comparison made using aunt’s Thumbograph proves the print belongs to Ruben. Eventually, the day of the trial emerges and Doctor Thorndyke is all that stands between Ruben Hornby and prison.

The thumbograph was a device sold to the public to record thumbprints of family and friends. It was considered a form of after-dinner entertainment. The person inks their finger before printing it on one side, on the other, people sign their names.

The story uses enough science to become tedious at times. Holmes used to berate Watson for “romanticizing” his adventures. This story could have used a little of that “romanticizing.” Freedman could have learned a lot from Conan Doyle…

The Eye of Osiris

John Bellingham’s disappearance from his friend’s study sets off the next adventure. He had been waiting for his friend to return home. Two years pass with no sign of him. His potential heirs are trying to execute his rather strange will. Pieces of a dismembered skeleton show up in strange places.

Dr. Paul Berkeley, our narrator for this adventure, has fallen in love with Ruth Bellingham. She is the missing man’s niece, and her father is a potential heir.

Dr. John Thorndyke makes a thorough investigation, as an outstanding medical authority. The scientific method is Thorndyke’s guide, only what he can prove interests him.

In creating this character, R. Austin Freeman gives the reader a glance into early forensic science. There is still a bit much scientific dialogue, but the story builds nicely.

The Mystery of 31 New Inn

The narrator, Dr. Jervis is sent for to treat a Mr. Graves, who lives with a Mr. Weiss. Oddly enough, his trip to the house is in a closed carriage with no view of the streets. Suspicious, Dr. Jervis consults his friend Dr. Thorndyke, the scientific detective. Dr. Thorndyke advises him on ways to discover where he is being taken.

Dr.  Jervis thinks Graves might be a victim of opium poisoning. The question is who would be administrating the deadly concoction, and why?

Some of the many clues include a box of candles and a veiled woman. There is also the puzzle of a picture hanging upside down.

What will the final reveal tell the reader about the mysterious Mr. Weiss and the unusual will?

Actually, I liked this one best of the three. A bit wordy, but a solid enough case and investigation!

I give the book as a whole four stars…

Quoth the Raven…