In January of last year, I read my first R. Austin Freeman novel, little suspecting that it was to be the first step along a road of sheer delight. And so, to mark the end of Series 2 of In GAD We Trust, today I’m discussing Freeman and the Thorndyke stories with author and fellow R.A.F. fan Dolores Gordon-Smith.Continue reading
Summoned one evening to the house of a bedridden man — and taken there in a carriage with blacked-out windows to obfuscate the location — Dr. Christopher Jervis suspects poisoning but is assured by the people looking after Mr. Graves that no poison could have been administered. Some weeks later, he is summoned a second time and, after administering some treatment that sees Mr. Graves begin to revive, is dismissed and never hears of the patient or his carers again. Between these two visits, however, Jervis consulted Dr. John Thorndyke, which proves to be most fortuitous when further investigation into the matter becomes important.
2020 will linger in the memory for many reasons, but I’m going to try to remember it as the year in which I discovered the joy of R. Austin Freeman’s Dr. John Thondyke. I had previously read, and entirely forgotten about, the impossible crime short story ‘The Aluminium Dagger’ (1909), but it is the novel Mr. Pottermack’s Oversight (1930) — the plot of which is proposed by Thorndyke herein, anticipating Agatha Christie’s use of the same foreshadowing in The A.B.C. Murders (1936) of Cards on the Table (1936) — that I shall consider my first bread with Freeman. And As a Thief in the Night (1928) caps an invigorating year of author-discovery.
After a two month blogging hiatus in which I cleared a lot of lingering chaff from my TBR, it was wonderful to pick The D’Arblay Mystery (1926) as the first book for my return and love the absolute socks off of it. Having now acclimatised myself to the faintly pedantic verbiage of Richard Austin Freeman, I’m happy to acknowledge my parsimony in giving the masterful Mr. Pottermack’s Oversight (1930) — my first encounter with the author’s long-form work — a mere four stars and to correct that error here with the gloriously involving puzzle of Julius D’Arblay’s murder. While in many ways a thoroughly unsurprising book, in the ones that count it is joy unconfined to my GAD-happy soul.
It was my understanding that William Shakespeare invented the word “eyeball”. The noun eye was extant at the time, as was the concept of a ball being something round, but that Shakespeare was the one to take the two principles and conflate them. It turns out he didn’t [see the comments below this post], but presumably someone did, and that’s all I really need to be the case for this opening paragraph.
Today was due to have been the sixth (sixth!) Bodies from the Library conference at the British Library but, for obvious reasons, it’s not. I can’t, alas, give you a whole day of GAD-based discussion, but I can at least fill an hour with someone from that line-up of exceptionally knowledgable people, Tony Medawar.
Every post could be someone’s first post, so just in case you’re new here: this post today is rich in spoiler-heavy details about the novel The Eye of Osiris, a.k.a. The Vanishing Man (1911) by R. Austin Freeman. Read on only if you don’t mind having plot details discussed. Do not assume I’m going to be vague and mindful of avoiding spoilers.
Another week in lockdown, another episode of my new “hopefully this will distract you” Golden Age Detection podcast, In GAD We Trust.