The Tales of Max Carrados by Ernest Bramah (narrated by Stephen Fry)

I received this as a nice festive freebie from Audible. I’d never heard of the author or character before, but the blurb asserts that in his heyday, our detective protagonist Max Carrados was apt to outsell even Sherlock Holmes. From a modern perspective, I think I can see the appeal he would have held at the time, as in the two short stories collected here we get all the cunning crime solving of Holmes, with the added twist that Carrados manages it while being blind. However, I can also see why the tales haven’t stood the same test of time. In both stories, Carrados does demonstrate himself to be fiendishly clever, yet ultimately solves the cases due to a prior acquaintance with a perpetrator. There’s a sense of unfairness on the part of the reader, an inability to solve and guess alongside him that we’re denied. Both cases revolve around coins, which isn’t the most thrilling topic in and of itself, and the second turns into a bit of a damp squib, hinging on a game of oneupmanship played in the dark. The narration by Stephen Fry is superb, however, and made for an enjoyable few hours listen even if the plots didn’t quite do it for me.

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