magisterium37 (magisterium37) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Book # 3: The Red Thumb Mark

The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman

This one turned out to be a pleasant surprise, especially considering it was a free download for Kindle! Now on to the review...

An underrated classic of scientific detective fiction, Dr Thorndyke indeed proved himself to be, at least cognitively, a worthy successor of Mr Sherlock Holmes, and his methods of analysis and deduction. Referring to himself as a 'medical jurispractitioner', Thorndyke's investigations involve the legal defense of his clients, and whilst the case of a red thumb print found on a document concealed in a safe whose contents have lately been purloined seems cut and dry to the reader - and Scotland Yard - he sets about proving why a fingermark, instead of incriminating, acts as exonerating evidence.

Admittedly, aspects of the mystery elements were not at all abstruse and easily guessed at, however, Freeman nonetheless proves himself a master of planting subtle clues, with his courtroom revel, even by today's standards, being a veritable masterpiece of analytic reasoning. As with Holmes, once explained, the answer becomes "absurdly simple", yet its effect is no less astounding.

Therefore, whilst 'The Red Thumb Mark', is not without its weaknesses, its strengths, which include well rounded characters, a tinge of adventure and romance, and an applause-worthy denouement, greatly outweigh any criticisms. This book really ought to be considered essential reading for those with an interest in character based, intellectual detective fiction.

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