Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Best Dr. Thorndyke Detective Stories by R. Austin Freeman

book cover
The Best Dr. Thorndyke Detective Stories
by R. Austin Freeman

ISBN-13: 9780486814810
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications
Released: July 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from GoodReads:
Known as the father of the scientific detective story, Freeman was a physician who tested his fictional ploys through microscopic and chemical analysis. His tales not only challenged the wits of his readers but also inspired many modern detection methods.

This collection presents eight of the most compelling Dr. Thorndyke stories. "The Case of Oscar Brodski," "A Case of Premeditation," and "The Echo of a Mutiny" offer outstanding examples of a form Freeman originated, the inverted mystery. In these tales, the crime and culprit are revealed at the outset; the fascination begins with the entrance of Dr. Thorndyke, who spins a convincing web of evidence from the subtlest clues.

"The Mandarin's Pearl," "The Blue Sequin," "The Moabite Cipher," and "The Aluminum Dagger" incorporate scientific detection, featuring details evaluated by the author's characteristic scientific analysis. As a special bonus, this volume includes "31 New Inn," the now hard-to-find tale in which Dr. Thorndyke makes his debut.

My Review:
The Best Dr. Thorndyke Detective Stories is a collection of 8 short stories with Dr. Thorndyke as the main character. These stories were originally published in 1909 to 1912, though one story is apparently set in 1900. They take place in England.

Dr. Thorndyke is a "medical jurispractitioner," so he handles "cold cases" (when lawyers consult him) as well as recently committed murders. He looks closely at the forensic evidence, carries a portable laboratory, and uses logic to solve his cases. He has a friend, Dr. Jervis, who helps him solve crimes. If this sounds like Sherlock Holmes, it is the same type of character. However, I like Thorndyke better. He's clever, but he doesn't show off like Sherlock does. (Sherlock has a habit of guessing based on high probabilities just so he'll look extremely smart.)

Thorndyke encourages Jervis to learn his methods, shares all of the clues that he finds, and encourages Jervis to puzzle out these clues for himself. This gives the reader a chance to puzzle out the answer as well. Not all of the stories are puzzle mysteries, though. The first three show us the crime from the criminal's perspective, then switches to showing Thorndyke spotting and analyzing the clues. These worked better than I expected and delved a bit into why the criminals acted as they did. I enjoyed and would recommend this book.

The stories contained in this book are:
The Case of Oscar Brodski
A Case of Premeditation
The Echo of the Mutiny
The Mandarin's Pearl
The Blue Sequin
The Moabite Cipher
The Aluminum Dagger
31 New Inn

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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