Reviews by craigadams49

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab

by Fergus Hume

This was quite a popular and sensational novel in its day. The author was a frustrated playwright, and he enjoyed creating characters with odd dialects and patterns of speech. A man is murdered in a hansom cab. But, who was the man who was last seen with him? The premise of this mystery is a bit thin, to sustain the novel for its entire length, and I felt the second half of the book dragged quite a bit. But, bear in mind that these types of mystery books were quite a new genre at the time. The popularity of this novel was an encouragement to other writers (like Conan Doyle, for example) to venture into the genre. So, all in all, a good first effort from Fergus Hume. But, not a great mystery novel.

Reviewed on 2010.05.12

Hand and Ring

by Anna Katharine Green

Another great old 19th Century mystery novel by Anna Katharine Green. In the town of Sibley in New York, the widow Clemens is attacked right after a group of friends, including the local District Attorney, had just concluded a discussion about crimes of this type. Before she dies she cries out: "Hand! Ring!" Later, during the coroner's inquest, suspicion falls on one man who stood to benefit from her death. But, Horace Byrd, a detective visiting from New York city, is not satisfied with this view, and begins to investigate on his own... Complications, and much drama ensue. Finally, in the very closing chapters Mr. Gryce show up to straighten things out. The author had a wonderful knack for writing these lengthy old mystery novels - and sustaining interest all the way through. It's a long book. The table of contents preserves the original page numbers: and, the last chapter is listed as beginning on page 600! Nevertheless, I never lost interest, as new "red herrings" show up along the way. Without giving anything away, I should mention that readers may not find the events and reconstructions in the closing chapters to be entirely credible. The attitudes about men and women in this book are very 19th Century. Just the same, I recommend this highly to all lovers of mystery novels.

Reviewed on 2010.04.16

The Abandoned Room

by Wadsworth Camp

This is an enjoyable old Locked Room mystery puzzle. The story becomes increasingly puzzling as it moves along. There are two locked room murders, a main suspect (who is also the main character) who cannot remember what he was doing the night of the murder, and suggestions of supernatural activity. I'd tell more, but I don't want to spoil it. Everything is explained in the last chapter. Recommended.

Reviewed on 2010.03.26

Grey Shapes

by E. Charles Vivian

This is a great piece of 1930s British pulp fiction. It is a supernatural detective story featuring the very likable Gregory George Gordon Green known to his friends as "Gees." I liked the way the author evoked the lonely, rural Cumberland setting. I also liked the way the author worked distinctively British folklore into the story. I found the characters interesting and engaging. However, there is no real mystery here: once the reader is willing to admit the possibility of the supernatural, it becomes quite obvious what is happening and where the whole book is heading. But, the author is a great storyteller, since he manages to keep the whole thing interesting and moving along at a nice pace. This is a fun read.

Reviewed on 2010.03.17

more reviews ->