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The Jacques Futrelle Megapack by Jacques…
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The Jacques Futrelle Megapack

by Jacques Futrelle

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Recently added byjkrzok, deftnerd, john257hopper

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This is a collection of short mysteries written by the author sometimes dubbed the American Sherlock Holmes. He isn't as well known nowadays as he probably should be; and to the extent that he is known, it is as a then comparatively well known person who died on the Titanic, alongside the much better known ones like J J Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, etc.

The sleuth in these mysteries is Professor Augustus S F X Van Dusen, better known as the Thinking Machine, who solves problems through the inexorability of pure logic ("two and two make four; not sometimes, but all the time" and "don't say something is impossible, it annoys me exceedingly" repeated in early every story). He isn't as well rounded as Sherlock Holmes and Futrelle is no Conan Doyle. However, this is a largely engaging compendium of 44 short stories (and three longer novels I haven't yet read that are not Thinking Machine stories, though he apparently appears in one of them). Van Dusen's Watson is a journalist Hutchinson Hatch, though their relationship is less close; and an Inspector Mallory usually fills the Lestrade role. Some patterns do repeat themselves - there are quite a number of jewel thefts and love triangles and a few rather implausible plotlines (though the same charge can be levelled at some Sherlock Holmes stories).

My favourite stories were: The Leak; The Haunted Bell; Problem of Cell 13 (usually reckoned as his best story); The Fatal Cipher; The Perfect Alibi; The Phantom Motor; Problem of the Opera Box; Problem of the Superfluous Finger; Case of the Scientific Murderer; Mystery of the Flaming Phantom (perhaps my personal favourite here); Mystery of the Golden Dagger; The Grinning God (an intriguing collaboration with his wife May [who survived the Titanic], who wrote up the first part detailing the problem, and left her husband to write the second part giving the resolution); Mystery of the Grip of Death; Mystery of the Man who was Lost; The Tragedy of the Life Raft; Problem of the Interrupted Wireless (the last in the collection, ironically set on a passenger liner, though no iceberg in sight). 4/5 ( )
  john257hopper | May 6, 2013 |
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