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Maria Lectrix

Public domain audiobooks, six days a week, for folks with a Catholic taste in literature. Enjoy! Clan Honor Mondays: Fitz-James O'Brien works. Lit Tuesdays: Short stories, novels, or poems. Acts of the Wednesdays: Early Christian works. Mystery Thursdays: Mystery short stories or novels. Lit Fridays: Short stories, novels, or poems. Saintly Saturdays: Later Christian works.

Mary reading to ChristA Vatican Library catalog page, 1518

Sunday, October 09, 2005

#12: The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman (Part 1)

Here are the first four chapters of The Red Thumb Mark (1907), an Edwardian excursion into the mysteries of forensic science and one of the earliest hard forensic science mysteries. I think you'll like it. If you get impatient, you can read ahead on Gutenberg.

Actually, this is not the first Dr. Thorndyke mystery. Freeman came up with the character in his novella "31, New Inn". Then he wrote this novel, establishing much more of Dr. Thorndyke's character and introducing us to his friend, Dr. Christopher Jervis. Finally, he rewrote the first story as the third novel (The Mystery of 31 New Inn or The Mystery of 31, New Inn in its original UK appearance), and made it the chronologically second Thorndyke and Jervis story. This made his short story book John Thorndyke's Cases (1909) come chronologically third.

The second novel (chronologically fourth!) is on Gutenberg as The Vanishing Man, but I have to say I think that's a pretty generic title. I'd list it under its original English title of The Eye of Osiris (1911), myself.

Thorndyke wrote a good many books after the Great War (most of them after the sacred public domain deadline, and some of them apparently not all that great), but for some reason, his 1912 short story collection The Singing Bone (aka The Adventures of Dr. Thorndyke) doesn't seem to be on Gutenberg or anywhere else. This is a pity, since it's apparently rather momentous as the first "inverted mystery". You know who the criminal is and watch him assembling his evil deed; then you get suspense from watching Thorndyke try to figure things out. (I'm not really clear on the difference between this and a "thriller", except perhaps the greater emphasis on "arts and crafts" scenes where we watch the criminal or detective making and doing things. But it's also interesting as a visible version of how writers often work out mysteries in the first place: I want to kill someone. Why? How? When? What precautions will I take, so as not to get caught?)

Preface. Chapter 1: My Learned Brother
Chapter 2: The Suspect
Chapter 3: A Lady in the Case
Chapter 4: Confidences
1 hr. 40 min.


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