Saturday, August 26, 2017

Best Max Carrados Detective Stories: Review

Max Carrados is a blind detective who owes his ability to solve mysteries to the honing of his other senses. He relies on his profound senses of hearing, smell, and touch to aid him in "seeing" what others miss. His abilities do tend towards the super-power side of things (especially his supposed ability to "read" print if it has made enough of an impression on the page and the font is large enough. But the stories are interesting enough and I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for them. As with all short story collections, the Best Max Carrados Detective Stories has a mixed bag of proficiency--giving the collection ★★ for a mid-range rating. My favorites are "The Knight's Cross Signal Problem," "The Disappearance of Marie Severe," and "The Tragedy at Brookbend Cottage."

A run-down of the stories:
"The Coin of Dionysius": This appears to be the first case in which Carlyle consults Carrados. He is relying on Carrados's knowledge of coins and special skills to help him determine if a rare coin is real or fake.
"The Knight's Cross Signal Problem": When a train accident occurs, the signalman swears that the signal showed red for danger and the engineer swears it was green for proceed. They are both right and Carrados proves how this can be.
"The Mystery of the Vanished Petition Crown": Another rare coin case. This time it disappears at auction and it looks like either a young female journalist or the attendant who showed her the coin must be the thief. Carrados, naturally, can "see" other options.
"The Holloway Flat Tragedy": Mr. Poleash comes to Carlyle with a story of a jealous lover of a shop girl he (Poleash) has flirted with and spurned when she pressed him for marriage. (He's married.) He's sure the man is out to get him. When Poleash is found dead, Carrados suspects a much deeper plot.
"The Disappearance of Marie Severe": Inspector Beedel asks for Carrados's help in the case of a missing schoolgirl. Carrados not only discovers the secret of the girl's whereabouts, but helps bring her family back together.
"The Mystery of the Poisoned Dish of Mushrooms": A young boy dies from poisoning. Did his uncle slip poisoned mushrooms into his food so he could inherit in the boy's place? Carrados doesn't believe the police are seeing the whole picture.
"The Ghost at Massingham Mansions": Instead of haunting a spooky old house, this ghost haunts a fairly new building of apartments. Its favorite occupations are turning on the gas lamps and running a bath. Carrados doesn't believe in ghosts--but who could be lighting the gas and running the water in an empty locked apartment?
"The Tragedy at Brookbend Cottage": Lt. Hollyer is convinced that Mr. Creake married his sister for her money and asks Carrados for his help. The detective discovers a sinister plot to do away with Mrs. Creake and they must act fast to prevent it from being carried out.
"The Last Exploit of Harry the Actor": A mystery featuring the robbery from several safe deposit boxes in a Lucas Street depository known colloquially as "The Safe." To gain access, box holders must pass through several barriers--both real locks and bars as well as secret passwords known only to the owners. Carrados uses his extraordinary senses to quickly solve the puzzle.
"The Ingenious Mr. Spinola": Mr. Spinola is said to be a great mathematician and inventor. He has produced an automaton that can play rubicon piquet--and win with astonishing regularity. Is it a legitimate enterprise or an elaborate swindle? Or neither? Carrados can tell us.

[Finished on 8/17/17]

All stories first published in 1927 or earlier. This fulfills the "Carriage/Wagon" on the Golden Scavenger Hunt card.

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