Craig Kennedy, Scientific Detective – Arthur B. Reeve

Like a lot of Kindle offerings, this is a huge collection of reading material – some 13 books.  And most of them are in turn a collation of short mysteries, so if your reading time is more bite sized chunks than long sessions that’s another advantage.

I’m not a big mystery buff, so I hadn’t heard of Reeve or Kennedy.  The price of the collection was low enough to risk it, and it turned out well.  A good way to describe it is a “CSI’ set in 1914.  Kennedy uses his science to determine the bad guy and collect evidence.  He then collects everyone into his lab to ‘put the finger’ on him.  Some of the techniques are old hat, but others are still a bit exotic to this day.

The setup is very ‘Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson’ –  the other main character is a news reporter who tags along with Kennedy and chips in with some help.  The stories tend to be more cerebral than physical.  The stories move about through different strata of society, so you get a picture of life at the time, or at least what could be printed in a classy magazine.  So it may not be gritty, but I imagine there is a kind of realism that the readers would expect.

There are a few books that don’t fill the pattern.  Two use Kennedy, but you won’t recognize him.  Instead of being a loner scientist genius, he’s in love with a lovely rich girl and is as dumb as a post.  He continually leaves his girl to be snatched by the bad guy and his minions only to rescue her.  The explanation is that these were adapted movie scripts that he did, and read much like the Perils of Pauline

There is another collection of stories about a woman “Detective”, Constance Dunlap.  It is interesting because the moral view is a lot more ambiguous.  She starts out helping her husband embezzle money from his company, but in the end he kills himself to shield her involvement.  After that, with a comfortable amount of money, she tends to help out those getting the short end of things –  one case she helps a man who was urged by his company to behave illegally and was being made a fall guy for it.  In several others she is faced with opposing a detective who moves from being mistaken towards being corrupt.  She uses some of the tools that Kennedy uses herself to defend her clients.

Good reading – even the movie adaptations read well, if you ignore the idiot character factor.

Amazon Link