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The Red Thumb Mark

R. Austin Freeman

Book Overview: 

Missing diamonds, untouched safe, two blood smeared thumb prints and a mysterious Mr X. If these are present, Dr Thorndyke must be there too. Will he be able to solve this case?

The Red Thumb Mark is the first novel of Freeman’s best-selling Thorndyke series.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ll thing and quite without any bearing on this affair. But it has been a great trouble to me since it has to some extent put a barrier between Reuben and me; and we used to be such close friends. And I have blamed myself for letting it influence me—perhaps unjustly—in my opinion of him. I will tell you about it, though I expect you will think me very foolish.

"You must know, then, that Reuben and I used, until about six months ago, to be very much together, though we were only friends, you understand. But we were on the footing of relatives, so there was nothing out of the way in it. Reuben is a keen student of ancient and mediaeval art, in which I also am much interested, so we used to visit the museums and galleries together and get a great deal of pleasure from comparing our views and impressions of what we saw.

"About six months ago, Walter took me aside one day and, with a very serious face, asked me if there was any kind of understa. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Dr John Evelyn Thorndyke's first case; he is a doctor turned lawyer who specialises in forensic evidence and he brings all his experience to bear in this case involving Mr John Hornby and his firm of jewellers.

He has two other family members with him in the firm, Reuben and Walter Hor...more

I am having a sort of mystery reviewing spree on one of my FB groups, because of a recent meeting on the future of mystery writing in Malayalam which I attended. It brought back fond memories of a largely misspent youth huddled up in my room, following intrepid sleuths, mysterious strangers and f...more

Definitely not my favorite Thorndyke. The detailed account about blood + fingerprints was fascinating, but some of the courtroom events were a bit too long, repetitive and slow. Of course, this is not an action thriller, nevertheless it dragged a bit at times. (And, yes, the culprit was obvious s...more

This is the first Dr. Thorndyke novel, from 1907, one of the earliest forensics-based mysteries. A valuable shipment of diamonds goes missing from a safe, and a nice young man is put in the dock for it. As evidence mounts, a renowned forensics expert is called in to help with the defense. The plo...more

A fair reading: good mystery and red herrings, but some sentences were painfully ponderous even for the writing of the time. Then there were the long detailed technical descriptions, discussions, and demonstrations about fingerprints and other technical matters that I am not drawn to in a book. N...more

I just recently reread this classic of British crime fiction, in exploring the subgenre of "scientific detectives" in the history of crime fiction.

The Red Thumb Mark is the first of twenty one full-length novels to feature Dr. John Thorndyke; there are also a number of short story collections in whi...more

This story is not only surprisingly charming to the reader but also unexpectedly relevant to the contemporary fad for forensic procedurals. Thorndyke seems, in many ways, to having been designed to be an interesting not quite anti-Holmes. Thorndyke does not call into question the necessity for th...more

Fingerprints. A single print, being unique - not even identical twins have the same fingerprints - that single print found in the right place at the right time is sufficient to disclose the perpetrator of a crime.

Actually, there are those who claim that identifying and matching finger...more

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