Author: R. Austin Freeman

Review – The Eye of Osiris

Posted March 31, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – The Eye of Osiris

The Eye of Osiris

by R. Austin Freeman

Genres: Crime, Mystery
Pages: 286
Series: Dr Thorndyke #3
Rating: four-stars

John Bellingham is a world-renowned archaeologist who goes missing mysteriously after returning from a voyage to Egypt where fabulous treasures have been uncovered. Bellingham seems to have disappeared leaving clues, which lead all those hunting down blind alleys. But when the piercing perception of the brilliant Dr Thorndyke is brought to bear on the mystery, the search begins for a man tattooed with the Eye of Osiris in this strange, tantalisingly enigmatic tale.

I haven’t read anything by R. Austin Freeman before (unless there’s a short story or two amongst the British Library Crime Classic collections), but The Eye of Osiris turned out to be an unexpected pleasure. Sometimes with classic crime fiction, it’s just kind of cosy and predictable, and that’s very enjoyable but not surprising. In many ways this was a typical mystery of the period, but The Eye of Osiris¬†did make me think: I felt like this was a fair-play mystery, and that I had the clues I needed to figure out the end result. I got there before the main character (who is very much in the John Watson vein, including by being a doctor), but there were some aspects I wasn’t sure of.

And of course, there’s the fact that it’s related to Egyptian archaeology. It’s set in London, but the missing man whose absence is the object of investigation is an archaeologist, and his brother (Godfrey Bellingham) and niece (Ruth) are also fascinated by the subject. Ruth quickly becomes close to our protagonist, as he manufactures an excuse to help her with her work (a commission to write notes on Egyptian history to help someone who doesn’t have the time to research), and becomes fascinated with the case of her missing uncle, drawing in an old teacher of his (Thorndyke) to help.

The romance isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but I did enjoy the interplay of the characters, and that Ruth is a fully realised woman who is fascinated with her own work, and that our otherwise rather nondescript main character is in turn fascinated with her work and eager to help her. In part that’s to get close to her, of course, but he’s clearly attracted not just by her prettiness, but by her eagerness for knowledge.

In the end it’s not groundbreaking, but it was enjoyable, and I’m planning to read more of R. Austin Freeman’s mysteries, especially as some are available on Project Gutenberg.

Rating: 4/5

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