Large Print Reviews
By John Russell Fearn
By John Russell Fearn
Linford Mystery Library: Large Print (2009)
Reviewed by Herbert White - October 16, 2009
What do you get when a criminal with a well honed scientific mind joins forces with a crude, unthinking killer? Well, in the hands of John Russell Fearn, you get one fast paced, thrilling mystery that will have you guessing, "Just who is the masterful scientific criminal known to most simply as the Chief?"
As in many of Fearn's books, if the story's antagonist had used his scientific skills for good, he may have greatly aided mankind. Yet, as often happens, when he turns his skills to evil, all bets are off. In Liquid Death, the Chief has unlocked the secret of transmutation that has eluded scientists and wizards for centuries. That is, how to turn ordinary materials into gold. With this secret unlocked, he has ventured into a scheme to use his homemade gold to mint authentic gold sovereigns. He settled upon this schemed to use the gold because he knew he could easily turn the sovereigns into ready cash whereas gold in other forms would be harder to exchange and would be more likely to attract the unwanted attention of the authorities. To this end, he has enlisted a cadre of scoundrels to act as the lucky owner, or finder, of a horde of gold sovereigns, and to work out various deals to exchange the sovereigns for cash. While most of the members of this cadre are well suited for their assigned tasks, one may be more trouble than he is worth.
This crook that is ill suited for such a delicate crime is none other than the escaped killer, "Mopes" McCall, whom the Chief has hired-on as an all-round strong arm man and caretaker of his country estate. The Chief's plan goes off without a hitch until Mopes starts messing around with the minting equipment, damaging one of the molds. When the Chief mints his next batch of sovereigns, he does not notice the damage to the mold, or the imperfections that the damage is adding to the coins as they are being minted.
When Samuel Grindberg, a sharp-eyed jeweler and pawnbroker notices the defect, the jig is up. When Grindberg turns up in an old warehouse in downtown London, dead from a rattlesnake with a defective sovereign in his pocket, Chief Inspector Norden of Scotland Yard's Murder Squad knows something is up, but just what he's not sure. So he turns the case over to Chief Inspector Mortimer Dawson of the Scientific Division to see if he can get to the bottom of this strange case, a case made doubly strange because rattlesnakes are not native to England!
When Betty Lathom, Grindberg's shop assistance also turns up dead, with Mopes fingerprints on her, the men of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) are even more sure that something strange is going on. However, their puzzlement only intensifies as more rattlesnake victims begin to turn up in the city morgue. You'll be sure to enjoy the cat and mouse game that Fearn forces Dawson and the Chief to play, and relish the difficulties that Mopes keeps making for his unsavory boss. For such a fiend, he well deserves a servant like Mopes!
Liquid Death is a great, short mystery for fans of both thrillers and police procedurals. As well, in addition to the very bad, bad guys, and the intelligent good guys, the mystery could not be solved without the aid of Gwenda Blane, a beautiful artist's model who willingly puts herself in mortal danger to help the police solve the strange case of the multiple rattlesnake induced deaths, and to decipher how they tie into the counterfeit gold sovereign case. So sit back, get comfortable, and see if you can figure out who the Chief is, and what is really going on, before the police can!
Back to top
- Except for One Thing, by John Russell Fearn.
In this fast-paced mystery, Chief Inspector Garth is on the hunt for the killer of his best friend's fiancée, a killer who thinks he has committed the perfect crime.
- Account Settled, by John Russell Fearn.
When atomic bomb designer Rajek Quinton is thrown down a mineshaft and killed, it falls upon Detective Clark of the C.I.D. to track down his killer. That is, assuming, of course, that Quinton is indeed dead, for nothing can be known for certain in this gripping mystery.
Questions or Comments? Send an email to:
Copyright © Large Print Reviews 2009 - All Rights Reserved