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Book Title: The Jacob Street Mystery|
The author of the book: R. Austin Freeman
Edition: House of Stratus
The size of the: 8.67 MB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1331 times
Reader ratings: 4.7
Date of issue: October 11th 2008
ISBN 13: 9780755103645
Format files: PDF
Read full description of the books:
Unconscious Witness (1942) by R. Austin Freeman is the 28th entry in the Dr. Thorndyke series. It involves an artist who is out sketching and manages to see the beginnings of a rather involved crime. Little does Tom Pedley know when two men walk past his hidden sketching spot (he can see them, but they can't see him) and a woman comes sneaking along behind them that his impressions and a quick sketch drawn afterward will help Dr. Thorndyke unravel two murders and solve the disappearance of a woman by the name of Mrs. Schiller. Of the two men, one is Charles Montagu and he will not return from the walk in the woods.
When Montagu is found dead, authorities know that there was an artist in the vicinity, but are unable to trace him immediately. Pedley doesn't own a wireless and rarely looks at a newspaper, so he finds out about the murder just before the police track him down. Since he's known to Mr. Polton, an associate of Dr. Thorndyke's, the police are more willing to accept his reasons for not coming forward than they might otherwise be--but his detailed description of the events of that day and even his sketch of the people involved give the police little help in unraveling the mystery.
It isn't until another artist, Lotta Schiller, takes up residence in a house nearby, makes his acquaintance and then disappears that his evidence proves more useful. And when the body of woman who has gone under the name Emma Robey is found in Mrs. Schiller's abandoned rooms things get really complicated--found most providentially by Mr. Polton which brings Dr. Thorndyke into the case. Dr. Thorndyke's sharp eye sees what the police and even Pedley with his artist's eye for detail have missed.
I have to say that thist was a pretty disappointing entry into the adventures of Dr. Thorndyke. The doctor doesn't show up until well past the half-way mark and then most of his investigations and deductions are made off-page. And the build-up with Pedley in the first half was unnecessarily long and pretty boring. A good editing might make a this into a much more enjoyable novella. My other quibble--Thorndyke doesn't really explain the motive behind the first murder. I realize that motive isn't everything--but I'd really like to know why Montagu had to die. ★★ and a half (rounded up here)
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Read information about the authorRichard Freeman was born in Soho, London on 11 April 1862 and was the son of Ann Maria (nee Dunn) and Richard Freeman, a tailor. He was originally named Richard and later added the Austin to his name.
He became a medical trainee at Middlesex Hospital Medical College and was accepted as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons.
He married Annie Elizabeth Edwards in 1887 and they had two sons and after a few weeks of married life the couple found themselves in Accra on the Gold Coast where he was assistant surgeon. His time in Africa produced plenty of hard work, very little money and ill health, so much so that after seven years he was invalided out of the service in 1891. He wrote his first book, 'Travels and Life in Ashanti and Jaman', which was published in 1898. It was critically acclaimed but made very little money.
On his return to England he set up an eye/ear/nose/throat pactice but in due course his health forced him to give up medicine although he did have occasional temporary posts and in World War I he was in the ambulance corps.
He became a writer of detective stories, mostly featuring the medico-legal forensic investigator Dr Thorndyke. The first of the books in the series was 'The Red Thumb Mark' (1907). His first published crime novel was 'The Adventures of Romney Pringle' (1902) and was a collaborative effort published under the pseudonym Clifford Ashdown. Within a few years he was devoting his time to full-time writing.
With the publication of 'The Singing Bone' (1912) hee invented the inverted detective story (a crime fiction in which the commission of the crime is described at the beginning, usually including the identity of the perpetrator, with the story then describing the detective's attempt to solve the mystery). Thereafter he used some of his early experiences as a colonial surgeon in his novels.
A large proportion of the Dr Thorndyke stories involve genuine, but often quite arcane, points of scientific knowledge, from areas such as tropical medicine, metallurgy and toxicology.
He died in Gravesend on 28 September 1943.
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