R.A. Freeman, “The Red Thumb Mark”.

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[Other books by Richard Austin Freeman]

“The Red Thumb Mark” is a crime novel of 1907. It is the debut novel by Freeman, and the first in which appears the character of the forensic pathologist, a lawyer and scientific investigator John Thorndyke.

Reuben Hornby, a young man who works in the company of his uncle in the City, is in trouble. The office safe uncle was found open, and a bag of diamonds that had been entrusted in custody disappeared. Three men were in possession of the keys: Reuben, his cousin Walter and Uncle John, but the science of fingerprints, recently adopted by Scotland Yard, accused Reuben. In fact, the thief was injured and left the imprint of his thumb, drawn with blood, on a sheet found in the safe. The evidence seems overwhelming, but Dr. Thorndyke stands as rule not to accept any fact without subjecting it to rigorous scientific examination. And with the help of his friend Dr. Jervis and faithful assistant Polton, prepare a defense to be submitted to the process, in a dramatic ending full of twists.

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Chapters:

  • Preface
  • I. My learned brother
  • II. The suspect
  • III. A lady in the case
  • IV. Confidences
  • V. The “Thumbograph”
  • VI. Committed for trial
  • VII. Shoals and quicksands
  • VIII. A suspicious accident
  • IX. The prisoner
  • X. Polton is mystified
  • XI. The ambush
  • XII. It might have been
  • XIII. Murder by post
  • XIV. A startling discovery
  • XV. The finger-print experts
  • XVI. Thorndyke plays his card
  • XVII. At last