Very good mystery stories by one of the greatest American mystery writers. For some reason, this collection as readily available on the Internet is a free e-book, though I'm sure it is not the best or most well-remembered of the stories that Post wrote. Nevertheless, they are clever stories, cleverly told. These stories are loosely connected, and feature (in a manner of speaking) the detective Sir Henry Marquis. For example: some of them are stories told by Sir Henry. One of the many things that makes Post's writing stand out is the way he plays around with narrative structure. (It reminds me a bit of Joseph Conrad - but not quite that complicated.) These stories are good, but I'm sure there are better to be found. Post is most famous for the stories he wrote that feature "Uncle Abner."
I found this old mystery overly-long and disappointing. At first, I enjoyed the complex sentences (no one would write in this style nowadays) and the set-up of the story. The characters are well drawn and interesting. About half-way through the book, however, Rees introduces his detective, Colwyn - it's all tedious and downhill from there. Colwyn is a preposterous and uninteresting character. Colwyn finally tricks the guilty party into confessing the crime in detail. While I did not like this book, there may be better titles by Rees. He's not a bad writer (in an old-fashioned sort of way) or plotter. But, I do not personally recommend this book.
This is my favorite of the mystery novels of R. Austin Freeman (so far!). It's really a fun read. Freeman wrote very much in the tradition of Conan Doyle, so reader who enjoy the Sherlock Holmes stories, will almost certainly like Freeman's Dr. Thorndyke stories. Though Freeman's books are always good, this one stands out as a real Golden Age detective novel classic. I liked everything about it: the ancient Egyptian background, the very victorian romance, the puzzling mystery plot, the whole thing. While much of the unfolding of the investigation depends upon coincidence, and it is hard to imagine, in the end, a murderer going to quit that much trouble - never mind that! This is a ingenious and fun detective novel in the Sherlock Holmes tradition. Very enjoyable and highly recommended. In fact, I would say, if you read only one of the Freeman novels, let this be the one.
Though this is not the first of Freeman's the Dr. Thorndyke novels to be published, it appears to be the first one he wrote, and is the best introduction to the series as a whole. Readers who love Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories should give this book a try. It is written very much in the Conan Doyle style. As with many Freeman novels, coincidence drives the plot. Don't let that bother you. This is a good story in the classic detective traditon, and the very best introduction to the Dr. Thorndyke series. Freeman wrote many more of these stories, and they are even better than this one.
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