#10: The Incredible Adventures of Rowland Hern [ss] (1928) by Nicholas Olde (Part 2 of 2)

Ready?  Okay, deep breath, here we go…

9: The Man with Three Legs

I was sold on this before the end of the first page.  It’s a wonderfully-realised story that, had Olde written more like this, would have us dismissing the later Father Brown tales as an attempt to recreate the spirit of Rowland Hern.  My one niggle is that the mystery of three disappearing left boots hardly seems worthy of the supposed genius of Hern, but everything else – from the hinted wider setting to the chrarmingly philosophical nature of the solution, and putting aside a single incongruity – works very well indeed.  Oh, and the penis joke you want to make was made here in 1928 (by the bishop of Wimbledon, no less), so you may wish to consider working on some new material…

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#9: The Incredible Adventures of Rowland Hern [ss] (1928) by Nicholas Olde (Part 1 of 2)

Incredible Adevnture of Rowland Hern, TheNicholas Olde, who presumably published this under a pseudonym because his real name was Amian Lister Champneys and that’s simply too awesome, left us only this one work of crime fiction to remember him by.  It’s presented in 17 chapters of about ten pages each with most being a distinct story, except ‘The Two Telescopes’ which has three chapters to itself. To avoid hideous verbosity, I shall split this review over two posts and rate each story separately to see how I like doing things that way.  No spoilers, of course.  Both covers I’ve seen for this book – my Ramble House edition (shown here) and the Heineman first edition I’ll attach to the next post – have a semi-supernatrual flavour that isn’t really accurate.  Hern is a genius detective in the classic mould, fond of obscure pronouncements and startling logical connections and always privy to more information than he lets on to his unnamed chronicler, and therefore the reader, until the closing explanation.  It would be very easy to compose him of shades of other fictional detectives, but these stories are interesting enough that they really should be allowed to stand on their own.  That said, I may need to make some such comparisons below just to give you an appropriate flavour without spoiling anything…

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