Item description for The Mystery At Number 31, New Inn (Fingerprint Classics) by R. Austin Freeman...
Overview In the grand tradition of the great sleuths brought to life by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle comes another master. John Thorndyke is...cerebral, meticulous, British,...and underestimated. When Thorndyke's assistant, Dr. Jervis, gets a mysterious summons to ride to an undisclosed location in a sealed-off carriage, there are signs of a dangerous plot aloof. Patiently, logically, using all his prowess for jurisprudence, Thorndyke maneuvers his way through a labyrinth of clues--Broken glass, and u[side down picture, a veiled woman, a box of candles. Others have declared the case "impossible," and Jervis too, has his doubts. Will the mystery at Number 31 prove in the end to be even Thorndyke proof?
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Studio: Journey Forth
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.54" Width: 5.12" Height: 0.51" Weight: 0.6 lbs.
Release Date Dec 7, 2004
Publisher Journey Forth
Grade Level High School
Series Fingerprint Classics
ISBN 1591663067 ISBN13 9781591663065
Availability 0 units.
More About R. Austin Freeman
Deemed the father of the scientific detective story, Richard Austin Freeman enjoyed a prolific career that saw him gain qualifications as pharmacist and surgeon, pull off a diplomatic coup along the Gold Coast, work for Holloway Prison and then become a formidable writer of fiction.He was born in London, the son of a tailor who went on to train as a pharmacist. After graduating as a surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital Medical College, Freeman taught for a while and then joined the colonial service, offering his skills as an assistant surgeon along the Gold Coast of Africa. He became embroiled in a diplomatic mission when a British expeditionary party was sent to investigate the activities of the French. Through his tact and formidable intelligence, a massacre was narrowly avoided. His future was therefore assured in the colonial service. However, after becoming ill with black-water fever, Freeman was sent back to England to recover and finding his finances precarious, embarked on a career as acting physician in Holloway Prison. In desperation, he also turned to writing where he went on to dominate the world of British detective fiction, taking pride in testing different criminal techniques. So keen was he, part of one of his best novels was written in a bomb shelter. For the first twenty-five years of his writing career, Freeman was to dominate and remain unrivalled in the world of detective fiction, introducing the well-loved and highly memorable 'Dr Thorndyke'. The continued success of this character has affirmed Richard Austin Freeman's place amongst the finest of crime writers.
R. Austin Freeman was born in 1862 and died in 1943.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Mystery At Number 31, New Inn?
Not a "found treasure" Feb 4, 2008
The story opens with a financially-struggling physician, Dr. Jervis, who is drawn into the strange medical case of an apparently hermit-like, desperately ill patient whom is ultimately found dead. The doctor's benefactor, new partner, and man-about-town, Dr. John Thorndyke, coincidentally takes on the case of a possibly fraudulent will for a prominent law firm and decides that the two cases are connected. A laundry list of clues, evidence, and testing of the facts ensues. This mystery is told in first person, a very difficult task for any writer.
Here we have one of those mysteries which fails to take into account the psychology of why people read mysteries in the first place, especially British ones. Freeman's work is BULGING with evidence and clues -- facts; and then, all activity takes on the, "...then I did this, and then we did that," approach to relating the story. Maybe not so primitively as my example but you get the idea.
So the script has a Western-culture man's fingerprints all over it, "destination oriented". If Christie or Marsh would have written this book it would be 100 pages longer through subtle character development; commentary on the weather, and; shrewd dialogue which most folks would consider small talk and having little or no evidentiary value -- "journey oriented". And it's the latter that positively impacts the mystery buffs' psychology. They want to take the journey.
Of course this lack of background wallpaper is one general failing of the book. It's quite true that some men have been more than capable of addressing this mystery reader's thirst. Arthur Upfield and Victor Gunn are good examples of men who have done so. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, with his fact-finding oriented, no-messing-around-tolerated Sherlock Holmes, realized the reader's need for environment, atmosphere, and dialogue.
Freeman was an early-period mystery author, (I say this partly in his defense), and Doyle would have been one of his few role models. But, as Freeman was a physician, I suspect that he had little spare time for reading cosy murder mysteries prior to his attempt to write one.
I could immediately sense that this was a manuscript which had been "perfected to its own death," not through mishandling by an editor, but by the author himself. One writes a simple sentence and it reads nicely... but its inexperienced author, thinking that it's neither grammatical nor precise enough, goes back to repair it, perhaps multiple times. Then he thinks it's not academic enough so he fixes it some more. The resulting work is a difficult and abrasive story for the reader. Such is this book.
The orchestration of this mystery is of the plodding-forward type with no counterpoint. Sub-plots are completly absent. To further analogize to a symphony, every stanza is melodic and resolved -- in other words, predictable. While you might not, as a reader, see the relevance of clues as they pop up in here, you still recognize that they ARE clues and that they are not false ones. The lack of a sub-plot herein eliminates most of the opportunity for utilizing that key mystery writer's tool.
Based upon Dr. R. Austin Freeman's totally unjustified and blind confidence, I found his work to be like that of a FEW other physicians I've unfortunately encountered over the years. I'd almost bet that Freeman was a man who felt that everything he touched was for the better. One garners this idea based partly upon the arrogant demeanor of the story's gaudy hero, (John Thorndyke, who is a doctor AND a lawyer!), as he repeatedly patronizes and denigrates his humble assistant, Dr. Jervis, Freeman's "Watson" and the narrator of the tale. As to the quality of this mystery, the story is singularly unimaginative, totally nurtured inside the box.
Here's a quotation from the back cover, no doubt placed there to promote sales: "In the grand tradition of the great sleuths brought to life by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle comes another master. John Throndyke is... cerebral, meticulous, British... and underestimated."
When there exists an obvious tailgate like that one, it should be a huge red flag for the consumer. I gave this book two stars instead of one because it stands, historically, as an early-period (1912) British mystery, useful for study by prospective authors. But John Thorndyke was no Sherlock Holmes any more than R. Austin Freeman was equal to the brilliant Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
R. Austin Freeman is one of The Best Mystery Writers Ever. Mar 13, 2006
If you truly like to delve into a mystery and figure it out, Freeman's mysteries are at the top. This one is truly weird. Dr. Jervis is approached in his office by a man who tells him he has a friend who is very ill and needs his help-he cannot tell him where the man is but he is desperately ill. Dr. Jervis dispite his ill feelings about this decides to go. He gets into a coach with no windows-completely dark so he will not know where he is going-what the address is. When he gets there, heis let out at a side entrance-he cannot see the house itself and finds a middle age man seemingly in a coma from what Dr. Jervis thinks is from opium or morphine poisining. Two very strange Germans-a man and woman are the only people attending him and cannot imagine how he could get morphine and insist it must be sleeping sickness. Dr. Jervis still does not know where he went but immediately consulted his friend, Dr. Thorndyke who figures out the solution in a very intricate way. Have fun along with him in this diabolical mystery.