Final Proof or The Value of Evidence

Rodrigues Ottolengui. Poisoned Pen, $14.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4642-1487-5
The Library of Congress Crime Classics series rescues another gifted author from obscurity with this collection of 12 stories set in the 1890s featuring PI Jack Barnes and his amateur sleuth friend, Robert Leroy Mitchel. Ottolengui (1861–1937), who was also a dentist, makes good use of his expertise in the best entry, the intriguing “The Phoenix of Crime.” The autopsy of a male corpse retrieved from New York City’s East River reveals that the dead man’s face is marked by an unusual skin disease shared by Rufus Quadrant, a wealthy gentleman who died recently and was supposedly cremated. Members of Quadrant’s family swear that the cremation definitely occurred, despite Quadrant’s doctor’s conviction that the body dragged from the water was his patient. The clever solution hinges on an early use of forensic dentistry. Other highlights include “The Nameless Man,” in which Barnes is consulted by a man who doesn’t know his own identity, and “A Frosty Morning,” in which Mitchel must identify the thief of a banknote stolen in the midst of a will reading. Mystery fans devoted to logical deduction will welcome this reissue. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/31/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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