This is a Sherlock Holmes novella at the beginning, which is terrific. Experienced mystery readers will recognize plot devices later copied by others. Then the rest is a prequel like Study in Scarlet. It's not as good, but I ended up enjoying it too.
This included the story The Final Solution.
Unfortunately, I saw 2 different versions of movies based on this book, so I didn't get the full enjoyment. There's one weak plot device, but otherwise this is classic Poirot. Very recommended.
The characterizations, as usual, are top notch. Many of the characters are clergy, so it gives this one a different flavor. The narrator is better than he was in #6.
In a way this disappointed me, because the mystery was much different. The writing and the moral story was so strong though, that overall I loved it. The ending really shocked me.
My enjoyment of the stories varied. Some were fantastic. Others just sat there. Thus the 4. Mr. Quin is a bit magical. His powers include knowing when a young lover needs his special help, and showing up to direct Mr. Satterthwaite. They do not include knowing the key to the mystery (I don't think), so the detection in the story is not ruined.
My favorite was The Man from the Sea
Outstanding! Audible please make the rest of the Erast Fandorin mysteries available. I'm totally hooked.
I agree with the other reviewers that many of the stories are contrived to fit the box theme. Many are not mysteries. However, I think the theme is interesting, and the collection worth the credit. All are well written and narrated.
The 1st story is my favorite. The Most Private Detective is my next most favorite. A number of others were very interesting as well.
The last one, about the world record, is explicit and raunchy, so beware.
These stories are part of the foundation of the mystery genre. These were one of the influences for Agatha Christie. The plots are clever and well developed.
The only thing I don't like is that the old man does not share his conclusions with anyone but Polly, who he relates his cases to. The criminals are not brought to justice.
As with all anthologies, the quality varies. There are several that are outstanding. The worst is pretty good. The narrations are all good. There were several that I skipped because I'd heard them in other collections, but most of these are not easily found. I recommend these to those who love mysteries.
I too had a hard time with all the American characters suddenly having Southern accents. The story is also not as good as the previous book. The ending was very interesting, but disappointing to me.
This is indeed a complex plot, but I thought it was well done. I enjoyed how it was woven together.
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