Monday, August 23, 2010

Tuesdays Tomes: Cleek: The Man of Forty Faces by Thomas W. Hanshew

Tuesday Tomes is a weekly book review of mainly vintage books. If you’ve reviewed a book recently-new or old-send me an e-mail and I will link to your post.

Cleek: The Man of Forty Faces by Thomas W. Hanshew

I’ve been in the mood for a good mystery and I found a real doozy in Cleek: The Man of Forty Faces! Detective Cleek helps Scotland Yard solve those difficult and pesky cases with his brilliance-yes, this is an old time detective story.

Not only is it a ripping good tale but it is wondrously read by Ruth Golding. I was sure she was a professional actress or reader but when I went to her website, she makes it clear that she is an amateur-an amateur reader for Librivox! How lucky for us! You can be sure I’ll be listening and reporting on other books read by Ruth Golding.

The action begins immediately and never lets up! In the prologue-which is really a prequel-we find out how Cleek changes from master criminal to master detective.

“All my life I’ve fought against the law-now let me switch over and fight with it. I’m tired of being Cleek the thief; Cleek the burglar. Make me Cleek, the detective, and let us work together, hand in hand, for a common cause and the public good. Will you Mr. Narkum? Will you?”

“Will I? Won’t I!” said Narkam, springing forward and gripping his hand. “Jove! what a detective you will make. Bully boy! Bully boy!”

The main characters are all interesting and likeable: Cleek with his amazing ability to change both his looks and mannerisms, his young Cockney assistant, Dollops, the heavenly Miss Ailsa Lome, and that kind old gent, Superintendent Maverick Narkom.

Published in 1913 this book has everything… from London to the sewers of Paris, from horse racing (Oh, how I hooted with glee when I got to that tale!) to romance. The cases are all interesting and best of all to me, the clues to the riddles are all there so while I didn’t actually solve them all, I did hit on the guilty party or at least the motive several times. (One of the annoying things with Agatha Christie is that you can never solve them because there’s always critical information known only to Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot and only revealed at the final denouement. It always felt like cheating to me!)

You can download this free audio book here or the free e-book in pdf or kindle format here.


Lesly said...

I do so love your classic book reviews. I download almost all the ones you review them from Project Gutenberg (I prefer print to audio) and add them to my iPhone. Keep 'em coming!

Juliesa said...

I so loved this book! I listened to the Librivox audio version, by the unbelievable Ruth Golding. Awesome reader and great book.
Thank you, so very much, for you reviews of older books. I would never have listened to some of them; never HEARD of them, and they have been so enjoyable. Thanks, again. ---Julie