R. Austin Freeman, 1862-1943


Biographical note

British writer of detective stories, mostly featuring the medico-legal forensic investigator Dr. Thorndyke.

His first stories were written in collaboration with Dr. John James Pitcairn [1860–1936], medical officer at Holloway Prison and published under the nom de plume "Clifford Ashdown". His first Thorndyke story, The Red Thumb Mark, was published in 1907 and shortly afterwards he pioneered the inverted detective story, in which the identity of the criminal is shown from the beginning: some short stories with this feature were collected in The Singing Bone in 1912. During the First World War he served as a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and afterwards produced a Thorndyke novel almost every year until his death in 1943.


The John Thorndyke novels

Short-story collections

Short stories

  • The Case of Oscar Brodski
  • A Case of Premeditation
  • The Echo of a Mutiny
  • A Wastrel's Romance
  • The Missing Mortgagee
  • Percival Bland's Proxy
  • The Old Lag
  • The Stranger's Latchkey
  • The Anthropologist at Large
  • The Blue Sequin
  • The Moabite Cipher
  • The Mandarin's Pearl [omitted from British edition]
  • The Aluminium Dagger
  • The Magic Casket
  • The Contents of a Mare's Nest
  • The Stalking Horse
  • The Naturalist at Law
  • Mr. Ponting's Alibi
  • Pandora's Box
  • The Trail of Behemoth
  • The Pathologist to the Rescue
  • Gleanings from the Wreckage
  • The Puzzle Lock
  • The Green Check Jacket
  • The Seal of Nebuchadnezzar
  • Phyllis Annesley's Peril
  • A Sower of Pestilence
  • Rex v. Burnaby
  • A Mystery of the Sand-hills
  • The Apparition of Burling Court
  • The Mysterious Visitor
  • The Case of the White Footprints
  • The Blue Scarab
  • The New Jersey Sphinx
  • The Touchstone
  • A Fisher of Men
  • The Stolen Ingots
  • The Funeral Pyre
  • The Man with the Nailed Shoes [omitted from both omnibus editions]
  • A Message from the Deep Sea [omitted from both omnibus editions]
  • 31, New Inn [1905 or 1911, later completely rewritten as the novel, The Mystery of 31 New Inn]
  • The Dead Hand [1912, later developed into the novel The Shadow of the Wolf.]

Other novels and collections

As Clifford Ashdown, with John Pitcairn


  • Travels and Life in Ashanti and Jaman [1898]
  • Social Decay and Regeneration [1921, with an introduction by Havelock Ellis]
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