Forgotten Book: The Singing Bone

The Singing Bone by R. Austin Freeman, originally (c) 1912 (published in the United States as The Adventures of Dr. Thorndyke). Mystery short story collection featuring Dr. Throndyke. I read this collection in: The Complete Thorndyke, Volume II: Short Stories, (Part I), MX Publishing 2018 trade paper

This is the second collection of stories in this volume, and it contains the famous and oft-referred to inverted stories, which Freeman is credited as inventing.

Dr. John Evelyn Thorndyke is a fictional detective in a long series of 21 novels and 40 short stories by British author R. Austin Freeman (1862–1943). Thorndyke was a ‘medical jurispractitioner’: both a medical doctor and a member of the bar. His solutions were based on collecting all possible data before looking at the protagonists and motives in the crimes. It is this method which gave rise to one of Freeman’s most ingenious inventions, the inverted detective story, where the criminal act is described first and the interest lies in Thorndyke’s subsequent unravelling of it.

The book I’m reading, The Complete Dr. Thorndyke, Volume II, Short Stories Part I, contains The Singing Bone thusly:

  • The Case of Oscar Brodski (the first inverted story)
  • A Case of Premeditation
  • The Echo of a Mutiny
  • A Wastrel’s Romance
  • The Old Lag

As before, I enjoyed these quite a bit. Though I find the inverted stories interesting for their form, I’m just as happy with the more straightforward stories in the previous collection (here).

I have received notice of the next three volumes, which will be published early in 2020, and have ordered them. I’m quite glad MX Publishing is doing these volumes.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Forgotten Book: The Singing Bone

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I like Freeman’s short stories too, both the straightforward and the inverted ones. The link to the previous review needs to be fixed.

  2. I’m ordering those 2020 volumes, too. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. tracybham says:

    I am interested in these books… or at least the first one that you reviewed earlier … but they are pretty expensive. Where are you ordering them from?

    • They are available from MX Publishing, on a Kickstarter. Yes, they are a bit pricey. You may be able to find some of the stories more cheaply in other collections.

      • tracybham says:

        Well now, that’s different. We support a lot of Kickstarters. I researched it this morning (since I am not that familiar with R. Austin Freeman), and decided to go with the Kickstarter option for Volume III, paperback edition. Then if I like those stories I may go back and get a copy of Vol. I or II. Thanks very much, I am glad you made me aware of this.

    • Vidor says:

      This particular book is in the public domain and can be found both at Project Gutenberg and Wikimedia Commons for free.

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