Two Tocks Before Midnight
This first short story begins with a brief overview of the Agora Society (see review below) giving the reasons it was set up and its aims and achievements. This naturally leads into the mystery of why one of the more prominent members, who originally arrived rather suddenly, abruptly disappeared one winters morning showing how their iunconditional trust could be abused. However, it is with his equally abrupt re-appearance, complete with unknown companion, which is the real beginning of the story.
I am not going to go into further detail as I have no desire to give the storyline away before you have had time to read it for yourselves. All I can do is to urge you to read this, and the later ones as well.
The story is set in the manner of the great Sherlock HOlmes short stories, also originally released individually before being collected together into a number of compendiums. Also, just as the Holm
d complex case is reealed at the end to be no more than greed and desperation when explained by the master detective.
A thoroughly good read and the beginning of a new and excellent series.
es stories were narrated by Dr Watson so too this story is narrated by Carl Brooke, while instead of the celebrated private investigator Sherlock Holmes there is Captain Barnwell of the local Police Department. Like the Holmes stories what appears to be a strange and complex case is revealed at the end to be no more than greed and desperation. A thoroughly good read and the first in a new and excellent series.
The Felled Crabapple Tree
Like the others in this series of short stories it is set in Boston and while the narrator, Carl Brooke, is retelling it in the 1890s it is actually set in the past, in a time shortly after the war between the states and occurs very shortly after the missive Eggs over Arsenic (not reviewed here yet).
This short story describes exactly how Carl Brook came to meet his future, and by the time of the narration late, wife Anne. It begins with Carl reading the novel Ivanhoe by Walter Scott and pondering over the conundrum of whether Ivanhoe was a brave knight for honouring his childhood sweethear or a cowardly knave for neglecting his true, though illicit, love.
The real story begins with a visitor, a Miss Anne Scott, who comes with a rather peculiar story about her brother Arthur, recently returned from the war between the states, and the crabapple tree of the title.
Like all these stories previously written in the Agora Society series this is a riveting read. They are truly the best short stories around at present in this particular genre, and I include those set in either the past or the present. Clay Boutwell is indeed the best short story writer since Conan Doyle and it cana be no co-incidence that the comparison between Carl Brooke and Dr. John Watson shows them to be so much alike.
If you haven't already purchased, and read, the previous books in this series then I urge you to do as I have done, buy them and read them because just as Conan Doyle is still remembered, and frequently read - not even going into the many TV and film adaptations - then so too, in the future, will the Agora Society short stories, and compilations, by Mr Boutwell be read.