Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman

Source: Internet Archive
Length: Approx 8 hr
Reader: Maureen S. O'Brien

The book: The London police are presented with an open-and-shut case. A precious metals dealer had a large value of diamonds stolen from his office safe. The only people with access to the safe were the owner and his two nephews. Inside the safe, the police find a few drops of blood and a damning piece of evidence: the owner's ledger sheet for receipt of the diamonds marked with the bloody thumbprint of one of the nephews - Rubin Hornby.

Dr. John Thorndyke, a medical examiner for legal cases, takes up Rubin's case. Dr. Thorndyke believes he can clear Rubin's name. The most advanced science of Edwardian times will be brought to bear in this turn-of-the-century CSI. But how will Thorndyke and his new associate Christopher Jervis solve the mystery?

The difficulty of a mystery story is that, according to convention, the author should leave enough clues available to the reader to guess the outcome, but obscure the facts enough that most will not. Even so, some readers will see the solution very quickly. With the benefits of history and advancement of science, modern readers have additional advantages over Freeman's contemporaries. Although this story has a number of twists that may have thrilled past readers, I found it to be an entertaining, but predictable, mystery.

Rating: 6/10

The reader: Ms. O'Brien has a lovely American voice for narration. For the characters, she drops into voices that identify each quite well. This reading does not disguise the fact that it is amateur; O'Brien goes back to re-read phrases she flubs and there is some noise of page turning and bumps. However, if you can forgive the lack of polish, it is a very good amateur reading with acceptable sound quality.

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