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John Thorndyke's Cases

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Author: R. Austin Freeman (Clifford Ashdown)
Published: 1909
Language: English
Wordcount: 80,691 / 237 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 79.9
LoC Category: PS
Series: John Thorndyke
Downloads: 4,740
Added to site: 2004.11.16 9484

The stories in this collection, inasmuch as they constitute a somewhat new departure in this class of literature, require a few words of introduction. The primary function of all fiction is to furnish entertainment to the reader, and this fact has not been lost sight of. But the interest of so-called "detective" fiction is, I believe, greatly enhanced by a careful adherence to the probable, and a strict avoidance of physical impossibilities; and, in accordance with this belief, I have been scrupulous in confining myself to authentic facts and practicable methods. The stories have, for the most part, a medico-legal motive, and the methods of solution described in them are similar to those employed in actual practice by medical jurists. The stories illustrate, in fact, the application to the detection of crime of the ordinary methods of scientific research. I may add that the experiments described have in all cases been performed by me, and that the micro-photographs are, of course, from the actual specimens.

Show Excerpt

E, Tracks of the nailed shoes. B, Overhanging cliff. F, Shepherd's Path ascending shelving cliff. C, Footpath along edge of cliff.]

"Twelve hours, eh?" repeated the officer. "That would bring it to about six o'clock this morning."

"I won't commit myself to a definite time," said Dr. Burrows hastily. "I only say not less than twelve hours. It might have been considerably more."

"Ah!" said the sergeant. "Well, he made a pretty good fight for his life, to all appearances." He nodded at the sand, which for some feet around the body bore the deeply indented marks of feet, as though a furious struggle had taken place. "It's a mighty queer affair," pursued the sergeant, addressing Dr. Burrows. "There seems to have been only one man in it--there is only one set of footprints besides those of the deceased--and we've got to find out who he is; and I reckon there won't be much trouble about that, seeing the kind of trade-marks he has left behind him."

"No," agreed the surgeon; "ther

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 4.7 from 7 reviews: *****
rebecca lane

The stories about Dr.Thorndyke are entertaining and interesting. Dr.Thorndyke comes over as a more pleasant character than Sherlock Holmes, and the stories are more believable. I found R.Austin Freeman as an author when I was at school in the sixties, and devoured every book of his I could find. In my minds eye, Dr.Thorndyke took on the appearance of Steve McGarrett from Hawaii 5.0 and I ended up a bit in love with him! Definatley recommended reading.


Very early CSI kind of investigations. It was interesting to see something we take for granted being treated as new and unusual.


Very entertaining. The stories are never too long and do not drag out. Dr. Thorndyke is a likeable, realistic character, and his methods are interesting to percieve.


An great collection of short detective stories featuring Dr. Thorndyke. Freeman had tried out the various experiments he describes in the book to make sure they would work as described. Another excellent entry in an excellent series.


Dr. Thorndyke is one of the great detectives of all time, right up there with Sherlock Holmes. For those who are fans of forensics and the scientific method in solving crimes, he is unsurpassed. And Freeman is also adept in making his characters likeable and his stories interesting. I have all the Freeman books in e-format, and I'd like to see the entire collection digitized. Highly recommended for readers who like their mysteries realistic and interesting instead of sensational.


These stories starring the classic British detective character of Dr Thorndyke can be seen as a precursor to the popular CSI television shows. R. Austin Freeman introduced forensic science to the general public at a time when the science itself was new, and has his character plead for the importance of having a crime scene left alone until it can be inspected by a forensic investigator -- or as they are called here, a "medical jurist". The stories are interesting not only for the characters and plots but Freeman's attention to scientific accuracy and inclusion of diagrams and photos to illustrate the means to solution.

R Stephan

This collection of short detective stories not only is as fascinating as the Sherlock Holmes books but it contains more realistic cases and, as such, can even serve as an introduction to forensics. I like the short stories better than the novels in this series.



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