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The Uttermost Farthing

R. Austin Freeman

Book Overview: 

Humphrey Challoner is a solitary old man who spent a lifetime collecting for his private museum, primarily mammals exhibiting osteological abnormalities but also 24 articulated human skeletons without any apparent defect. His friend, Dr. Wharton, is puzzled by the collection, but he humors Challoner's eccentricities and tends to him in his final illness. When Wharton inherits the collection on Challoner's death, the dark mystery that ties the collection together is finally revealed.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Apparently, my smiling exterior, coupled with my previous conduct, daunted him. I think he took me for a lunatic; in fact, he hinted as much in coarse, ill-chosen terms. But his vocabulary was very limited, though quaint.

"We exchanged a few remarks and I could see that he did not like the tone of mine. The fact is that the sight of the knuckle-duster had changed my mood. I no longer felt playful. He had recalled me to my original purpose. He expressed a wish to leave the house and to know 'what my game was.' I replied that he was my game and that I believed that I had bagged him, whereupon he rushed at me and aimed a vicious blow at my head with his armed left fist, which, if it had come home, would have stretched me senseless. But it did not. I guarded it easily and countered him so that he staggered back gasping.

"That made him furious. He came at me like a wild beast, with his mouth open and his armed fist flourished aloft as if he would annihilate m. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I really, really liked this story! this is the 1st thing I've read by this author. I didn't know very much about this story going in. we meet Humphrey Challoner. he's dying and handling it very well. he has a very well cataloged collection of skeletons which he leaves to his dear friend(forgot hi...more

This tale isn't much of a mystery but the related events are a tad bit disturbing. Actually Mr. Humphrey Challoner is so angered by his wife's murder, that he vows to catch the person who did it and dedicates his life to this. However, Challoner ends up becoming a murderer himself and has a worry...more

After Humphrey Challoner finds his wife killed by the bullet of a robber in his home, he vows to catch the man. Mr. Challoner is a wealthy savant, and he saved the fingerprints of the robber as well as some of the robber's strange hair which Challoner's wife had in her hand. He has a private muse...more

I found this a most enjoyable and, at times, disturbing read. Whilst the plot is very simple, the author keeps the attention of the reader as the grisly series of events unfolds.

The search for a man with "ringed" hair seems a little far fetched, especially as over 20 years, there is a likelihood...more

A truly intriguing story; I've never read one like it before. But I warn you, it is not for the faint-hearted or one who has rigid views about justice/the judicial system. If you are willing to understand a fellow human's different point of view and are not frightened by mere skeletons, give it a...more

A grieving osteologist engages in a lifelong manhunt for the murderer of his beloved wife while maintaining his public persona by incorporating ingenious methods to first attain, then dispose of his victims’ bodies.

Weird. Nerdy to the max. Surprisingly unputdownable.

A fantastic book but rather disturbing. A cross between Sweeney Todd and the Charles Bronson Death Wish movies.

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